Ranking the Bond Movies: #1 – From Russia with Love (1963)
This was a no-brainer for me. And honestly, the only film this had competition from was Casino Royale and not even Goldfinger. I think this film beats Goldfinger every time. It’s just more compelling. I feel like Goldfinger is the first film to perfect that “formula” that we’d see them repeat with the other Connery films and even the rest of the films of the franchise (for the most part). This film feels like a pleasing middle ground between the newness that is Dr. No and the perfection of the formula that is Goldfinger.
There’s just something about this film that’s perfect to me. I like that the pacing isn’t breakneck. I like that we don’t get many action scenes. I love Robert Shaw. I love almost everything about this movie.
I don’t really have too much to say — if you asked me what I thought the best Bond film was, this would be my answer.
This is the only Bond film without an iris opening. We get our gun barrel, then the iris gets smaller and smaller until the screen becomes entirely black, and then we fade in on our opening.
The cold open begins with Bond sneaking about an estate.
Someone’s following him.
It’s Red Grant. He’s our primary henchman for the movie, but in a way, he’s actually kind of a Bond villain. He’s probably the most prominent henchman in the franchise. We’ll talk about him officially later on. First let’s see what happens to Bond.
And that’s the end of Bond.
… or is it?
“Exactly one minute, fifty-two seconds. That’s excellent.”
This is Walter Gotell, who would later appear in several films as General Gogol. This character is unrelated.
This is some Mission: Impossible shit right here. (Also, how obvious is that mask in the close up before they pull it off?)
It’s not Bond, it’s training for Bond.
Credit sequence. Set to – actually, it’s just set to John Barry’s opening titles for the film. You hear the “From Russia with Love” theme in it, but the actual song isn’t actually played over the titles, the only Bond film to do that. (Technically Dr. No does it too, but that film didn’t have an official “theme song” to it. This one has one and it plays in the film. After this, all the credit sequences would have theme songs.)
Not really. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service also has an instrumental tune that comes back for the movie.
(Mike Note: Well, you know what I mean. The point is that it set the standard.)
All the images here have credits over them, but that’s kind of the point of the credit sequence. It’s actually one of the best of the series. It’s quite inspired.
I love it. Shaking chicks. This also establishes belly dancers as a Bond thing.
We open in Venice.
At a chess championship.
Only one of the players gets a message.
This is the first time we see the SPECTRE octopus. Also pretty cool that they can just get the message to him like that. Just like Quantum, they have people everywhere.
So he checkmates the guy in the next move. That’s badass.
He’s just toying with this guy. He wanted to enjoy himself, but now he has to go. This is another thing I don’t really understand because I’m not up on chess. Would a grand master like this guy’s opponent really miss a move that put him in checkmate? Don’t these guys see that sort of thing? I always imagined that the skill lay in slowly grinding down your opponent to the point where they run out of choices. There are a finite number of pieces that can move a very limited number of places. How weren’t like 10 people in the audience like, “Oh, he could go there and end it now?” I need to learn more about chess.
(Mike Note: Check out Searching for Bobby Fischer. It’s pretty great. Not that it’ll answer your question, it’s just — I’ve moved onto my next set of articles and that’s in them.)
Meanwhile, on a boat…
Oh, you already know who it’s go’n be.
That’s Rosa Klebb. We’ll talk more about her later. Because –
Blofeld! Of course, we don’t know who he is yet, but come on, we already talked about 21 other movies. You know who it is.
This is really our first time meeting Blofeld. I don’t think we really need to talk about him, since we generally talk about each iteration of him as he comes up. In a way, he’s like M and Q and Moneypenny.
Klebb is #3, Kronsteen (chess guy) is #5. Kronsteen plans to steal the Russians’ new electric coding machine.
