Tuesday, October 28, 2008

From Russia With Love (1963)

Boy, I did not enjoy this like I thought I would. It was actually one of the few Bonds I hadn't seen yet, which I know is odd since it's one of the more memorable entries in terms of setting certain conventions. But the movie just didn't do much for me. It was cool seeing Robert Shaw as a blonde-haired sociopath, and the first 20 minutes or so were a great set-up, but the execution left me bored. Daniela Bianchi's character had less to her than the usual Bond girl. (What a beauty, though!) I had no sense of her inner motivations at all once she took up with Bond. I never could tell if she truly loved him or was merely playing the part, but since the issue never became a plot point, you were just to assume that she, at some point, loved him. I guess there was that one scene where she wavered between shooting Bond or Frau Farbissina, but the direction and/or screenplay took no other steps to detail her character up to that point.

Cool parts: the brutal fist-fight between Connery and Shaw in the dark was pretty unique for movies from that era. Frau sucker-punching Shaw in the gut with brass knuckles was funny. The whole opening sequence was well-staged and a good/cheesy "gotcha!"

By the way, I rented the Blu-Ray version, and it looked wonderful.


_Shane said...

Funny, this is one of my favorite Bond films!

Ryan said...

I'm open to being the odd one out here. I'm betting I'm in the minority. I need to rewatch some of the other Connery Bonds now to see how they hold up.

I'm spoiled by the relentless entertainment that was Casino Royale!

_Shane said...

Casino Royale was excellent! Much better than anything since Connery in my opinion. I can't wait to see Quantum of Solace.

Taste in Bond films is funny. I'm a big Bond fan. I enjoy them all in one way or another. I know that they are not all great and some are actually pretty bad but I play along because I love the series. I would say on average most people who haven't seen any of the older films prior to seeing Casino Royale may be disappointed. Not because the old films are bad but the viewer is unfamiliar with the legacy of the series. I imagine this is even more so the case for those that have seen the Austin Powers films before watching any of the old Bond films. It's really hard to take Blofeld seriously as a villain with Dr. Evil in the back of your head.

Ryan said...

That was another funny thing about watching FRWL for the first time after all these years. I got the jokes in Austin Powers, but I hadn't seen all of the source material before: the strict old commandant lady, the "Number Two" stuff, the unseen villain stroking a cat, the button pressing, the killing of subordinates.

jeri said...

Yeah, you're definitely in the minority here. Ric looooves Bond films and I've been catching up with all of them as he watches them. I liked this one a lot.

If you had to pick favorites that AREN'T Casino Royale, what would they be?