MI6 trawls the archives to see how critics of the
day received Sean Connery's second outing as James
Bond in "From Russia With Love"...
Time Tunnel: Review Rewind
5th May 2010
New York Times - April 9th,
Secret Agent 007 is very much with us again, and anyone who hasn't yet
got to know him is urged to do so right away! He is, of course, the snappy
fellow who goes by the name of James Bond in Ian
Fleming's thrilling novels and is reproduced on the screen by an equally
snappy actor by the name of Sean Connery.
His reappearance in this instance is in
the second delightfully wild film made from a Fleming novel, "From
Russia With Love."
Don't miss it! This is to say, don't miss it if you can
still get the least bit of fun out of lurid adventure
fiction and pseudo-realistic fantasy. For this mad melodramatization
of a desperate adventure of Bond with sinister characters
in Istanbul and on the Orient Express is fictional exaggeration
on a grand scale and in a dashing style, thoroughly illogical
and improbable, but with tongue blithely wedged in cheek.
Again good old "Double Oh Seven" is sent by
his London chief, "M," to look into a promised
opportunity to tweak the hide of the Russians in the Near
It seems there's a secret mechanism called a Lektor
that may be filched from the Soviet Embassy in Turkey,
if the cards — and the cads — are smartly played.
This means the agent who does it must work in consort with
a beautiful girl and a Turkish voluptuary, which is right
down old "Double Oh Seven's" street.
Of course, he doesn't know the whole set-up
is a diabolical plant of that international apparatus, Spectre,
aimed to snag Lektor for
itself and also to place its favorite nemesis in the gravest
jeopardy. And he doesn't sense that the strange and solemn fellow
who tails him all over the place is a homicidal paranoiac ("the
best kind") working for Spectre, until almost too late.
Well, there's no point in trying to tell you
all the mad, naughty things that take place — the meetings
with mysterious people, the encounters with beautiful girls,
the bomb explosions, the chases, the violent encounter of Bond
with a helicopter, a motor boat race. Nor is there any point
in trying to locate the various characters in the plot, all of
whom are deliciously fantastic and delightfully well played.
There's Lotte Lenya as
an arch Spectre agent, Robert
Shaw as the paranoiac, Pedro
Armendariz as the jovial Turkish contact and Daniela
Bianchi as the beautiful girl. And, oh, how beautiful,
luscious and voluptuous she is! Even old "Double Oh
Seven" cannot resist her, and takes her home at the
Terence Young has directed the whole thing grandly, with
some color photography of Istanbul and surrounding country
that gives it the proper key. Don't ask any more. Just
go to see it and have yourself a good time.
Time - 10th April 1964
Ian Fleming is the late late late show of literature.
Perused at the witching hour, the violent adventures and immoderate
of James Bond, Agent 007 of the British Secret Service,
seem as normal as Ovaltine—and rather more narcotic.
Shown on screen, they are
apt to seem absurd. Doctor
No, the first of Fleming's novels to be filmed, was
shot as a straight thriller, but most spectators took it
as a travesty and had a belly laugh. The reaction was not
lost on Director Terence Young. From Russia, his second
treatment of a Fleming fiction, is an intentional heehaw
at whodunits, an uproarious parody that may become a classic
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends," the
hero (Sean Connery) announces as the story begins. He means,
somebody hastens to explain, a breach of Soviet security;
a libidinous Russian cipher clerk (Daniela Bianchi), who
has somehow heard of Bond's charms, informs the British
Secret Service that for one night with him she'll do anything—like
turn over the latest Soviet cipher machine. Obviously a
trap, but Hero Bond steps into it as casually as he steps
into his rep silk undershorts.
The lovers meet in Istanbul. He wears a hand
towel, and she is covered by his automatic. "You're beautiful," he
mutters. "Some people think my mouth is too big," she
pants in reply. "No," he assures her, "it's the
right size—for me." Bang! A bomb explodes in the Russian
consulate, and in the ensuing confusion Bond and his musky Russki
escape with a cipher machine. But the end is not yet. In the
next hour or so, 007 is slugged by a phony British agent, bombed
by a passing helicopter, pursued by an avalanche of rats, and
drop-kicked by a homicidal charlady (Lotte Lenya) with a poisoned
dagger planted in the toe of her terribly sensible shoes.
All this is marvelously
exciting. Director Young is a master of the form he ridicules,
and in almost every episode he hands the audience shocks
as well as yocks. But the yocks are more memorable. They
result from slight but sly infractions of the thriller
formula. A Russian agent, for instance, does not simply
escape through a window; no, he escapes through a window
in a brick wall painted with a colossal poster portrait
of Anita Ekberg, and as he crawls out of the window,
he seems to be crawling out of Anita's mouth.
does not simply train a telescope on the Russian consulate
and hope he can read somebody's lips; no, he makes
his way laboriously into a gallery beneath the joint, runs
a submarine periscope up through the walls, and there,
at close range, inspects two important Soviet secrets:
the heroine's legs.
Sophisticated? Well, not really. But fast, smart, shrewdly directed
and capably performed. And though the film will scarcely eradicate
the sex and violence that encumber contemporary movies, it may
at least persuade producers that sick subjects may be profitably
proffered with a healthy laugh.
Variety - June, 1982
From Russia with Love is a preposterous, skillful slab of hardhitting, sexy
hokum. After a slowish start, it is directed by Terence Young at zingy pace.
This one has to do with Sean Connery being detailed to go to Istanbul and
a top secret Russian decoding machine from
the embassy. British Intelligence senses that this may be a trap,
but getting the machine is important.
Connery can pull it off if he will help
a young Russian cipher clerk (Daniela Bianchi) to escape
to the West. She thinks she is working for her Russian
government, but actually she is a pawn of Spectre, an international
Bond has a glorious slap-up fight to the
death with Robert Shaw, the killer detailed to bump him
off. He is hounded by a helicopter as he runs across
moorland clutching the decoding machine. He beats off his
in a motor boat by setting fire to the sea. He referees
a fight between two jealous gypsy girls just before the
encampment is invaded by the crime gang.
Connery is well served by some crisp wise-cracking dialog
by Richard Maibaum [in his script adapted by Johanna
Harwood]. Robert Shaw is an impressive, icy, implacable
killer and the late Pedro Armendariz weighs in with a
formidable, yet lightly played, performance as the man
who knows the sinister secrets of Istanbul.
The distaff side is less well served. Newcomer Daniela Bianchi
is a good looking Italian girl with shapely legs and promising
smile. Lotte Lenya has been lumbered with a part that doesn't
fully come off. Disguised with an Eaton Crop and heavy pebble
spectacles, she stands out as somebody up to no good from the
Bond Time Tunnel
Russia With Love
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