From Russia with Love (film)
|From Russia with Love|
|Directed by||Terence Young|
|Produced by||Harry Saltzman
Albert R. Broccoli
|Screenplay by||Richard Maibaum
|Story by||Johanna Harwood|
|Based on||From Russia, with Love
by Ian Fleming
|Music by||John Barry|
|Edited by||Peter R. Hunt|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$80 million|
From Russia with Love is a 1963 British spy film and the second in the James Bond film series produced by Eon Productions, as well as Sean Connery's second role as MI6 agent James Bond. It was directed by Terence Young, produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and written by Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood, based on Ian Fleming's similarly named 1957 novel. In the film, Bond is sent to assist in the defection of Soviet consulate clerk Tatiana Romanova in Turkey, where SPECTRE plans to avenge Bond's killing of Dr. No.
Following the success of Dr. No, United Artists greenlit a sequel and doubled the budget available for the producers. In addition to filming on location in Turkey, the action scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire and in Scotland. Production ran over budget and schedule, and was rushed to finish by its scheduled October 1963 release date.
From Russia with Love was a critical and commercial success. It took more than $78 million in worldwide box office receipts, far more than its $2 million budget and more than its predecessor Dr. No, thereby becoming a blockbuster in 1960s cinema.
Seeking to exact revenge on James Bond (007) for killing its agent Dr. No and destroying the organisation's assets in the Caribbean, SPECTRE begins training agents to kill Bond. Their star pupil is Donald "Red" Grant, a SPECTRE assassin who proves his mettle by killing a Bond impostor in one minute and fifty-two seconds on a training course with a garrote wire concealed in his wristwatch.
Meanwhile, the organisation's Chief Planner, a Czech chess grandmaster named Kronsteen (Number 5), devises a plan to play British and Soviet intelligence against each other to procure a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets. SPECTRE's Chief Executive, Number 1, puts Rosa Klebb (Number 3), a former Colonel of SMERSH (the counter-intelligence branch of Soviet Intelligence) who has defected to SPECTRE in the West, in charge of the mission as Chief of Operations. Klebb chooses Grant to protect Bond until he acquires the Lektor – then to eliminate 007 and steal the cipher machine for SPECTRE. As part of the scheme, Klebb recruits the beautiful Tatiana Romanova, a cipher clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, who believes the ex-Colonel to still be working for SMERSH.
In London, M informs Bond that Romanova has contacted their "Station 'T'" in Turkey, claiming to have fallen in love with Bond from his file photo. She offers to defect to the West, and will bring a top secret Lektor with her to sweeten the deal – but only on the condition that Bond handle her case, personally. Prior to his departure, Bond is supplied by Q with an attaché case containing a concealed throwing knife, gold sovereigns, a special tear gas booby trap connected to the lock mechanism and ammunition for an Armalite AR-7 folding sniper rifle with an infrared night scope.
After travelling to Istanbul, Bond heads into the city to meet with station head Ali Kerim Bey, tailed by Bulgarian secret agents working for the Russians. They are in turn tailed by Grant, who kills one of them after Bond is taken back to his hotel, stealing their car and dumping it outside the Soviet Consulate in order to provoke hostilities between British and Soviet Intelligence. In response, the Soviets bomb Kerim's office with a limpet mine – but Kerim is away from his desk for a tryst with his mistress. He and Bond then investigate the attack by spying on a Soviet consulate meeting through a periscope installed in the underground aqueducts beneath Istanbul. Thus, they learn that the Soviet agent Krilenku is responsible for the bombing. Kerim Bey declares it unwise to stay in the city under such circumstances and takes Bond to a rural gypsy settlement. However, Krilenku learns of this and promptly attacks a Gypsy feast (where Bond and Kerim are honoured guests) with a band of hired Bulgarian fighters. Much to Bond's confusion, he is saved from an enemy fighter during the attack by a distant sniper shot from Grant. The following night, Bond and Kerim Bey track Krilenku down to his hideout, where Kerim Bey kills him with Bond's rifle.
Upon returning to his hotel suite that night, Bond finds Romanova waiting for him in his bed and has sex with her; neither are aware that SPECTRE is filming them. The next day, Romanova heads off for a pre-arranged rendezvous at Hagia Sophia to drop off the floor plans for the consulate, with Grant ensuring Bond receives the plans by killing the other Bulgarian tail who attempts to intercept the drop. Using the plans, Bond and Kerim Bey successfully steal the Lektor and, together with Romanova, escape with the device onto the Orient Express. On the train, Kerim Bey quickly notices a Soviet security officer named Benz tailing them, prompting him and Bond to subdue him. When Bond leaves Benz and Kerim Bey alone together, Grant kills them and makes it appear as though they killed each other, preventing Bond from leaving the train with Romanova to rendezvous with one of Kerim's men.
