Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bondage, Pt. 2: From Russia With Love

This is the second Bond movie, and it begins some traditions that will last for decades. My first impression watching this one again recently has been its utter lack of subtlety. One of the first shots in the credits is the number "007" projected onto the shaking boobs of a dancing girl, an image that says a lot about the James Bond mythos.

In this one, Bond is (knowingly) lured by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. into a trap; a beautiful Russian cypher clerk sees Bond's file and falls in love with him, supposedly; she sends word she wants to defect and bring the Russian's Lektor code machine with her. The Russians themselves have nothing to do with it - it's S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s plan - but she thinks she's working for Mother Russia. Her mission is to pretend to fall in love with Bond, but, of course, she really does fall in love with him. I won't bother with more of a plot synopsis than that.

This movie is the first to have a pop theme song (titled the same as the movie). You don't hear singer Matt Monro until the closing credits, but an instrumental version opens the movie. The song was written by John Barry, who composed the overall music. This starts a strong tradition of pop theme songs that will eventually include everyone from Louis Armstrong to Madonna, though they won't be performed over the opening credits until Goldfinger.

Another Bond first in From Russia With Love is Desmond Llewlyn as Q. He would hold the role from 1963 to 1999, appearing in more Bond movies than any other actor. In this one, he gives Bond his first true gadget - a briefcase that contains hidden knives, poison gas, and emergency gold. It comes in handy later versus the movie's main henchman.

The Henchman is another Bond tradition that starts with this movie. Here, it's Red Grant, played by Robert Shaw. The villain is ultimately pussycat-petting Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond's S.P.E.C.T.R.E. nemesis who is shown here for the first time (only his hands - in fact, only a "?" is credited for the actor who plays him). But the actual mission is run by Rosa Klebb, a ex-spymaster for the Russians, who is memorable for kicking people with the retractable spikes in her sensible shoes, and she's technically the "villain" of this movie. The girl in this one is Tatiana Romanova, played by Daniela Bianchi, who, like Ursula Andress before her, had a dubbed-in voice.

Connery is in fine form in this one, refining the Bond role and injecting it with a bit more humor. Here is an interesting fact about Sean Connery I bet you didn't know.

This movie was the basis for the video game of the same name, which featured all-new voice work by Connery (though it was funny to see his young likeness speaking with a sort of old-sounding voice). This game was too hard for me, and I never made it very far.

Next up, one of my favorites: Goldfinger.

2 comments:

  1. I thought the fight on the train was one of his best.

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  2. I am anonymous, dad

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