Klebb has everything all set up to carry out Kronsteen’s plan. They’ve selected a female clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul to carry out the plan, and Kronsteen says it is foolproof, since he knows the British will know it’s a trap, and will treat it as a challenge. He knows how badly they want a decoder machine. He also says that SPECTRE would get the opportunity to avenge Dr. No’s death, since MI6 would almost certainly put James Bond on the case.
He feeds the cat dead fighting fish.
Red’s got himself a masseuse.
And what a masseuse.
Her talent is equal only to her personalities.
But here comes Rosa Klebb. Apparently this place is called SPECTRE island. (I hope they have a theme park.)
She reads Grant’s file: “Donald Grant. Convicted murderer. Escaped Dartmoor prison in 1960. Recruited in Tangier, 1962.”
This is their training area.
Don’t interrupt their kung fu.
We’ve already dispatched the fiendish Dr. No and his kung fu treachery.
He was already at attention.
Goddamn this motherfucker’s a machine.
Red Grant has to be the best henchman in the Bond franchise. This guy is everything you want a henchman to be — indestructible, stealthy, crafty and a skilled fighter. For part of the film, he’s a phantom, only ever seen by us. For the rest of it, he hides in plain sight, socializing with Bond and getting in plenty of good dialogue. Grant is played by Robert Shaw, who has to be one of the best actors ever associated with this franchise. And look at him. Takes brass knuckles to the gut and doesn’t flinch.
He’s not really a villain because he doesn’t formulate plans, he only carries them out. The reason that Klebb can be called a villain is that she has a lot of free reign to do what she wants within the parameters of Kronsteen’s plan and Blofeld’s only demand, which is the Lektor. As baller as Grant is, he’s taking orders. That said, I’d call him the best ever. Ya folla?
Istanbul. I like that they don’t put title cards up and just work it into the preceding dialogue.
When I watched Midnight Express I was shocked at how Istanbul looked. Cause here, it’s pretty nice.
That’s Tatiana Romanova, our Bond girl. We’ll talk about her in a bit. Spread out the character notes.
Let’s talk about Klebb now.
Rosa Klebb is our basic villain in this movie, since she’s the one executing mostly everything and selecting the henchman. Blofeld is sneaky and behind the scenes, and Kronsteen is the guy who comes up plans but has no implementation aspect. Rosa Klebb is a colonel in SMERSH, the Soviet counter-intelligence agency — or she was, but she’s defected to SPECTRE and is using her former position to advance Kronsteen’s plan to get the Lektor encoder for Blofeld.
Klebb is a lot more of a villain in the novel — in fact, in the book she even poisons Bond with her shoe blade, and Ian Fleming ended the book with him unconscious, intending to kill off the character. If Fleming hadn’t changed his mind and written Dr. No, which explains how Bond survived, Rosa Klebb would have been the villain to finally kill 007.
She’s also a total lesbian in the book, compared to whatever she is in the film. There’s a more intense version of the scene that’s about to happen between Rosa and Tanya, involving a pink negligee. It’s also worth mentioning that her name was a play on the Russian slogan for women’s rights, “khleb i rozy,” or “bread and roses.” I enjoy her prickly demeanor and her loud voice. She’s a goblin of a woman, and a very good villain. Believable, devious, even deadly.
(Mike Note: Academy Award nominee Lotte Lenya. This is my car trivia.)
What I love about this scene is how Cold War it is. Nobody knows who to trust, and all they have to go on are their ideologies. Tatiana is Russian and believes in her country. She works for a government office, which could very easily be compromised. She gets a letter from a relatively high-ranking military officer who tells her to come to an address, alone, and to not tell anyone at her office. Now, the officer has already defected, but the government doesn’t tell anyone about this and are keeping it top secret. So the officer has the ability to pretend to be an officer to pretty much everyone except the absolute upper echelon of Russian officials. Especially to people like Tatiana, who don’t really encounter people this high up and would want to look good in front of them. Now, even if Tatiana suspected something was up, who can she tell? For all she knows, Klebb could be telling her that there’s a defector in her office. If she told the wrong person, people could end up dead, including herself. It’s a fascinating time period, the Cold War. Since everyone is keeping secrets from everyone, and you can’t really know who to trust, even when you can.
