28/02/2011

BlogalongaBond: From Russia With Love (1963)

Another month means it's time for another bloody Bond film but since I've left it shamefully late, let's not waste anymore time and just get on with it.

The Intro


After Red Grant (Robert Shaw, looking like a beefed up version the stalker from The Bodyguard) disposes of a SPECTRE agent with a Connery mask on, the credits kick off with belly dancing women and fringed brassieres. My copy of From Russia With Love didn't feature Matt Munro's vocals and to be honest, I kind of missed them. It's a bit of a forgotten theme song but it's quite fun to croon along to. If you're wondering who the hell Matt Munro is, don't ask me, I just assumed Frank Sinatra was busy.

The Music 

I'm the last person to yammer on about film scores but From Russia With Love certainly covers all bases by ranging from the sublime to the absolutely awful. Barry utilises his string section wonderfully for sprawling shots of Istanbul, the sound stage at Pinewood Venice and Belgrade but overdoes it completely in a scene in which Bond looks around a hotel room. It may be one of the most distractingly scored scenes ever but the eerie silence which accompanies the train fight makes up for it. Just.

The Baddie

From Russia From Love marks first appearance of the SPECTRE's Number 1 aka Ernst Stavro Blofeld aka Dr Evil. Well, I say 'appearance' but all you get is his creepy hand and stupid white cat. Anyone who has a cat is clearly evil. The image has become such a caricature it's hard to stifle your giggles whenever he pops up but the real question is, where did he get those intriguing cuff links?

The Girl

Ergh, I was less than impressed with this one. Apparently based on Krystyna Skarbek, Tatiana Romanova does nothing of note at all. Bond slaps her and she tells him she loves him, he drugs her and she begs him not to leave...what exactly does Bond do to these women in bed apart from passing on an unknown STD? I found the crazy and possibly lesbian Russian woman with stabby toes and screwface far more interesting than this bland, bland, bland Bond Girl. Having said that: Tatiana > Jinx.

In Conclusion

From Russia With Love is an odd one; it contains everything you expect from a Bond film (multiple sexual partners, corny one liners, gadgets and general gratuitousness) but everything up until the train fight (brilliantly deconstructed by The Incredible Suit) drags far too much. Still, said fight kicks things off nicely and it quickly becomes quite a good thriller with boat races and explosions, and who doesn't love explosions? FRWL certainly seems more of a confident Bond film than it's predecessor and even though it belongs in the 'meh' category, hopefully that trait will continue throughout the franchise. 

Next Month
Goldfinger - Honor Blackman! Menacing lasers! SHIRLEY BASSEY!!!!!!