James Bond in Review: From Russia With Love Part II

Bond’s “reviewing” an “Old case”-Sylvia Trench, last seen in Doctor No. Unless you count the numerous references to Tracey and later, Vesper in later films, she’s the only Bond girl who isn’t an MI6 regular like Judi Dench’s M or Moneypenny to appear in multiple films (Maud Adams and Martine Beswick-as well as Nadja later int this article don’t really count as she was playing two different characters). She’s a minor character but it’s a nice touch of continuity between the two films. She was intended to appear in “Goldfinger” and later films as a sort of running joke, but after this scene she was dropped completely. Along with SPECTRE and a reference to Jamacia in this scene, it helps give a sense of continuity between this and Dr.No. Gradually, as rights to SPECTRE faded, the Bond films became more self-contained, with only the Craig films starting to reintroduce more of an ongoing storyline (Even “Skyfall” was worked into that storyline, although with a bit of a stretch, in SPECTRE).

 

 

Bond gets a call from “Univex” (Universal Exports, the fake name for MI6) from Moneypenny, and gets called into the “office”. Here’s where we see another Bond first; Desmond Llewynn as Q. Although technically his character first appeared in “Dr.No”, this is the first time Desmond’s playing the part, and he introduces Bond to his first real gadget-the attache case! It should be noted the first scene between the two is pretty informal, without any of Bond’s jokes or Q’s annoyance.

It’s got a hidden knife, 50 gold sovereigns (for bribery) ammo, a talcum powder container which actually has tear gas (which will explode if the case is opened incorrectly), and a folding sniper rifle. While not as “cool” or as “Funny” as some other gadgets like say, the laser watch or the various cars, it’s certainly one of the more practical and realistic ones. The case possibly survives to “Goldfinger”, where a case is destroyed when tampering, as revealed in dialogue. It’s not made clear if this is the same case. Of course, this one does come in quite handy later in the film.

 

The rest of Bond’s briefing deals with Tatayna’s request to defect, simply because she kind of likes the way Bond looks in his file photo. This is actually a fairly friendly conversation between Bond and M compared to many of the others throughout the series, where Bond is often either defiant, or M is strict, or both. They both agree that this LEKTOR could be a bait for some trap, but it’s worth the risk to get one-and so Bond is sent to Turkey, to the tune of his theme set to bongos-one of the coolest arrangements of the theme I’ve heard. He also gets some info on Eastern/Western relations in the city; they’re fairly peaceful.

He we meet Kerim Bey, who runs the local branch (Station “T”) of MI6. He’s a pretty cool character, whose staff is pretty much composed of his many sons. Bey is pretty much the prototype for a lot of (non-Felix) Bond allies;  the film versions of Mathis, Columbo, Draco etc. owe a bit to Bey, as do movie-exclusive characters like Tibbet, Raoul and Valentine.

Pedro Armendáriz, who plays Bey, unfortunately had his last film role here, as he had contracted cancer (possibly due to filming the conquerors, the John Wayne Genghis Khan film which was filmed on a nuclear test site!) and he was actually very ill when filming from Russia With Love, and committed suicide before the film was released (Some of his scenes were filmed with doubles). It’s a testament to his acting that he was able to work so well with such pain.

Pedro’s son, Pedro Armendariz Jr. appears as President Lopez in Licence to Kill, as a president being bribed and threatened to cover up to  give immunity to the villain, Sanchez.  Another “Son” in the family business, one could say.

The next scene we pretty much get Bond searching his hotel room for bugs, with the Bond theme (Bongoless version, presumabely used from Dr.No) kind of going on and on. While the Bond theme works for Bond’s swagger, or in many action scenes, here it’s kind of out of place with Bond tipping room service, unpacking his luggage and checking the room for bugs. It seems a bit goofy. Bond rejects the room anyway-the bed’s too small, and he gets the Bridal suite.

Meanwhile, Grant and Klebb are causing mischief behind the scenes, heating up the cold war by taking out a Russian agent and framing the British-which in turns leads to a retaliation-Kerim is hanging around with a lady friend of his when a limpet mine ignites.

The actress playing her is Nadja Regin, who would later appear as the belly dancer at the start of “Goldfinger” who sets Bond up for a kill, but leads to the hitman’s “shocking” death instead.

Both Bond and Kerim are a bit puzzled at the sudden breaking of the truce,  Bond and Kerim do a little bit of spywork-via an underground periscope that looks directly into the office of the Russian embassy. Here they learn that the likely culprit of the mine job was Krilenko, a Bulgarian and rival of Kerim’s. Krilenko is also very similar to the last name of future Bond girl actress Olga (In Quantum of Solace, she plays Camille).

Bond then heads out of the city with Bey to visit a Gypsy camp. However, they’re being shadowed by Grant. Bond has some dinner, enjoys some bellydancing, but then can only witness a fued between two women, one of whom is played by Martine Beswick, who would later play Bond’s Nassau contact Paula in Thunderball (This fight was also used heavily in publicity for the movie, including the poster). Martine’s gypsy is about to deliver what looks like a killing blow when the camp is suddenly attacked.

Speaking of things which will also appear in Thunderball, it’s here we’re given the first instance of the “007” theme, a theme that’s used for action in a few of the early films, most notably in several instances in “Thunderball”. It’s a booming, fast-paced piece, although a little more dated-sounding than the more timeless Bond theme. It was officially retired after “Moonraker” where it made a sort of surprise reappearence after nearly a decade. It also seems to have heavily inspired the music of the anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion”-the track “Decisive Battle” is very similar too it.

The scene is fun, and a little chaotic, as Bond saves some of the gypsies from Krulenko and his men-and is saved himself, by an unseen Grant, who wouldn’t want Bond to get killed before SPECTRE’s plan reaches fruition. Kerim is unfortunately wounded;Eventually, Krulenco and co retreat, and Bond has earned the gypsy’s respect-and is allowed to umm….”settle” the girl fight.

 

The two then decide to settle the score for Krulenko, by finding his hideout and taking him out. The movie poster in front is for “Call me Bwana” which was also produced by EON productions, so it’s a bit of cross-advertisement here that’s kind of funny. I wonder why they didn’t do something similar for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Which had it’s share of Bond names in the cast and crew, and of course was based on one of Fleming’s non-Bond works). As for the movie itself, I’ve heard it’s not that great, and this is perhaps it’s only real lasting legacy.

Krilenko’s ill-fated escape is through the mouth of Anita Ekberg’s poster likeness-Bey fires the killing shot (using Bond’s shoulder as a brace), and Bond quips “She should’ve kept her mouth shut!”

Next, Bond and Tatayna meet at last, and SPECTRE’s counterintelligence plot begins to take more shape as Grant continues to shadow Bond-and leave a trail of corpses on both sides.

 

 

 

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