Christ, I miss the Cold War. This makes sense, and it makes Klebb perfectly plausible. Also, look at the set. A desk that looks like more of a table placed in the middle of a cavernous room with bare walls made of some taupe material. What few embellishments we have are colored red, for the most part. This is the precursor for General Gogol’s offices that turn up in later films.
So Klebb goes through her dossier, which knows everything about her down to how many lovers she’s had. Originally Tatiana is disgusted by the question, but then responds –
“I was in love.”
I think I am too. Damn girl.
Klebb has selected her for a “most important assignment.” (No, not that.)
It’s to give false information to “the enemy,” and to do everything “he” says. “He” being the man in the picture. And if she refuses, then she won’t leave the room alive.
Well of course she’s gonna fucking do it.
Look at that shirt. It’s working for me. Or the way it’s stretched is working for me.
(Mike Note: After this movie, she wouldn’t be wearing a bra underneath.)
Jury’s still out on Klebb’s sexuality, right?
Klebb is set up as a lesbian in the film, and Ian Fleming was even more explicit about it. Notice that Walter Gotell goes to take her by the arm when she got out of the helicopter earlier to meet Grant and she gives him the dirtiest look.
(Mike Note: That’s why you gotta be careful who you offend. You never know when they’re gonna become the head of the KGB.)
♫ “From Russia, with love…” ♫
Ah, Bond and Sylvia Trench. Right where they left off.
Martinis on the grass.
Champagne cooling in the river.
And some pussy.
This is 1963, and Bond has a beeper. “Halfway home, and my pager’s still blowin’ up.”
(Mike Note: He’s definitely gonna have to use his AK.)
But he’s gotta make a call first.
This is Bond’s 1935 Bentley 3.5 Litre. In Ian Fleming’s novels, Bond usually drove a Bentley, which is why we have this car. We don’t see all of the car, but it’s pretty cool. It has a car phone, and Bond gets some action in the back of it. I’d say that’s enough to merit a middling spot on the Bond car list, without it even starting its engine.
Moneypenny! She wants to know where he is.
“Well, I’ve just been reviewing an old case.”
“Oh, so I’m an old case now, am I?”
“He is not on his way.”
She wants to fuck. Last time he got a call he was gone for six months.
“I’ll be there in an hour.”
“Make that an hour and a half.”
“All right, this dick ain’t gonna suck itself…”
I love Sylvia. It’s too bad she didn’t ever come back after this.
“For my next miracle…”
Well that’s awkward.
Gotta wonder if Connery was really good at that or if they had to do like 15 takes to get it right.
(Mike Note: How could he miss? I bet they explained it to him the way Harvey Korman helps Mel Brooks get his pen back in the holder in Blazing Saddles — “Think of your secretary.”)
And there’s Q!
Apparently Tatiana has fallen in love with him from his picture.
“It’s some sort of trap.”
“Well obviously it’s a trap, but you’re going anyway.”
M explains that what’s at stake is a Lektor decoding machine, which they’ve wanted to get their hands on for years. Tatiana has one, and will only come if Bond specifically comes to bring her and the machine back to England. (This is very similar to Koskov’s fake defection in The Living Daylights. Only with professional respect instead of the sex angle.)
“This whole thing is complete bullsh—hello there.”
“You know, on second thought, I have nothing going on.”
Reaction shots are the key to comedy.
Then they bring in Q, who gives Bond a briefcase.
Again, I have to say — cause it’s ridiculous to me — Desmond Llewelyn is the same age here that Roger Moore was in The Spy Who Loved Me.
(Mike Note: Maybe that’s why he adopted the “Now pay attention 007…”; dementia.
A throwing knife.
A fold-up sniper rifle.
Fifty gold sovereigns.
