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From Russia with Love(1963)
Secret agent James Bond battles the all-enveloping tentacles of an international crime syndicate called SPECTRE. The organization's mad plan for world supremacy unfolds with the icy efficiency of a chessmaster's complex strategy, and if they succeed, the antagonism of the cold war will be pushed from deep-freeze to the supernova of atomic oblivion. But our man Bond dispatches sultry spies, madmen, and double agents with the same coolness he displays while downing Martinis and making love to beautiful blondes. In this, the second of the series, Bond travels to Turkey to meet a mysterious Russian woman who claims to have fallen in love with his photograph. She offers him a secret translating device if he will join her, although he does not know that she has been put up to the task by Rosa Klebb, formerly of the KGB, who has gone to work for SPECTRE. It's Bond's assignment to get the girl and the machine back to England — and to do it, of course, in style.
For more about From Russia with Love and the From Russia with Love Blu-ray release, see From Russia with Love Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on March 16, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Terence Young
Writers: Johanna Harwood, Richard Maibaum, Ian Fleming
Starring: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendáriz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw (I), Bernard Lee (I)
» See full cast & crew
From Russia with Love Blu-ray Review
Bond's second filmed adventure
Reviewed by Ben Williams, March 16, 2009
By the time that From Russia With Love premiered in theaters in 1963, James Bond fever had already gripped the world. Audiences were swept away to the realm of spies, international intrigue and a protagonist who loved his martinis, cars and women almost as much as he loved his home country of the United Kingdom. The previous year, film audiences were introduced to the dashing spy with Dr. No, making a household name out of the previously unknown Sean Connery, almost overnight. As the second film in the series, From Russia With Love capitalized on Connery's popularity, his character's decadent lifestyle and building real-world tensions between western nations and the Soviet Union. Any doubts in Bond's popularity were immediately forgotten; From Russia With Love smashed box office records around the world, cementing James Bond's place in film history.
The second James Bond filmed adventure finds everyone's favorite gentleman spy on a mission to retrieve a top-secret Soviet decoding machine known as the LEKTOR. Bond (Sean Connery) travels to Istanbul to intercept a defecting Soviet agent who possesses the device. Little does Bond know that SPECTRE, the menacing terrorist organization hinted at in Dr. No, has set a trap for him; they intend to exact their revenge for Bond's involvement with the death of their comrade in arms, Dr. No. Bond will dodge SPECTRE's assassination attempts at every turn while outwitting Russian agents, seducing the ladies and meeting new foes with some devilishly dangerous footwear. By boat, train and plane, Bond will take on the forces of destruction and chaos in a race across Europe, keeping the LEKTOR out of the hands of SPECTRE.
After the relatively confined Caribbean locale of Dr. No, From Russia With Love serves as more of a travel-log, jet-set Bond adventure. The film feels more exotic and dangerous; Bond visits locations that must have been seldom seen in films from the 60s, giving the film a more thrilling and mysterious flavor. It's the perfect paranoid adventure for the height of the Cold War, while still delivering Soviet characters who manage to come across as sympathetic compared to the diabolical craziness of SPECTRE's cadre of baddies. In From Russia With Love, we are finally introduced to the SPECTRE organization; their leader Blofeld (Anthony Dawson), assassin Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and the ruthless Red Grant (Robert Shaw) all amp up the villainy with their dreams of world domination. By contrast, Bond's major love interest in the film is Russian; Daniela Bianci's Tatiana Romanova proves to be a first rate Bond girl.
There are many notable firsts in From Russia With Love. Desmond Llewelyn makes his first appearance as "Q" - - he'd appear in every subsequent Bond film until his death in 1999. Along with "Q" came a ton of new gadgets, including a pager, bug detector and a car phone. Bernard Lee returns as "M", Bond's boss and the head of MI6, while the ever- present Lois Maxwell reprises her role as Miss Moneypenny; a role she'd continue well into the next decade. Of course, the real draw still lies with Sean Connery; he's a little more confident as James Bond in his second outing, while still exuding a fresh excitement for the role. From Russia With Love is his movie and he enjoys every second of it.
Perhaps the best reason to enjoy From Russia With Love all over again, aside from Connery's great performance, comes from the inclusion of one of the series' best villains. The amazing Robert Shaw steals every scene he occupies as Red Grant. He's Bond's first real nemesis to appear in the films and he serves as an excellent, evil counterpoint to the witty British agent. While From Russia With Love isn't my absolute favorite of the Bond films, it comes pretty darn close. It's a must buy addition to any Bond fan's collection, as well as a film that every budding Bond fan should own. From Russia With Love is a true classic that is highly recommended.