At the railway station in Belgrade, Bond passes on word of Kerim Bey's death to one of his sons, and asks for an agent from Station Y to meet him at Zagreb. However, when the train arrives at the station, Grant intercepts Nash, sent from Station Y, killing the agent before posing as him. After drugging Romanova at dinner, Grant overpowers Bond before taunting him about SPECTRE's involvement in the theft. After disclosing that Romanova was unaware of what was truly going on, believing she was working for Russia, Grant reveals to Bond his plans to leave behind the film SPECTRE took of him and Romanova at the hotel, along with a forged blackmail letter, to make it appear that their deaths were the result of a murder-suicide, to scandalise the British intelligence community. Bond quickly convinces him to accept a bribe of gold sovereigns in exchange for a final cigarette, tricking Grant into setting off the booby trap in his attaché case. This distracts Grant enough for Bond to attack him in brutal hand-to-hand combat. In the ensuing fight, Bond narrowly gains the upper hand, stabbing Grant with the case's concealed knife before strangling him with his own garrotte. Bond then drags the comatose Romanova from the train (which has been stopped by a SPECTRE accomplice), where he hijacks Grant's getaway truck and flees the scene with Romanova.
Upon hearing the news of Grant's death, Number 1 calls Klebb and Kronsteen onto the carpet to explain what went wrong and remind them that SPECTRE does not tolerate failure. Kronsteen is executed by the henchman Morzeny, with a kick from the poison-tipped switchblade in his shoe. Klebb, however, is given one last chance to make good on the mission and acquire the Lektor (which has already been promised to the Russians in a sell-back scheme).
The next morning, Bond's stolen truck is intercepted along its escape route by a SPECTRE helicopter, but 007 destroys the attacking aircraft by shooting its co-pilot with his sniper rifle, causing the man to drop a live hand grenade in the cockpit. Thus, Bond and Romanova make it to Grant's escape boat on the Dalmatian coast and steal that, too, only to be pursued by Morzeny, who leads a squadron of SPECTRE powerboats. Bond, however, escapes by dumping his own powerboat's fuel drums overboard and detonating them with a Very flare to engulf all the chase boats in a sea of flames.
Eventually, he and Romanova reach a hotel in Venice, where they believe themselves to be safe. Klebb, however, disguised as a maid, makes one final attempt on Bond and the Lektor. In a climactic fight with Bond, she tries to kick him with a poisoned switchblade shoe, but Romanova shoots her with her own dropped gun. With the mission accomplished, Bond and Romanova leave Venice on a romantic boat ride, in which course Bond throws Grant's blackmail film into the canal.
- Sean Connery as James Bond: Secret Intelligence Service Agent 007.
- Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova (voiced by Barbara Jefford): Soviet Consulate clerk and Bond's love interest. Fleming based Romanova on Christine Granville.
- Pedro Armendáriz as Ali Kerim Bey: Head of MI6 Station T in Istanbul.
- Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb: A former SMERSH colonel, now "Number 3" for SPECTRE.
- Robert Shaw as Donald "Red" Grant: Cunning SPECTRE assassin and one of the principal Bond enemies.
- Bernard Lee as M: Chief of British Intelligence.
- Walter Gotell as Morzeny: SPECTRE thug who trains personnel on SPECTRE Island.
- Vladek Sheybal as Kronsteen: Czechoslovakia chess grandmaster and "Number 5" for SPECTRE.
- "?" (anonymous credit for Anthony Dawson (body) and Eric Pohlmann (voice)) as "Number 1" (Ernst Stavro Blofeld): Chief of SPECTRE and Bond's nemesis.
- Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny: M's secretary.
- Desmond Llewelyn as Major Boothroyd: Head of MI6 Q Branch, referred to as the "Equipment Officer"
- Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench: Bond's semi-regular girlfriend.
- Francis de Wolff as Vavra: Chief of a Gypsy tribe used for dirty work by Kerim Bey.
- George Pastell as the Orient Express train conductor.
- Fred Haggerty as Krilencu: A Bulgarian assassin who works as a killer for the Soviets in the Balkans.
- Aliza Gur and Martine Beswick as Vida and Zora, respectively: Two jealous Gypsy girls who are disputing the same man.
