1963 Running time: 111 Certificate: pg Rating: 4

Synopsis

In his second outing, Sean Connery's James Bond is SPECTRE's target as revenge for the killing of Dr No. Robert Shaw is Red Grant, the cold-blooded assassin stalking him across Europe while Lotte Lenya memorably plays Rosa Klebb, the villainess with a poison-tipped shoe. A leaner, tauter action thriller than Dr No, this is also enriched by a score from John Barry, taking up his baton as principal composer for the first time.

Director

  • Terence Young

Cast

  • Sean Connery

  • Robert Shaw

  • Daniela Bianchi

  • Lotte Lenya

  • Bernard Lee

Review

After the full-blown action ofDr No with its hi-tech lair, sun-kissed locations and megalomaniac villain, this saw Bond getting back to basics in a more character-driven outing.

Evil SPECTRE number three Rosa Klebb (Lenya) tricks him into coming to Turkey where a mysterious Russian woman - lowly cypher clerk Tatiana Romanova (Bianchi) - claims to have fallen in love with his photograph.

What 007 doesn't know is that she's working for the fiendish Klebb, who has also recruited ruthless hitman Red Grant (Shaw) as her killing machine of choice in revenge for the undoing of Dr No.

After he arrives in Istanbul, Bond is shadowed by Grant who ensures he stays safe (even going so far as to despatch as would-be assassin during a ruck at a gypsy camp) so 007 stays alive long enough for Grant to administer the coup de grace in a suitably grisly manner.

However, it's Bond we're talking about here - an unreconstructed Cold War warrior played with icy steel by the inspirationally-cast Connery. By this time, he's already bedded Romanova, grabbed a Soviet cryptograph machine and booked a double berth on the Orient Express.

But Grant's not far behind him...and has murder on his sociopathic mind.

One of the finest Bond outings, this flourished in the paranoia of the times before the franchise was devalued by an over-reliance on gadgets, camp quips and a skittish lack of focus or direction.

Even if the film didn't boast the exotic locations (it was over-budget and 70% had to be filmed in Britain to qualify for funding), the action, although on a smaller scale, was up to snuff, particularly Bond's bone-jarring joust to the death with Grant on a speeding train.

Klebb - the bitch from hell, sporting poison-tipped shoes - was a blood-freezing villain and Grant , the template for Jaws and any number of Aryan henchman later, was better than any of them, a real, three-dimensional terminator.

The film also marked the first (near) appearance of Persian cat-petting SPECTRE boss Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played by Dr No villain Anthony Dawson) and what would become the standard pre-credit sequence.

There was also the first appearance of the gadget - here an attache case containing a sniper's rifle, a knife in a spring-loaded compartment and a safety mechanism which detonates a gas bomb.

It's a sterling affair, both fresh and savvy, with all the politically-incorrect constituent parts - Connery's Bond, the richly-detailed villains, the beautifully disposable Bond girl - firing on all cylinders.

Perhaps the greatest compliment comes from the Daniel Craig-era producer Michael G Wilson who says: We always start out trying to make another From Russia with Love and end up with another Thunderball."

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