From Russia with Love Blu-ray, Video Quality
Encoded with the AVC Mpeg-4 compression codec, framed at the film's original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and presented in full 1080p, From Russia With Love makes its high definition debut in a stunning Blu-ray package of incredible quality. For a 46 year old film, the folks over at MGM and Lowry Digital Images have done a remarkable job cleaning up the film and removing any annoying print damage. The film looks fresh and ready for action.
Some might notice a few slight instances of edge enhancement on From Russia With Love; fortunately, this occurs rarely and is barely noticeable. Otherwise, the transfer features black levels and contrast fitting a picture of 60s origin, a remarkable level of detail, vivid, if slightly dated, color reproduction and an absolute absence of additional digital artifacts and anomalies. I've never seen From Russia With Love look anywhere near this good; Bond fans are going to be in heaven with this excellent Blu-ray release. Highly recommended.
From Russia with Love Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Much like the other classic Bond releases from MGM, From Russia With Love has been given a spruced-up surround sound mix in lossless 5.1 DTS-Master Audio. It's an involving track with plenty of surround activity and excellent use of rear directional effects, but does often show the limits of the sound recording equipment used in the 1960. Viewers will often hear a slight hissing sound during the film's quieter moments, while many of the action effects have a slightly metallic and clunky sound to them.
I wouldn't classify any of these issues as problems, however. From Russia With Love is a 46 year old film at this point; there are going to be limitations to any material of such an advanced age. I am, however, impressed with how much mileage the sound designers were able to squeeze out of these antiquated tracks. Dialogue is mostly intelligible, with very few passages that sound less than ideal. The film's score is also well represented and sounds as though it could have been recorded yesterday. While From Russia With Love isn't going to challenge the likes of Transformers or Black Hawk Down in the sound department, it is a remarkable remaster that provides a well-updated surround experience. Recommended.
From Russia with Love Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
- Feature Audio commentary Hosted by Producer John Cork, featuring Director Terence Young and various cast and crew members
- Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview
- Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler
- Ian Fleming on Desert Island Discs
- "Inside From Russia With Love"
- "Harry Salzman: Showman"
- Animated Storyboard Sequence
- 007 Mission Control
- Mission Combat Manual: Action Sequences
- Q branch: Gadgets
- Exotic Locations
- TV Broadcasts
- Image Database
As one of the better special features sets among the first six classic Bond films released by MGM, From Russia With Love does an exceptional job of positioning the film within the historical and cultural climate of the 60s. My favorite feature is a thorough commentary track hosted by DVD producer John Cork. He's assembled a series of sound-bites and audio clips from various members of the cast and crew, including Director Terence Young. Great stuff! I was also particularly fond of the vintage radio and television interviews with Bond creator Ian Fleming. Mr. Fleming was an opinionated man, never at a loss for words and never afraid to speak his mind. The set's animated storyboard sequence is interesting, and I found several of the more gadget and gear related features to be entertaining. Finally, the "Inside From Russia With Love" featurette does an exceptional job of outlining the film's production, while featuring a ton of great vintage clips and behind the scenes exclusives. It's an informative and well-conceived documentary that is a must-watch for any Bond fan. All told, I'm very impressed with what's been included with From Russia With Love; MGM should be commended for their excellent work.
From Russia with Love Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
From Russia With Love is one of my personal favorites among the varions James Bond films. With Sean Connery at his prime, featuring a story pulled directly from an Ian Fleming novel, the film remains one of the storied series' finest achievements. MGM continues to do fine work with their restorative work on the Bond franchise; From Russia With Love looks better than could have been expected for a film of its advanced age, while sounding thoroughly updated and exciting. The set's supplemental features are also well assembled, giving a nice historical perspective on the film's production and cultural impact. Bond fans will doubtlessly line up to purchase From Russia With Love on Blu-ray. Those viewers not familiar with the film will be treated to one of the series' best; it's a film that contains a tremendous amount of legendary material that must be seen. This exceptional Blu-ray release is highly recommended.
From Russia with Love: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with From Russia with Love (4 bundles)
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From Russia with Love Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - October 21st - October 21, 2008
James Bond represents a lifestyle that many people want to live and few can afford. As the world's top secret agent, 007 gets to travel the world to exotic locations, making use of his fast cars and cool gadgets to save the world over and over again (with just ...
• James Bond Blu-ray Releases Get Detailed - July 29, 2008
MGM Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of the James Bond films 'Dr. No', 'Die Another Day', 'Live and Let Die', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'From Russia With Love', and 'Thunderball', due to hit ...
• Bond is Officially Blu - June 18, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment in conjunction with MGM Home Entertainment have announced that they will bring six classic James Bond films to Blu-ray this fall. All six title - 'Dr. No', 'Die Another Day', 'Live and Let Die', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'From Russia with Love', ...
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