- Nadja Regin as Kerim Bey's lonely girlfriend.
Following the financial success of Dr. No, United Artists greenlit a second James Bond film. The studio doubled the budget offered to Eon Productions with $2 million, and also approved a bonus for Sean Connery, who would receive $100,000 along with his $54,000 salary. As President John F. Kennedy had named Fleming's novel From Russia with Love among his ten favourite books of all time in Life magazine, producers Broccoli and Saltzman chose this as the follow-up to Bond's cinematic debut in Dr. No. From Russia with Love was the last film President Kennedy saw at the White House on 20 November 1963 before going to Dallas. Most of the crew from the first film returned, with major exceptions being production designer Ken Adam, who went to work on Dr. Strangelove and was replaced by Dr. No's art director Syd Cain; title designer Maurice Binder was replaced by Robert Brownjohn, and stunt coordinator Bob Simmons was unavailable and was replaced by Peter Perkins though Simmons performed stunts in the film. John Barry replaced Monty Norman as composer of the soundtrack.
The film introduced several conventions which would become essential elements of the series: a pre-title sequence, the Blofeld character (referred in the film only as "Number 1"), a secret-weapon gadget for Bond, a helicopter sequence (repeated in every subsequent Bond film except The Man with the Golden Gun), a postscript action scene after the main climax, a theme song with lyrics, and the line "James Bond will return/be back" in the credits.
Ian Fleming's novel was a Cold War thriller but the producers replaced the Soviet undercover agency SMERSH with the crime syndicate SPECTRE so as to avoid controversial political overtones. The SPECTRE training grounds were inspired by the film Spartacus. The original screenwriter was Len Deighton, who accompanied Harry Saltzman, Syd Cain, and Terence Young to Istanbul but he was replaced because of a lack of progress. Thus, two of Dr. No's writers, Johanna Harwood and Richard Maibaum, returned for the second film in the series Some sources state Harwood with being credited for "adaptation" mostly for her suggestions which were carried over into Maibaum's script. Harwood stated in an interview in a Cinema Retro that she had been a screenwriter of several of Harry Saltzman's projects, and her screenplay for From Russia with Love had followed Fleming's novel closely, but she left the series due to what she called Terence Young's constant rewriting of her screenplay with ideas that were not in the original Fleming work. Maibaum kept on making rewrites as filming progressed. Red Grant was added to the Istanbul scenes just prior to the film crew's trip to Turkey—a change that brought more focus to the SPECTRE plot, as Grant started saving Bond's life there (a late change during shooting involved Grant killing the bespectacled spy at Hagia Sophia instead of Bond, who ends up just finding the man dead). For the last quarter of the movie, Maibaum added two chase scenes, with a helicopter and speedboats, and changed the location of Bond and Klebb's battle from Paris to Venice.
Although uncredited, the actor who played Number 1 was Anthony Dawson, who had played Professor Dent in the previous Bond film, Dr. No and appeared in several of Terence Young's films. In the end credits, Blofeld is credited with a question mark. Blofeld's lines were redubbed by Viennese actor Eric Pohlmann in the final cut. Peter Burton was unavailable to return as Major Boothroyd, so Desmond Llewelyn, a Welsh actor who was a fan of the Bond comic strip published in the Daily Express, accepted the part. However, screen credit for Llewelyn was omitted at the opening of the film and is reserved for the exit credits, where he is credited simply as "Boothroyd". Llewelyn's character is not referred to by this name in dialogue, but M does introduce him as being from Q Branch. Llewelyn remained as the character, better known as Q, in all but one of the series' films until his death in 1999.
Several actresses were considered for the role of Tatiana, including Italians Sylva Koscina and Virna Lisi, Danish actress Annette Vadim, and English-born Tania Mallet. 1960 Miss Universe runner-up Daniela Bianchi was ultimately cast, supposedly Sean Connery's choice. Bianchi started taking English classes for the role, but the producers ultimately chose to have her lines redubbed by British stage actress Barbara Jefford in the final cut. The scene in which Bond finds Tatiana in his hotel bed was used for Bianchi's screen test, with Dawson standing in, this time, as Bond. The scene later became the traditional screen test scene for prospective James Bond actors and Bond Girls.
