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Rants and Raves: ‘From Russia With Love’

Best. Bond. Ever.

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.

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

United Artists

Above: 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!

Comments

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | June 16, 2012 at 5:22 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

I couldn't agree more! I grew up with Roger Moore in the role of James Bond and although I liked Roger Moore, once I started watching Sean Connery's portrayal I can see why he's the BEST bond.

Connery makes James Bond come to life, and From Russia With Love is probably the only film that follows the book. The fight scene with Robert Shaw's character, Red Grant, on the Orient Express is still today the best fight scene on film. It's real with no fancy, unbelievable moves. This was one of the few films that we see James Bond relying on his wits more than gadgets. I don't count the briefcase in this film as gadgety because they are real enough, unlike the silly props Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan used.

I'm glad to see Daniel Craig following up the role because he's the best bond since Connery and I look forward to the next one due out in November. However, I don't believe anyone will be better than Connery's portrayal. But I also like Connery and Craig for the fact they can do other films outside of the Bond character.

Connery was magnificent and believable in The Wind and the Lion, The Man Who Would Be King. Craig also fit into the roles he played in Layer Cake and The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo.

I'm looking forward to going to the movies.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | June 17, 2012 at 11:32 a.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

Totally agree. I love that train fight too and seeing it on the big screen last night was so much fun. And I think Craig is the best Bond after Connery.

Love Wind and the Lion! Man Who Would Be King is great too but so sad.

Thanks for the comments and stirring some film memories.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | June 17, 2012 at 8:59 p.m. ― 2 years, 4 months ago

The literary "Bond" was a Fascist with a capital "f" according to Roger Moore. (See Merv Griffin Show), as was Mr. Fleming himself. Probably even hung out with Lord Haw Haw in secret! I see Craig more as a moody, cold, UNSYMPATHETIC azz-kicker. None of the Craig movies come close to the fun of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and Tim Dalton is a much better actor than Craig. No competition.

Daniela Bianchi, a former beauty contestant in Italy, is hot hot hot and one of the more underrated Bond girls! She should have at least been as well known as say, Eva Renzi or Britt Ekland.

Film boasts what is probably one of the better mano a manos of the 60's along with Frankie and Henry Silva in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

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