This always seems like such an antiquated type of money, but apparently they’re still made. Fifty gold sovereigns is a lot.
(Mike Note: In case of pirate attack.)
And a talcum powder case that releases tear gas. The way to open the case is to turn the catches to the side before opening. If it’s opened normally, the tear gas will come out.
Q is a boss.
And here’s another close up of M, just because it’s so crisp it looks like that portrait of him they have in The World Is Not Enough.
“I’ve never been to Istanbul…”
“You’ve never been to Istanbul? Where the moonlight on the Bosphorus is irresistible…” says Bond, referencing a poem by Victor Hugo. This guy knows how to spit some G.
(Mike Note: The original line was, “You’ve never been to Istanbul? Fucked so many bitches there.”)
“Maybe I should get you to take me there some day…”
“I’ve tried everything else.”
“Darling Moneypenny, you know I’d never look at another woman.”
“Let me tell you the secret of the world…”
What a fantastic line. Cause it sounds baller and romantic at the same time, but it’s totally about his dick.
(Mike Note: He calls his penis “The World.” “I can show you The World…” “I’ve got the whole World in my hands…”)
Oh, but there’s M, interrupting. He wants Bond to leave the photo of Tatiana behind.
“I’m sure he’ll recognize the lady when he sees her.”
Seriously, bring back rear projection. I wouldn’t mind at all.
Just like in Dr. No, another shot of guys in a control tower as the plane lands. We’re being reminded time and again that Bond is a classy guy who flies to exotic places in shiny jets.
Anyway, in Istanbul…
Kerim Bey sent a car for him.
Suspicious person watching him.
That joke stung.
Nice looking car.
It’s a Rolls Royce, of course. A 1958 Silver Wraith, one of the all time greats.
The driver knows all about the tail. He even knows the plate number. They’re Bulgarians working for the Russians. Which is great, since there are two tails on him.
Good thing he doesn’t have a Fire Stone, cause nine tails would be chaos.
(Mike Note: I have a problem. Nasty plot.)
He’s already forgotten about Tatiana.
We’re getting important character development about Kerim Bey before we even see him. The man fucks bitches.
That’s Kerim Bey. He’s pretty cool. (How could he not be? He just fucked that chick in his office.)
He reminds me of Thomas Mitchell.
Ali Kerim Bey is an all time non-recurring Bond ally for me. We only get him in one film, but he makes a lasting impression. For one, he fucks bitches — this we already know. He runs MI6’s Station T in Istanbul, and his whole operation is comprised of his sons. We don’t know how many there are, but they keep showing up everywhere (cause he fucks bitches). We find out that Kerim started out in the circus bending bars with his teeth (eat your heart out, Jaws. Wow… Jaws actually could eat your heart out) and was recruited by MI6 to infiltrate the Soviet Union. Now, he’s got the biggest family payroll in Turkey and even uses local gypsies as agents and muscle.
My favorite thing about Kerim is how he enjoys the finer things in life and tries to get Bond to just chill out. His relationship with the Russians is the epitome of detente, but even after things heat up, he makes time for booze, boating, and setting Bond up with gypsy girls. The ease with which he spies on the Russians is also refreshing. I was sorry he had to go away, but I guess it made sense.
This is also probably the saddest actor story. Pedro Armendariz, who played Kerim, found out during the filming of this movie that he had advanced cancer and wouldn’t live for long. He finished filming so his family would receive his salary, and when his scenes were done, he committed suicide by shooting himself. He was dead nearly four months before the film premiered.
(Mike Note: I mention this in the trivia too. He died from the same movie that killed John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Dick Powell.)
Tail 2 has taken over Tail 1.
They all want the dick.
Man knows how to treat the staff.
I love that he doesn’t speak at all until much later.
You have no idea how he’s going to sound or act until so far into the movie, you spend this whole time projecting your imagination onto him.