Greek actress Katina Paxinou was originally considered for the role of Rosa Klebb, but was unavailable. Terence Young cast Austrian singer Lotte Lenya after hearing one of her musical recordings. Young wanted Kronsteen's portrayer to be "an actor with a remarkable face", so the minor character would be well remembered by audiences. This led to the casting of Vladek Sheybal, whom Young also considered convincing as an intellectual. Several women were tested for the roles of Vida and Zora, the two fighting Gypsy girls, and after Aliza Gur and Martine Beswick were cast, they spent six weeks practising their fight choreography with stunt work arranger Peter Perkins. Beswick was mis-credited as 'Martin Beswick' in the films opening titles, but this small error was fixed for the 2001 DVD release.
Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz was recommended to Young by director John Ford to play Kerim Bey. After experiencing increasing discomfort on location in Istanbul, Armendáriz was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Filming in Istanbul was terminated, the production moved to Britain, and Armendáriz's scenes were brought forward so that he could complete his scenes without delay. Though visibly in pain, he continued working as long as possible. When he could no longer work, he returned home and took his own life. Remaining shots after Armendáriz left London had a stunt double and Terence Young himself as stand-ins.
Most of the film was set in Istanbul, Turkey. Locations included the Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia and the Sirkeci railway station which also was used for the Belgrade and Zagreb railway stations. The MI6 office in London, SPECTRE Island, the Venice hotel and the interior scenes of the Orient Express were filmed at Pinewood Studios with some footage of the train. In the film, the train journey was set in Eastern Europe. The journey and the truck ride were shot in Argyll, Scotland and Switzerland. The end scenes for the film were shot in Venice. However, to qualify for the British film funding of the time, at least 70 percent of the film had to have been filmed in Great Britain or the Commonwealth. The Gypsy camp was also to be filmed in an actual camp in Topkapi, but was actually shot in a replica of it in Pinewood. The scene with rats (after the theft of the Lektor) was shot in Spain, as Britain did not allow filming with wild rats, and an attempt filming white rats painted in cocoa in Turkey did not work. Principal photography began on 1 April 1963, and wrapped on 23 August. Ian Fleming spent a week in the Istanbul shoot, supervising production and touring the city with the producers.
Director Terence Young's eye for realism was evident throughout production. For the opening chess match, Kronsteen wins the game with a re-enactment of Boris Spassky's victory over David Bronstein in 1960. Production Designer Syd Cain built up the "chess pawn" motif in his $150,000 set for the brief sequence. Cain also later added a promotion to another movie Eon was producing, making Kirilenko's death happen inside a billboard for Call Me Bwana. A noteworthy gadget featured was the attaché case (briefcase) issued by Q Branch. It had a tear gas bomb that detonated if the case was improperly opened, a folding AR-7 sniper rifle with twenty rounds of ammunition, a throwing knife, and 50 gold sovereigns. A boxer at Cambridge, Young choreographed the fight between Grant and Bond along with stunt co-ordinator Peter Perkins. The scene took three weeks to film and was violent enough to worry some on the production. Yet Robert Shaw and Connery did most of the stunts themselves.
After the unexpected loss of Armendáriz, production proceeded, experiencing complications from uncredited rewrites by Berkely Mather during filming. Editor Peter Hunt set about editing the film while key elements were still to be filmed, helping to restructure the opening scenes. Hunt and Young conceived of moving the Red Grant training sequence to the beginning of the film (prior to the main title), a signature feature that has been an enduring hallmark of every Bond film since. The briefing with Blofeld was rewritten, and back projection was used to re-film Lotte Lenya's lines.
Behind schedule and over-budget, the production crew struggled to complete production in time for the already-announced premiere date that October. On 6 July 1963, while scouting locations in Argyll, Scotland for that day's filming of the climactic boat chase, Terence Young's helicopter crashed into the water with art director Michael White and a cameraman aboard. The craft sank into 40–50 feet (12–15 m) of water, but all escaped with minor injuries. Despite the calamity, Young was behind the camera for the full day's work. A few days later, Bianchi's driver fell asleep during the commute to a 6 am shoot and crashed the car. The actress's face was bruised and Bianchi's scenes had to be delayed for two weeks while the facial contusions healed.
The helicopter and boat chase scenes were not in the original novel but were added to create an action climax. The former was inspired by the crop-dusting scene in Hitchcock's North by Northwest and the latter by a previous Young/Broccoli/Maibaum collaboration, The Red Beret. These two scenes would initially be shot in Istanbul but were moved to Scotland. The speed-boats could not run fast enough due to the many waves in the sea, and a rented boat filled with cameras ended up sinking in the Bosphorus. A helicopter was also hard to obtain, and the special effects crew were nearly arrested trying to get one at a local air base. The helicopter chase was filmed with a radio controlled miniature helicopter. The sounds of the boat chase were replaced in post-production since the boats were not loud enough, and the explosion, shot in Pinewood, got out of control, burning Walter Gotell's eyelids and seriously injuring three stuntmen.
