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From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love was released in 1963 just a year after Dr. No and with Connery reprising his role as Bond and Terence Young back in the director’s chair it turned out to be even more special than the debut. Bond is after a Russian decoding machine and he sets off to Turkey to try and claim it for his secret service bosses but SPECTRE are out for revenge after the death of Dr. No and they plan to kill Bond once and for all, of course it is easier said than done! The memorable opening to this film sees Bond sneaking around a maze of hedges outside a stately home being stalked by the Aryan assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw) who garrottes him. We gasp in horror but then the floodlights come on and the corpse is revealed to be a man wearing a very realistic Bond mask. It was a SPECTRE training exercise and under the watchful gaze of Rosa Klebb (played brilliantly by Lotte Lenya), who has been sent to oversee proceedings by Blofeld, the evil organisation are planning to steal the Lektor device from the Russians and use it as a lure to kill Bond before selling it back to them. After a briefing from M (Bernard Lee) in London Bond flies out to Istanbul and walks straight into a trap. His adventure takes him on the Orient Express to Belgrade, Zagreb and finally to Venice. This was the first Bond film to cover multiple exotic locations and it is full of assassins, garrottes and concealed blades. The memorable Rosa Klebb with the poison toe blade in her shoe makes a great SPECTRE underling with Blofeld berating her all the way. The evil organisation is brought to life in this movie and its inner workings and politics are fascinating if crude and barbarically simplistic. This was the first Bond film to feature gadgets; the books actually don’t deal with them much. Thanks to Q Branch who would continue to pop up in subsequent Bond films, he is equipped with a special attaché case which contains a gun, knife, hidden money and a tear gas canister. This film also introduced other staples which would be repeated in each future Bond outing including the pre-title sequence, a helicopter scene and a postscript action scene which would come after the main climax. From Russia With Love was also the first film to introduce Bond’s nemesis, the arch villain Blofeld who would be played by various actors over the years but always remained the ultimate baddie. The film was based on the 1957 book of the same name, a work which had been popularized in the US after JFK named it as one of his top ten books of all time. It was a massive success on release taking over $100 million at the box office worldwide and receiving favourable reviews. Sean Connery named it as his personal favourite and it has stood the test of time admirably as it still makes for exciting viewing.