(Mike Note: That’s dangerous in the wrong hands. Kumbaya…)
She want the dick.
But not Bond’s. Well, maybe Bond’s too, if it was offered.
(Mike Note: Well, in Goldfinger…)
He don’t care, he’s doing his crossword.
She really want the dick.
“Bitch, I told you don’t talk to me when I’m doing my crossword or else what’s five down and six across is gonna be my hand across yo goddamn face..”
“Fine, you may fuck me now.”
This is why Kerim Bey is a boss.
The actual exchange is so classic. She’s like, “You’re not happy to see me today?” and he growls at her. “Overjoyed.” And then when he finally gives up and goes to fuck her, he makes this face of defeat and sighs, “Back to the salt mines.” You’re like 60, and you have a chick like THAT looking for some sex, and you compare this to working in a salt mine? You’re my hero.
A ha. Now she doesn’t get the dick.
Bond shows up and asked what happened. Kerim Bey explains it to him and says his chick left in hysterics.
“Found your technique too violent?”
Motherfucker has doors behind carpets everywhere.
Oh yeah. Phantom of the op-er-a.
With a little Third Man thrown in. Now there’s a way to get me on board with a film.
They’re underneath the Russian consulate.
We’ve got a periscope provided by the Royal Navy.
An assassin named Krilencu is there.
But who cares, Tatiana is there.
This is Bond looking through the periscope, saying that from this angle, things are shaping up nicely. “Re-verify our range to target. One ping only.”
(Mike Note: Please. This is Bond. There’ll be another ping in the morning.)
Kerim Bey doesn’t like that Krilencu is there, so he tells Bond he shouldn’t sleep at the hotel.
He takes Bond to his gypsy friends.
Only someone’s informing.
Krilencu knows. They’re suiting up for a raid right now.
They came on the wrong night. Two gypsy girls have fallen in love with the same man.
“Oh really, now?”
This is what’s known as tremendous restraint, as I only show one screenshot instead of fifteen.
All right, two.
Just imagine the kind of shit she can do with her pelvis.
The raid is coming.
I love how he just waits and bides his time. This is a master assassin.
Oh, but it’s time for the main event.
“Yes, I think I got it without the subtitles.”
Oh, let’s do this.
Can a person be more riveted than he is right now?
No. No they cannot.
That’s the chick that’s gonna play Paula in Thunderball in two years. I’d recognize those boobies anywhere.
Good spot. Yup, she got a speaking part the second time around.
Like the hook of my favorite hood rat song, “Hit That Bitch With a Bottle.” — “I don’t fight. I don’t argue. I just hit that bit wit a bottle.”
(Mike Note: It’s great to have things like that you can just drop into conversation. “My favorite hood rat song.” And then they’re like, “You have a favorite hood rat song?” And then you have a few more saved up you can just rattle off, like, “You don’t have a lucky crack pipe?”)
That man jumping is the biggest badass in this camp.
Motherfucker doesn’t even get up to kill motherfuckers. That’s a real motherfucker, right there.
AND HE FLIPS TABLES.
“Where the FUCK did that come from?”
Damn, Kerim Bey fell in some ketchup. That’s the end of that suit.
At least it’s not dysentery, right?
He wants to kill Bond himself. That’s always the fatal flaw of these assassins. If someone else is gonna do the job, let them do it.
No, he needs Bond. It’s all part of Kronsteen’s plan, they get Bond to get the Lektor and THEN kill him and take it.
(Mike Note: I know, it’s just — they all do it. And if it’s not Bond, it’s other movies. It’s just one of those things that pisses me off. I’m just so used to seeing it happen without a legitimate reason that I just respond that way on instinct.)
Anyway, everything’s safe. Now let’s drink.
Bond knows what’s important.
Bond saved the chief’s life, so now he’s his son.
He gets to fuck both of them.
It’s magic, man.
And he’s already forgotten them.
Hey. This 1960 Ford Ranch Wagon was a two door earlier. There must have been two cars. Continuity issue.