Photographer David Hurn was commissioned by the producers of the James Bond films to shoot a series of stills with Sean Connery and the actresses of the film. When the theatrical property Walther PPK pistol did not arrive, Hurn volunteered the use of his own Walther LP-53 air pistol. Though the photographs of the "James Bond is Back" posters of the US release airbrushed out the long barrel of the pistol, film poster artist Renato Fratini used the long-barrelled pistol for his drawings of Connery on the British posters.
For the opening credits, Maurice Binder had disagreements with the producers and did not want to return. Designer Robert Brownjohn stepped into his place, and projected the credits on female dancers, inspired by constructivist artist László Moholy-Nagy projecting light onto clouds in the 1920s. Brownjohn's work started the tradition of scantily clad women in the Bond films' title sequences.
From Russia with Love is the first Bond film in the series with John Barry as the primary soundtrack composer. The theme song 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 beginning with Barry's brief James Bond is Back then segueing into Monty Norman's "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. Barry travelled with the crew to Turkey to try getting influences of the local music, but ended up using almost nothing, just local instruments such as finger cymbals to give an exotic feeling, since he thought the Turkish music had a comedic tone that did not fit in the "dramatic feeling" of the James Bond movies.
"Recalling his visit to Istanbul, John Barry said, "It was like no place I'd ever been in my life. [The Trip] was supposedly to seep up the music, so Noel Rogers and I used to go 'round to these nightclubs and listen to all this stuff. We had the strangest week, and really came away with nothing, except a lot of ridiculous stories. We went back, talked to Lionel, and then he wrote 'From Russia with Love.'''
In this film, Barry introduced the percussive theme "007"—action music that came to be considered the "secondary James Bond theme". He composed it to have a lighter, enthusiastic and more adventurous theme to relax the audience. The arrangement appears twice on the 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 Dr. No is played in From Russia with Love during the helicopter and speedboat attacks.
Release and reception
From Russia with Love premiered on 10 October 1963 at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. Ian Fleming, Sean Connery and Walter Gotell attended the premiere. The following year, it was released in 16 countries worldwide, with the United States premiere on 8 April 1964, at New York's Astor Theatre. Upon its first release, From Russia with Love doubled Dr. No's gross by earning $12.5 million ($99 million in 2017 dollars) at the worldwide box office. After reissue it grossed $78 million, of which $24 million was from North America. It was the most popular movie at the British box office in 1963.
The film's cinematographer Ted Moore won the BAFTA award and the British Society of Cinematographers award for Best Cinematography. At the 1965 Laurel Awards, Lotte Lenya stood third for Best Female Supporting Performance, and the film secured second place in the Action-Drama category. The film was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for "From Russia with Love".
In comparing the film to its predecessor, Dr. No, Richard Roud, writing in The Guardian, said that From Russia with Love "didn't seem quite so lively, quite so fresh, or quite so rhythmically fast-moving." He went on to say that "... the film is highly immoral in every imaginable way; it is neither uplifting, instructive nor life-enhancing. Neither is it great film-making. But it sure is fun." Writing in The Observer, Penelope Gilliatt noted that "The way the credits are done has the same self-mocking flamboyance as everything else in the picture." Gilliatt went on to say that the film manages "to keep up its own cracking pace, nearly all the way. The set-pieces are a stunning box of tricks". The critic for The Times wrote of Bond that he is "the secret ideal of the congenital square, conventional in every particular ... except in morality, where he has the courage—and the physical equipment—to do without thinking what most of us feel we might be doing ..." The critic thought that overall, "the nonsense is all very amiable and tongue-in-cheek and will no doubt make a fortune for its devisers".
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times said: "Don't miss it! This is to say, don't miss it if you can still get the least bit of fun out of lurid adventure fiction and pseudo-realistic fantasy. For this mad melodramatization of a desperate adventure of Bond with sinister characters in Istanbul and on the Orient Express is fictional exaggeration on a grand scale and in a dashing style, thoroughly illogical and improbable, but with tongue blithely wedged in cheek."
