JAMES BOND - FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
Starring Sean Connery, From Russia with Love, is the second James Bond film in the official EON Productions series, and the second to star Sean Connery as the suave and sophisticated British Secret Service agent James Bond. The film was released in 1963, produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and directed by Terence Young. It is based on the eponymous 1957 novel by Ian Fleming.
It is considered the best of the James Bond film series by many fans and critics, and by actor Sean Connery (who restated his view in a 2002 interview with Sam Donaldson for ABC News). Though the film's low-key tone contrasts with the popular outlandishness of Goldfinger and Thunderball, From Russia with Love is often considered the ideal Bond film that each film strives to aim for. Michael G. Wilson, the current co-producer of the series with his half sister Barbara Broccoli, has stated "We always start out trying to make another From Russia with Love and end up with another Thunderball." In 2004, Total Film magazine named it the ninth-greatest British film of all time.
In 2005 it was adapted into a video game, James Bond 007: From Russia with Love. The game was made by Electronic Arts and featured all new voice work by Sean Connery as well as his likeness and the likeness of a number of the supporting cast from the film.
As President Kennedy had named From Russia With Love among his ten favourite books of all time, producers Broccoli and Saltzman chose this as the follow-up to the cinematic debut of James Bond, Dr. No. Ian Fleming's novel was a Cold War thriller, however the producers made the villains SPECTRE instead of the Soviet undercover agency SMERSH. From Russia With Love is significant in that - with the exception of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Dr. No - it showed Bond without significant amounts of hi-tech gadgetry which became a hallmark of the later films. (The attaché case he is given by Q in From Russia With Love is innovative but very believable.) The film introduced the now standard pre-credits sequence and the use of a popular singer to sing the theme.
The film follows the plot of Fleming's novel almost to the letter; however, the villain is the major change between the literary and cinematic versions of the story. At the Cold War's height, EON Productions felt it inadvisable casting the Russians as villains, so SMERSH was replaced by SPECTRE, the criminal organization who is a mutual enemy of both superpowers, introduced in the first James Bond film, Dr. No. As such, this film is a sequel to the previous film in that SPECTRE seeks revenge upon James Bond for his killing of Dr. Julius No.
The film features the first appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, leader of SPECTRE, although he wouldn't directly confront Bond for several more cinematic adventures. To integrate SPECTRE to the storyline, minor changes were made so that SMERSH agent Red Grant is responsible for actions committed by other characters in the novel. Other than these topical changes, the film's plot is the same as the novel's—James Bond is lured to Turkey, where Corporal Tatiana (Tania) Romanova is stationed to assist her defection, and obtains a LEKTOR decoder (renamed from the novel's Spektor to not confuse the audience with SPECTRE).
The film notes the first appearance of Desmond Llewelyn as Major Boothroyd, known as Q, the character he would play in nearly all of the series' films, until his death in 1999. The Q character appeared in the previous film, Dr. No, but was portrayed by actor Peter Burton, and was addressed by M initially as Armourer (though 007's boss volunteers a "thank you, Major Boothroyd" after he demonstrates the Walther to Bond). The cast also features Robert Shaw, perhaps best known as Quint in Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975), as the villain Red Grant.
From Russia with Love is the first series film with John Barry as the primary soundtrack composer. The theme song, "From Russia with Love", was composed by Lionel Bart of Oliver! fame and sung by Matt Monro, although the title credit music is a lively instrumental version of the tune (segueing into the "James Bond Theme"). Monro's vocal version is later played during the film (as source music on a radio) and properly over the film's end titles.
John Barry, arranger of Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" for Dr. No, would be the dominant Bond series composer for most of its history and the inspiration for the current lead Bond movie composer, (who uses cues from this soundtrack in his own for Tomorrow Never Dies). In this film, Barry introduced the percussive theme "007" – action music that came to be considered the 'secondary James Bond Theme' and is used in various of the Bond films of Sean Connery, and also Roger Moore's Moonraker. The arrangement appears twice on this soundtrack album; the second version, entitled "007 Takes the Lektor", is the one used during the gunfight at the gypsy camp and also during Bond's theft of the Lektor decoding machine.)
The completed film features a holdover from the Monty Norman-supervised Dr. No music – the post-rocket-launch music from No (after Bond disrupts No's attempts to jam the takeoff) appears in Russia at the conclusion of the helicopter attack, and also at the attempt of SPECTRE to intercept Bond's speedboat. This cue, incidentally lifted by Arnold for Tomorrow Never Dies, is naturally absent from the Russia soundtrack album.
As Barry himself notes, 1964's Goldfinger would be the first Bond film in which he had total creative control over the soundtrack, including the music of the theme song. (Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley would contribute the theme's lyrics).
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