(Mike Note: Maybe the valet fucked up.)
Time to kill Krilencu.
But Kerim Bey’s arm is in a sling, so Bond’ll do it.
Nah, Kerim Bey’ll do it. Fuck the sling.
The movie poster is for “Call Me Bwana” with Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg — the only film ever made by Eon that wasn’t a James Bond film. Little self promotion here. Most of the crew for the film had worked together on Dr. No.
Bye bye, Krilencu. (That’ll save us the trouble of talking about him.)
Time for a final round of Assassination Attempt or Sex.
The patio’s open. Dead giveaway.
… or is it?
Well, hello. (Why do I feel like the answer is almost always sex?)
Wow, she looks properly naked here.
(Mike Note: And God bless her, too.)
You think he’s gonna realize he left the tub on?
Now let’s talk about Tatiana.
Look at this one. Mm. You mean to tell me this girl doesn’t have a man? All that jelly and no toast. This is Tatiana Romanova, or Tanya, and she’s our first Russian Bond girl. Other than coming pretty close to the top of my list for hotness, Tanya is a decent character. She’s 21 years old and works as a cipher clerk for Soviet Intelligence in Istanbul. As we know, Klebb selected her to seduce James Bond and help him get the Lektor encoder. We meet her here, in bed, getting down to business. The little exposition we get about her is that she was training for the ballet, but grew an inch too tall, and that she’s had three boyfriends.
For most of the film, she acts as a loyal Soviet intelligence agent, unaware that Klebb has defected. Eventually, she’ll have to choose who and what she believes, and we can probably guess how that goes. Daniela Bianchi, being Italian, had to be dubbed over for a Russian accent, which is this character’s only drawback. At this point in the franchise, Bond girls don’t participate in action, but they can move plot along, which is what Tanya does. She looks pretty fine doing it, too. Her experience should also be a lesson to all the ladies out there — watch your drinks.
Here’s a weird moment where she feels his lower back and finds the scar that Sylvia noticed at the beginning of the film. Tanya’s been studying his file and knows “everything” about him, which would be creepy if she weren’t so hot. Creepiness and hotness rarely go together.
(Mike Note: It fits her cover, though.)
This is why the first thirty minutes of Die Another Day are so good. They show Bond learning from this experience.
So Tatiana goes to meet Bond with the plans of the Russian consulate he asked for.
Only someone is following her.
Damn, she looks good.
Oh yeah. I’m a gentleman that doesn’t usually prefer blondes, but this one’s working for me.
I love this scene. He’s watching her, Bond’s watching him –
And Red Grant’s watching them all.
Bond looks over the plans Tatiana gave him, but Kerim Bey thinks it’s all too easy.
Oh, she looks so good.
We clearly agree on this one.
She’s nervous that someone will see her with him.
He wants to know about the machine.
They fixed one close up but not the other. (I approve of their choice.)
Remind me again, Mike, what kind of projection do you like?
(Mike Note: See, it’s funny, but everyone who reads these articles and sees rear projection after this is gonna go, “Oh, Mike’ll love that.”)
He records her description of it.
She keeps talking about how badly she wants to fuck him.
And boss that he is, he keeps telling her to get back to the machine. “James, will you make love to me when we get to England?” “Day and night. Go on about the machine.”
Everyone is listening.
“Am I as interesting as all those western girls?”
“Well, once when I was with M in Tokyo, we had an interesting experience…”
Yes! People have interesting experiences in Tokyo. I’ve had one or two myself.
(Mike Note: Nowadays, if this were a comedy, he’d try to turn it off and you’d hear bits and pieces of the rest of the story. Like, “You can go, Miss Moneypenny,” “…she didn’t have any teeth!”, “Where’s the damn button?”, “…looked like Jack Elam!”)
“Uhh — uhh… Moneypenny, you can leave now.”
And of course she just goes back to listen in her office.
