Previously on The 007 Project: I was getting nervous because I didn’t super enjoy watching Dr. No and I was afraid I’d made a huge mistake choosing this as my new watch project.
But I took a deep breath, and stuck with it and watched From Russia With Love.
And you guys? I really liked this one. It is a much more fun watch than it’s predecessor. It’s cheekier, Connery gets to do more of the stuff I liked from him in Dr. No, and it’s a little bit less racist and sexist. (I mean, it’s still really racist and sexist you guys. This is not a woke franchise.)
Who’s Our Bond
We’re still in Connery land and I still love him. He’s so much fun in this part. He’s just along for this delightful ride, smirking and quipping and practically winking at the camera. He gets that this is a ridiculous game and he’s having a ball playing it. He has a few more intense and emotional scenes which he also nails.
What’s The Plot This Time
A mysterious man who’s face we never see but has a distinctive white cat (Me as we see this, *SQUEEEEEEEEE* BLOFELD!) holds a meeting with two of his operatives and declares that SPECTRE is ready for their next step, further destabilizing the East/West Cold War tensions to rise to power in the chaos that will come. The plan is to sow some seeds of distrust in Istanbul, via a Russian agent defecting, and as a bonus, killing that pesky James Bond, who got the valuable Dr. No killed. The Russian agent chosen is Tatiana Romanova, who reaches out to M, saying she has a decoding machine that MI6 wants, and that she’ll only communicate with 007. Baffled, but very into this mission, once he sees a picture of Tatiana, Bond hops a plane to Istanbul, rendevous with Ali Kerim Bey, and then Tatiana. They get the machine and head towards England (with some fun set pieces along the way) and Bond learns that Tatiana is actually taking orders from Rosa Klebb, and Klebb has defected to SPECTRE. Tatiana still thinks she’s working for Russia and is pretty pissed she was used by the rogue organization so then she defects for real. Klebb is threatened by Blofeld (who we don’t know is Blofeld yet) that he will not tolerate another failure from her.
I’m Addressing The Problematic
Ooookkkaaayyy, let’s get started. So, there is a very racist section of this movie that could be cut entirely without losing much of anything. (Isn’t that always a bummer? I mean, a whole movie being super racist sucks, but when there’s just BOOM 20 MINUTES OF TERRIBLE RACISM it’s so jarring) While in Instanbul, Kerim takes Bond to a Romani camp, (though they use a commonly used slur for folks of Romani cultural background) where they watch a sexy girl dance, and then there’s a fight between two women to win the right to marry the son of the chief. When the Russians (actually SPECTRE) attack the gathering, and Bond protects them the chief says, “SURPRISE, you James Bond are my son now and also those girls, all yours.” It is, unsettling. And then, completely unaddressed.
But again, this is a 20 minute section that you could completely skip over and lose pretty much nothing except some weird racist shit.
Tell Me About The Girl
Tatiana Romanova is played by Daniela Bianchi, and I like her a lot. She’s a loyal Russian intelligence clerk, who is chosen pretty much because of her unfailing loyalty to the state and also she’s super hot, and they want to lure James Bond and having a super hot lady around is a great way to do that. While there’s still a lot of pouting and looking pretty involved, she’s a pretty active (if reactive) character, who’s in control of her own mind and dislikes being used. She does however, enjoy sex with James Bond. (And who wouldn’t, really?) So when she defects for real, they head off to Venice and make out in a Gondola. Is great. I like it a whole lot.
Joe’s Bond Car Corner
I had to do a little more digging to even ask Joe about a car this time, because there’s only one scene with the car. This movie is much more about boats and a train. Anyway, it’s a 1935 Bentley Mark IV, it was what Bond drove in the books and honestly? I kind of forgot to ask Joe about it. Because it isn’t really featured much in the movie at all.
The Song Is The Thing
This is the first time we get a Bond Theme Song, besides the iconic orchestral theme, which does indeed rule super hard. The song “From Russia With Love” is a cool loungey ballad performed by Matt Monro. The song plays diagetically as Bond picnics with sometimes girlfriend Eunice Grayson (who he met in the casino in Dr. No) and then over the end critics. The song seems to be about a world traveler who’s decided to hang up his hat and settled down with his sweetheart. It is pretty good.
I genuinely and really enjoyed this movie and it totally energized me going into the project, which, Dr. No had gotten me a little bit freaked out about. I had an absolute ball watching this movie and can’t wait to move forward, because, if I’m remembering correctly, things just get more campy and fun from here.
Next week, we get into Goldfinger. I don’t remember much about the movie, but the song is good.