Customer Review

80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come For The Movie, Stay For The Extras, December 1, 2000
This review is from: From Russia With Love (Special Edition) (DVD)
From Russia With Love, the second James Bond film, is one of the best (in my view, second only to Goldfinger). Unlike the later films in the series, From Russia With Love is extremely faithful to the Ian Fleming novel with only slight variations on the story. In order to obtain a Russian decoding machine, 007 must travel to Istanbul, Turkey to aid a beautiful Russian defector ... even though he and the British Secret Service know it's probably a trap. But unbeknownst to Bond SPECTRE is playing the Russians and the British against each other. This is the most realistic of the Bond films with a story that could probably happen in the real world of espionage. The film does contain a gadget -- a trick briefcase (also in the Fleming novel) that contains throwing knives, ammunition, a folding sniper's rifle, 50 gold sovereigns and a tear gas cartridge that explodes when the case is opened improperly. The film, however, takes a very realistic approach to the story with none of the cartoon antics present in many of the later Bonds.

Terence Young, who also helmed Dr. No and Thunderball, does an outstanding job of directing. He makes wonderful use of the locations, especially in Istanbul. As with his other two Bond efforts, Young eschews a cartoon approach to the action in favor of a more brutal, realistic approach. And unlike many later Bond directors, Young concentrates on developing characters, making them real people with real emotions. The audience feels for the characters emotionally -- something unheard of with the cardboard cutout characters of the later films.

Peter Hunt's editing is a marvel. The action scenes are tightly edited and the film's pacing and continuity are flawless. In addition, the DVD documentary shows just how much Hunt helped shape the final project. He went beyond simply editing the film and actually helped shape and improve the story.

However, the best thing about the film is the casting. Young must have taken great care to properly cast From Russia With Love because every part matches their novel counterpart down to the last detail. Sean Connery, of course, is, and always will be, the best James Bond. Newcomer Daniela Bianchi is terrific as pseudo defector Tatiana Romanova. She is beautiful, sexy and appealing. It's too bad she didn't have more of a screen career. Lotte Lenya (Threepenny Opera), the famed German musical star, does a wonderful villainous turn as Rosa Klebb, former SMERSH agent who is now working for SPECTRE. Robert Shaw (A Man for all Seasons, Black Sunday, Jaws) is chilling as SPECTRE assassin Red Grant. And Pedro Armendariz, in the performance of his career, plays Ali Karim Bey, the head of Station T, Turkey. Aremedariz's performance is especially poignant because he was dying of cancer during the filming. He shot himself while in the hospital soon after he was through filming.

From Russia With Love is not only a good Bond film, but a good film alone, apart from the series. Along with Dr. No and Goldfinger, From Russia With Love represents a high point that the later films never quite matched.

The DVD transfer is spectacular, with terrific sound and picture quality. What makes the DVD special, however, are the special features which include three documentaries, trailers, TV and radio spots and cast & crew profiles. The main documentary is especially interesting as it details how the filmmakers drastically changed the story progression during the shoot. As with all of the Bond DVD's, MGM has done a superb job, giving the buyer much, much more than just the film to view.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2010 7:15:44 PM PDT
T. Hamilton says:
And On her Majesty's Secret Service of course.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 19, 2010 8:05:31 PM PDT
Ahhh yes! Thanks for the reminder, T.H. I wrote this review nearly ten years ago when I was more of an early Sean Connery Bond film snob. You can throw in OHMSS along with The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and Casino Royale.

Posted on Oct 28, 2012 8:37:11 AM PDT
I have a question about a certain scene in the film

When James Bond had been subdued by Red Grant in the train, he offers Grant the 50 pieces of gold sovereigns that was in the briefcase Q supplied him with. Yet when he took it out the case, the smoke can wasn't in there but in the other briefcase, which Grant opened.

1- When Grant and the dame went to go eat and Bond told them he will meet them there, did Bond switch the gold sovereigns inside another briefcase? But how since there was only one briefcase he brought aboard, which was the lector machine?

2- James Bond came on the train with the lector suitcase and not his standard kit briefcase from Q. Red Grant ha his standard briefcase but how???

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 3:34:36 PM PST
Answers: 1. Bond probably already had his "Q" briefcase on board when he, Tatiana, and Kerim board the train. Remember the assortment of clothes he had for Tatiana? He probably had the briefcase loaded onboard with the clothes. 2. Think back to when Grant kills and replaces the agent that is supposed to meet Bond (the real Captain Nash) at one of the stops. When you first see the real Captain Nash, he's holding a briefcase identical to Bond's. You'll also recall that Q said that the briefcases were being issued to all personnel as standard equipment. Grant simply took Nash's briefcase when he killed him, not knowing about the sovereigns, the knife, the tear gas cartridge, etc.

Posted on Feb 11, 2013 11:49:25 AM PST
Michael, how is the conflict of the two Gypsy women resolved? Last we see of them, James is on the case. Which girl gets to marry the man about whom they fought?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2013 2:48:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 11, 2013 2:51:55 PM PST
You've got me stumped on that one. It's actually something I wondered myself when I first saw FRWT, but had forgotten about until you reminded me of it. The only thing I can think of is that after being around James Bond, the Gypsy women lost interest in the man they were fighting for. If you watch when Bond leaves Gypsy camp with Kerim, you'll notice that the two girls look rather forlorn at his departure. But unless the novel tells which one of the girls ends up with the man, your guess is as good as mine.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2013 1:33:42 PM PST
Thanks, Michael. Well, considering the forlorn looks you noticed those Gypsy gals giving to Bond, that may be my answer.

Posted on Jul 19, 2013 12:03:35 PM PDT
Kendrik Lau says:
Sorry, the film had a good beginning, a decent last 15 minutes but an excruciatingly dull middle.
I was weaned on the Bond films that was created by the Goldfinger mania. It is telling that every single Bond film that came after, even the more serious ones, still maintain a level of camp and fantasy set up by Goldfinger.

Posted on Jul 12, 2014 1:01:07 PM PDT
Nobody0 says:
IS this the WIDE Screen version or postage Stamp one????
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