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Rants and Raves: ‘From Russia With Love’

Best. Bond. Ever.

Credit: United Artists

Above: Sean Connery as 007 in "From Russia With Love."

I have been a Bond, yes James Bond, fan since about the time I could walk and talk. So I'd like to suggest that the best film you could see this weekend is "From Russia With Love" (playing June 16-17 at Cinema Under the Stars.

Ask my parents about how big a fan I was. They hid my "Goldfinger" album because I was playing it day and night. Sean Connery will always be my favorite Bond, although I have quite enjoyed the recent reboot with Daniel Craig, who captures the literary Bond better than anyone else. But Sean is 007 for me and "From Russia With Love" is the best of the Connery Bonds and the one that feels most like Ian Fleming's books.

"From Russia With Love" (1963) was the second Bond film. It followed "Dr. No" and came before "Goldfinger," and the first two were directed by Terrence Young, and the third by Guy Hamilton. The three films remain the best of the Bond franchise. Here's the trailer.

The film is great for many reason. First, the characters are strong and so is the narrative. It's a solidly crafted spy thriller with compelling dramatic elements. It also has a great pair of Bond villains in Robert Shaw's blond killer Red Grant and Lotte Lenya's lethal Rosa Kleb. And of course one of the best cat fights ever at the gypsy camp.

Credit: United Artists

Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana and Lotte Lenya as Rosa Kleb in "From Russia With Love."

There are gadgets (introduced for the first time by Desmond Llewelyn's Q) but ones very rooted in the real world and not outlandish as they would become in the more cartoonish Roger Moore films.

And of course there is Connery at his very best -- sexy, smart, and cold-blooded. OMG what a crush I had on him. I wanted to grow up to be Emma Peel (Diana Rigg from the TV show The Avengers) and I wanted to partner with James Bond in the world of espionage. I turned my Barbie dolls into spies and re-enacted plots from Bond movies. I even had a G.I. Joe doll that came with an attaché case with a spring loaded "bomb."

I have never lost my affection for these films and for me they hold up fine. I know some people, wanting to appear politically correct, dismiss them as being chauvinistic and even misogynistic. But I disagree. Bond may have been sexist but not necessarily the films. After all he generally was matched with women who could hold their own with him. They were smart, sexy, and independent (moderately less true with Tatiana here but more so with Honeychile in "Dr. No" and Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger"). And in "From Russia With Love" he had to face a tough female opponent in Rosa Kleb.

Bond 23, "Skyfall," comes out later this year -- after numerous delays because of studio financial woes -- with Daniel Craig reprising his role as 007. So what better way to whet your appetite for Bond than with this truly classic adaptation of Fleming's book. See you under the stars!

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