From Russia with Love (1963) Directed by Terence Young. With Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Bernard Lee, Robert Shaw.
After just one year, the creative team behind Dr. No, return with this second secret agent offering, once again starring Sean Connery as super sleuth, 007. Essentially, what we have is more of the same. Connery’s mojo is fully intact from the first film, and if anything, this adventure is a broader, more ambitious effort with larger scale action sequences.
The villain of the piece, ‘Number One’, or Blofeld as he was later revealed, is depicted in a way that has since been lovingly pastiched – calm voice stroking a purring white cat, face kept off-screen to maintain the mystery. It’s a clever move that keeps us off-balance, leaving uncertainty as to the identity of the criminal mastermind – who refers to Dr. No as a “previous associate”. In hinting that Dr. No was just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, this passing reference to the first film gives the narrative of this outing a much wider feeling arc. It is also one of the few times a previous Bond film is referenced.
Director, Terence Young does a fine job of building on top his own foundations. His talent as a big screen film-maker is really allowed to flourish, as evidenced in an array of striking sequences including a claustrophobic, hand-to-hand combat scene aboard the tight confines of the Orient Express, to the thrill of a high speed boat chase.
From Russia with Love is a harder edged, more engrossing experience than Dr. No, but that’s largely thanks to a continuation and expansion of the perfectly judged tone of its predecessor. This is also the first Bond film to introduce gadgets after the exposition scene, a routine that became a trademark for the series. Another sharply-made spy thriller. 4/5