Movie Review: From Russia, With Love (1963)

Oh please, Blofeld and Spectre again? Why did they do this in the movie script? It was simply Smersh in the book. Klebb, Grant and Kronsteen are now Spectre members instead of being Russian agents. And they even have a “Spectre Island.” Call Mr Rourke.

It seems they’ve done this to connect the story back to the Dr No movie, which was released before this one. Unlike in that novel, Dr No was presented as a Spectre agent in that film as well. So now that organization wants revenge against Bond. They also want the decoding machine that Tania is stealing.

To be fair, this is only the second Bond film, so it’s not like they’ve done the Blofeld/Spectre thing to death yet in their timeline. It just seems that way to me, since I know they inserted Spectre into so many of the films.

The Spectre agents are using Russia as a “straw man,” which preserves some of the novel’s set-ups. But it really does strain the theme of the title, “From Russia With Love.” Apparently it’s “From Spectre With Love” here. Honestly I’d prefer more Cold War, and less Hollywood supervillains. On the other hand, they seem to have made a point of using many of the lines from the novel, and I like that.

There are some really bad Russian accents. And boy do they overdo use of the soundtrack in this one. Bond entering his bathroom is accompanied by blaring 007 theme music. Really? I don’t think I want to know why. Suffice it to say that there are very few quiet moments.

Wow, Bond has a pager and a car phone! Not exactly standard-issue in 1963. There’s also a kid on a leash, as was popular not too long ago. I sure don’t remember seeing that in the 60’s though.

Additional action sequences thrown in as is usual with the films. I suppose it wasn’t nearly as much as in the later films, but I have to say that given the option of reading a Fleming novel or an Eon film, I’d prefer a novel. Fewer mindless chases in planes, trains and automobiles.

On the other hand I thought the ending of the novel version was a little abrupt and unresolved in this case, so I liked the ending of the film better.

Bottom line, it’s not a bad film, it’s just a little shallow. Especially when contrasted with the book. Worth a watch to see Connery in his second Bond venture.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: From Russia, With Love (1963)

  1. Another factor in the ’60s was that maybe they were trying to downplay the Russians as baddies? After the Cuban missile crisis we were all starting to think we’d better not keep sliding down that Cold War slope. If they did a remake now, though, then the novel’s plotline would work fine — except that Bond would be crippled by Novichok in the first act.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s possible they wanted to downplay criticism of Russia. Seems unlikely to me that the producers would care, but hey, it might’ve been a factor. I still have to read and then watch Dr No, then I’ll have a better basis to speculate.


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