From Russia With Love

The second installment in the series From Russia With Love, is, in my opinion, one of the best, if not the best, Bond film of all time.  To be one of the best you have to do the good things well and steer clear of the bad things.  Let’s take a look:

The villains: classic and well done.  Ernst Stavro Blofeld shows up for the first time in the series as the head of SPECTRE, and the suspense of not seeing his face will continue for 4 years (somewhat lost when you view several in a week’s time).  Rosa Klebb and Red Grant are diabolical, but believable unlike a few later Bond Villains.

The good guys: His main ally, Kerim, isn’t squeaky-clean himself, making the line between good and evil a little fuzzy, just like in the real world.  Desmond Llewellen makes his Bond debut as Q, but the Q element here is much less about the guy and much more about the gadgets: the trick suitcase with the hidden throwing knife and the exploding talcum powder canister set the standard for coming decades of gegetry.  The Bond Girl Tatiana is right-on for this movie: the story doesn’t try to do too much with her — many later movies go overboard with the female leads.  I don’t think there’s a “ugh, why did they have to have her do that?” moment in the whole film.

Minimizing the bad stuff: The whole gypsy farm thing was, um, almost pointless (well, it did serve to solidify the friendship between Bond and Kerim), and my least favorite part of the movie.  The gypsy farm gun battle was just too early-sixties-ish.  A worthy criticism of later Bond films is that the effects are just over-the-top, especially relying on explosions to create intense action.  The boat chase near the end of Russia is one scene that got dangerously close, but thankfully didn’t go too far.

Quotables:

Number One: “Kronsteen, you’re sure this plan is fool proof?”
Kronsteen: “Yes, it is, because I have anticipated every variation of counter move.
We all know how that worked out for him.

Tatiana: “The mechanism is… Oh James, James… Will you make love to me all the time in England?”
Bond: “Day and night. Go on about the mechanism.”

Bond: “Pardon me, do you have a match?”
Agent: “I use a lighter.”
Bond: “Better still.”
Agent: “Until they go wrong.”
Bond: “Exactly.”
Classic coded spy dialogue so that each knows that who he’s dealing with is on his side.  Except for some reason SPECTRE agent Grant knows of the pass phrases later in the movie.

Bond: “Red wine with fish. Well, that should have told me something.”
Grant: “I might not know my wines, but you are the one on your knees.”

Bond: [regarding Kerim’s chauffeur] He’s a rather intelligent young man.
Kerim: He should be. He’s my son. Coffee?
Bond: Medium sweet.
Kerim: [to attendant] Two, medium sweet.
Kerim: [to Bond] He also is my son. All of my key employees are my sons. Blood is the best security in this business.

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