From Russia With Love [DVD]

From Russia With Love [DVD]
From Russia With Love [DVD] (click images to enlarge)

From Russia With Love [DVD]

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REF 241

Directed with consummate skill by Terence Young, From Russia With Love, the second James Bond spy thriller, is considered by many fans to be the best of them all. Certainly Sean Connery was never better as the dashing Agent 007, whose mission takes him to Istanbul to retrieve a top-secret Russian decoding machine. His efforts are thwarted when he gets romantically distracted by a sexy Russian double agent (Daniela Bianchi), and is tracked by an assassin (Lotte Lenya) with switchblade shoes, and by a crazed killer (Robert Shaw), who clashes with Bond during the film's dazzling climax aboard the Orient Express. From Russia with Love is classic James Bond, before the gadgets, pyrotechnics and Roger Moore steered the movies away from the more realistic tone of the books by Ian Fleming. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD: The "making of" documentary details the many problems that beset this production: actor Pedro Armendariz (Kerim Bey) was diagnosed with terminal cancer halfway through shooting so all his scenes had to be done before he became too ill to work (he died shortly afterwards); a helicopter carrying the director and designer crashed into a lake, but despite being narrowly rescued from drowning Young was shooting half an hour later; and Italian actress-model Daniela Bianchi's car crashed en route to location. Key scenes had to be reshot after the production had wrapped, and because of script problems and rewrites, much of the film's structure was assembled in the editing room. The audio commentary is another montage of interviews from cast and crew that is alternately absorbing and irritating (exhaustive biogs of every player too often run over key scenes that would have benefited from analysis). An appreciation of flamboyant co-producer Harry Saltzman, trailers and stills complete the package. --Mark Walker

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