Time magazine called the film "fast, smart, shrewdly directed and capably performed" and commented extensively on the film's humour, saying "Director Young is a master of the form he ridicules, and in almost every episode he hands the audience shocks as well as yocks. But the yocks are more memorable. They result from slight but sly infractions of the thriller formula. A Russian agent, for instance, does not simply escape through a window; no, he escapes through a window in a brick wall painted with a colossal poster portrait of Anita Ekberg, and as he crawls out of the window, he seems to be crawling out of Anita's mouth. Or again, Bond does not simply train a telescope on the Russian consulate and hope he can read somebody's lips; no, he makes his way laboriously into a gallery beneath the joint, runs a submarine periscope up through the walls, and there, at close range, inspects two important Soviet secrets: the heroine's legs."
From Russia with Love received generally positive reviews from critics; Rotten Tomatoes sampled 49 reviewers and judged 96% of the reviews to be positive with a rating of 8/10. Its summary states: " The second James Bond film, From Russia with Love is a razor-sharp, briskly-paced Cold War thriller that features several electrifying action scenes." Many online sites also commonly state From Russia with Love as the best Bond film of all time.
In his 1986 book, Danny Peary described From Russia with Love as "an excellent, surprisingly tough and gritty James Bond film" which is "refreshingly free of the gimmickry that would characterise the later Bond films, and Connery and Bianchi play real people. We worry about them and hope their relationship will work out ... Shaw and Lotte Lenya are splendid villains. Both have exciting, well-choreographed fights with Connery. Actors play it straight, with excellent results."
Film critic James Berardinelli cited this as his favourite Bond film, writing "Only From Russia with Love avoids slipping into the comic book realm of Goldfinger and its successors while giving us a sampling of the familiar Bond formula (action, gadgets, women, cars, etc.). From Russia with Love is effectively paced and plotted, features a gallery of detestable rogues (including the ultimate Bond villain, Blofeld), and offers countless thrills".
In June 2001 Neil Smith of BBC Films called it "a film that only gets better with age". In 2004, Total Film magazine named it the ninth-greatest British film of all time, making it the only James Bond film to appear on the list. In 2006, Jay Antani of Filmcritic praised the film's "impressive staging of action scenes", while IGN listed it as second-best Bond film ever, behind only Goldfinger. That same year, Entertainment Weekly put the film at ninth among Bond films, criticising the slow pace. When the "James Bond Ultimate Collector's Set" was released in November 2007 by MGM, Norman Wilner of MSN chose From Russia with Love as the best Bond film. Conversely, in his book about the Bond phenomenon, The Man With the Golden Touch, British author Sinclair McKay states "I know it is heresy to say so, and that some enthusiasts regard From Russia With Love as the Holy Grail of Bond, but let's be searingly honest – some of it is crashingly dull." In 2014 Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films; From Russia With Love was listed at 69.
The British Film Institute's screenonline guide called the film "one of the series' high points" and said it "had advantages not enjoyed by many later Bond films, notably an intelligent script that retained the substance of Ian Fleming's novel while toning down the overt Cold War politics (the Cuban Missile Crisis had only occurred the previous year)." In 2008, Michael G. Wilson, the current co-producer of the series, stated "We always start out trying to make another From Russia with Love and end up with another Thunderball." Sean Connery, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig also consider this their favourite Bond film. Albert Broccoli listed it with Goldfinger and The Spy Who Loved Me as one of his top three favourites, explaining that he felt "it was with this film that the Bond style and formula were perfected".
Video game adaptation
In 2005, the From Russia with Love video game was developed by Electronic Arts and released on 1 November 2005 in North America. It follows the storyline of the book and film, albeit adding in new scenes, making it more action-oriented. One of the most significant changes to the story is the replacement of the organisation SPECTRE to OCTOPUS because the name SPECTRE constituted a long-running legal dispute over the film rights to Thunderball between United Artists/MGM and writer Kevin McClory. Most of the cast from the film returned in likeness. Connery not only allowed his 1960s likeness as Bond to be used, but the actor, in his 70s, also recorded the character's dialogue, marking a return to the role 22 years after he last played Bond in Never Say Never Again. Featuring a third-person multiplayer deathmatch mode, the game depicts several elements of later Bond films such as the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger (1964) and the rocketbelt from Thunderball (1965).
The game was penned by Bruce Feirstein who previously worked on the film scripts for GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, and the 2004 video game, Everything or Nothing. Its soundtrack was composed by Christopher Lennertz and Vic Flick.
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- From Russia With Love at BFI Screenonline
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- From Russia with Love at AllMovie
- From Russia with Love at the American Film Institute Catalog
- From Russia with Love at Rotten Tomatoes
- From Russia with Love at Box Office Mojo
- From Russia With Love from MGM