****/**** Image A Sound B Extras A-
starring Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendáriz, Lotte Lenya
screenplay by Richard Maibaum, based on the novel by Ian Fleming
directed by Terence Young
by Ian Pugh The first indelible image of From Russia with Love finds steely-eyed, platinum-blond killer Red Grant (Robert Shaw) taking a garrotte to James Bond (Sean Connery), slowly choking the life out of him without witty repartee or a single hope of close-shave escape. The victim turns out to be an impostor, live-target practice for Grant's escapades later in the film--but that momentary shock establishes right from the start that the rules have changed since last we saw 007. Here's a point in time when we weren't completely conditioned to accept Bond as undefeatable, when it wasn't unreasonable to believe that these globetrotting adventures could come to an unfortunate end at any moment. In fact, I wonder if it's reasonable to regard the unpolished Dr. No as mere prologue to From Russia with Love1, with the breezy, romantic life of a Cold War secret agent violently exposed as a lie.