Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “From Russia With Love” (1963):
I have been watching James Bond movies since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I just love them. Guess that’s why I put them in a very special genre of movies that only James Bonds inhabits. That category is Adult Male Fairy Tales. They have gorgeous sexy women, gadgets up the wazoo, awesome cars, some of the most beautiful settings on any planet, and lots of blowing things up. What more could a red blooded adult male ask for?
Now all us James Bondies have our favorite Double-Oh-Sevens. Me, I have no love for the Australian model. You know the Bond who married Diana Rigg in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. His acting was so bad it killed Diana Rigg off and almost ruined her career.
Timothy Dalton did okay in the two movies he was in. He seemed to be trying way too hard Bond with us. Seems he could kill with that look of his. One might say that he was the working-stiff Bond.
I was rather fond of Pierce Brosnan. He always seemed like he wanted to charm the pants off the villain. After all, he was a handsome fellow. I did think he was rather good in “Tailor of Panama”, but, in that one, the intelligence agent was slumming. Geoffrey Rush’s character did most of the work.
Then there was Roger Moore. Oh, Roger, he was so much fun. For some reason, the word pussyfootin’ comes to mind when I think of this Bond. What M in their right mind would give him a double-oh? He’d probably shoot himself in the foot. Guess that’s why he was given Sean’s Berettta. I always expected to hear M say, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Now Daniel Craig, he looks dangerous I must admit. Not much charm but, as I have been told, he looks good in a bathing suit. Most of the time he’s way too serious for my taste,
For my money, Sean Connery, or The Sean as I like to call him, is the Bond for me. He’s a Scot, kilt and all. He sure is charming with the women. Even Money Penny goes for him, and she didn’t go for just any Bond. Sean looks like he could kill an adversary without blinking. His villains are such memorable villains with truly awesome names: Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Ernst Stavro Blofield.
Now, you know guys with those names could take over the world and shoot your eye out to boot. Blofield was so villainous he just kept coming back. Only Jaws could compete and take a bite out of the British Secret Service. But he wasn’t the boss. He was one of the many supporting minions that were sent after Double-oh-Seven. And no other Bond said, “Shaken not stirred”, with the kind of conviction Sean Connery said it. So there you have it, Uncle Bardie’s rundown of the Double-oh-Sevens.
The thing I love about “From Russia With Love” is that the producers had not worked out all the kinks. It was still new territory, being only the second of the series. Sean Connery was still feeling his way around in the role, so there is a certain rawness to this sophomore effort. It may be very old school, but it’s old school in the best way.
In the capable hands of director Terence Young, this Bond shines. Double-Oh-Seven is off to Istanbul to take control of the mcguffin, a Russian coding machine. A Russian woman has fallen in love with James Bond’s picture, or so the British have been told. She has the good Russian name of Tatiana. Not as exotic as Pussy Galore but then again what woman is? Tatiana is ready to betray the Soviets for a chance to meet the Secret Agent in the flesh. But it is a trap, set by SPECTRE.
The usual opening sequence with the title and the song as its own little movie is not in this one. That opening sequence first made its appearance in “Goldfinger”. The song comes at the end of “From Russia With Love”. Also the gadgets are not running the show. Just a briefcase with some talcum powder. This one is Bond, and only Bond, not the guinea pig for Q’s toys. And I like that Sean gets to show his stuff instead of the cars and the gizmos.
The cast of “From Russia With Love” has Class with a capital C. Bernard Lee has returned as M. So has Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny and Desmond Llewelyn as Q. Robert Shaw gives Bond a real challenge as the villainous Grant. His boss, Rosa Klebb, is the great German actress, Lotte Lenya. The classiest of all was the brilliant Mexican actor, Pedro Armendáriz, who portrays Kerem Bey, the Turkish Station Chief in Istanbul. At the time, he had cancer and still he worked. To provide money for his family.
To top it all off, there’s murder on the Orient Express and one hell of a boat ride. So fasten your seat belts. Let’s get on with Uncle Bardie’s favorite of all the Bonds, “From Russia With Love.”
Do you have a favorite James Bond movie?