Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
So my journey to watch fifty years and twenty plus movies worth of James Bond films continues, with this film considered by many to be the best of the Sean Connery Bond films, and thus the best of all the Bond films, 'From Russia With Love'.  I'm not sure about that though, because while 'From Russia With Love' was certainly some high value entertainment, I personally still liked 'Dr. No' a little more.

Our film opens with Bond (Connery) being stalked amid a maze of bushes by the brutal assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw).  Grant pulls out his handy garrote and ends Bond's life.  Shortest movie ever.  BUT NOT SO FAST!  It's just some clown wearing a Bond mask.  Not sure why Spectre sacrificed this poor guy, or made him wear a Bond mask, like Red Grant is too stupid to just stalk and murder a guy who didn't look like Bond, but we are going to roll with it.

Regardless of all of that, Spectre has a plan.  The cat stroking Number One has commissioned two of his underlings to concoct a crazy complex scheme to get revenge on Bond and what he did to Dr. No back in the first movie.  It's a bit out there, but the plan is to get Bond to steal some translation machine, train the sexy Russian clerk Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) to be his liaison, steal the machine away from Bond, then torture Bond for his crimes against Spectre.  It's the torture part that usually does these criminal entities in.  Oh, and then kill Tatiana too since she has no idea she's really working for Spectre, believing she's giving up that cookie for Mother Russia.  And since it's obviously trap, make it look a trap.  Genius!

So Q (Desmond Llewelyn) gears Bond up, Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) plays her typical game of sexual innuendo, M (Bernard Lee) sees no humor in any of this and James is off to Turkey to purposely fall for this scam which is so obviously a trap.
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The plan setup by those evil cretins at Spectre pretty much works to perfection.  Bond steals the device, gets seduced by the pretty lady, Spectre in turn gets the device back and all is looking well.  Ah… but there are two problems with Spectre's perfect plan.  One is that James Bond is awesome.  Two is that sending some woman to have sex with James Bond, then thinking that after this sexing that this woman is going to remain loyal to your cause… is just plain crazy.  Clearly this organization didn't do their research on the sexual prowess of one James Bond.  And now we have a super spy and a hot chick on the run in some exotic locales, with not so much as the future of the world at stake, like in the last movie, just… well… a typewriter.  Which in the wrong hands I guess would still be bad for freedom… but… well… it's a typewriter.  More or less.  Action and awesome shall ensue.

While I might've enjoyed 'Dr. No' a little more 'From Russia With Love', make no mistake about it, Bond's second outing is still grand entertainment.  This is the movie where we get the introduction of the iconic characters of Blofeld and Q, and the criminal organization of Spectre begins to take a clearer form.   In Dr. No, Bond at times seemed flustered, maybe even unsure of himself, but in this film James became the cool as ice customer that we've come to expect from James Bond, and Sean Connery has never been better than he was in this film.

'From Russia With Love' also heightened the intrigue, playing in on the fears of the cold war that was going on at the time, and while the ultimate payoff of a pimped out typewriter might've paled in comparison to Dr. No's nukes, this device was nonetheless more grounded into reality, which did make for bit more of a logical story arc.

Still, why am I amongst the few who seemed to enjoy Dr. No more?  For starters, there was Ursula Andress over Daniela Bianchi.  It's not a matter of looks, but presentation of character.  Personally, I couldn't see any reason why the character of Tatiana fell for James Bond, because other than the one sexual encounter, which Tatiana was ordered to do in the first place, there wasn't a lot of development there to justify her betraying her country for Bond.  I know Bond is a superstud and all, but that just wasn't enough for me.  I also felt Dr. No moved faster and was presented with a greater sense of urgency than 'From Russia With Love'.  This movie was certainly bigger and more expansive, and probably more topically relevant for 1964, but translated into 201x and beyond, Dr. No's wacky nuke plans plays better than Cold War shenanigans.

There was the typical Bond misogyny to deal with of course, such as a gypsy fight which was pretty nutty, and James did slap a semi drugged out Tatiana pretty hard.  And then watching Spectre Agent Klebb (Lotte Lenya) trying to kick Bond with her poisoned wing tip slip-on was pretty funny in a lame kind of way. 

All that being said, fifty plus years later, Bond still manages to entertain greatly.  Great action, a great fight scene between Bond and Red Grant in the close quarters of a train car, and the introduction of a couple of classic characters which will carry us for years to come.  You still can't go terribly wrong with James Bond and 'From Russia With Love'.
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