“Miss Moneypenny – as you’re no doubt listening, perhaps you’d take this cable…”
M says it’s legitimate. Go ahead with the sale.
I only just now realized that I’ve just been watching the movie and have barely been writing a synopsis. But honestly, the pictures speak for themselves. That’s the sign of a good movie.
Bond goes there to get the Lektor.
Kerim Bey gets ready to fuck some shit up.
I love that look.
This is after he asks the guy at the desk if the clock is correct, twice. And the Russian guy is all snooty, “Russian clocks are ALWAYS correct!” This is Bond’s face that says, “Just checking, thought my bomb would’ve gone off by n– oh, there it is.”
“Here, take this, it’s only tear gas.” (aka “I eat tear gas for brunch.”)
Russian places always do seem to look like this, don’t they?
This was some genius on Bond’s part. He told Tanya it’d be the next day, so even she wasn’t expecting it. He’s thinking ahead cause he knows shit it up.
(Mike Note: You never see Bond do this stuff anymore. You never see him be clever like this. They always just cut to the action sequence. I like when we see him setting up his room for intruders and pulling shit like this. That’s why this is my #1 and not Casino Royale, as much as I love it.)
Kerim Bey has a lot of sons. Man don’t wear no hats.
Let’s get the fuck out of town.
I love how he just pops up from time to time, is never really missed, and is always a menacing figure by just being there. You know it’s a good character when, by just showing that he’s in the vicinity, it says more about his character than if he actually did shit.
Kerim Bey gives Bond and Tatiana their cover, which is great. We’re still in an era where we can pretend a cover will do something.
“You stay here. I’ll come back and fuck you later.”
“But I want to fuck now.”
Oh he’s prepared.
I guess that is a big deal when all you’re used to is burlap.
If I went to Hogwarts, that’s all I’d be doing on the way up to school.
And the food cart shows up. “Pumpkin Pasties or Licorice Wands? I dunno, I’ll ask. Baby, you need any Pumpkin Pasties or Licorice Wands? Nah, she good, she got hers.”
(Mike Note: “Your Dumbledore card keeps looking at me and winking.” “Nah, baby he’s looking at me. Just ignore him. He goes away after a while.”)
Way to be inconspicuous, buddy.
I love Kerim Bey. IDs the dude, goes right to his cabin, tells Bond he’ll keep him occupied long enough for Bond to get off the train.
“I’ve led a very interesting life. Would you like to hear about it? … You would? Well…”
He’s getting closer. (I would link to a clip of the Jaws theme, but that felt like it would be a mean thing to do.)
What else was she hired for?
Oh, right. That.
All right, comrades.
“Didn’t we have something important to do?”
He’s arranged for them to have tea. She doesn’t want to.
“Listen, just do as I say, will you?”
That means good job in sexual harassment.
As I said during Goldfinger, the ass slap was a glorious institution that is now relegated to football.
(Mike Note: Let’s take it back.)
At least she’s not trying to pretend like she’s not okay with it.
But wait – something’s happened.
Why must all the great allies be killed?
The train was supposed to stop there.
I can’t tell if he’s upset or wants to fuck.
Neither. He’s suspicious.
Doing things the Connery way.
She says they didn’t tell her anything and that she didn’t know what was going to happen.
So he tries the magic dick approach.
She says she loves him (like four times).
“Oh dear god what have I done to deserve this?”
Something good. This one’s a keeper.
Finally, they reach a station.
But Grant is still there.
Just like the opening.
This is some sneaky stuff. Grant following Bond at only those moments when he’s not looking. This is like the horror flick when the main character’s just chilling and the bad guy is in plain sight in the back of the shot and you’re freaking out.
Bond tells one of Kerim Bey’s sons that Kerim is dead. He tells him to send a message to M to have someone meet him at the next stop.
Grant gets to Bond’s contact first.
I love that we still don’t hear him talk. That’s screen presence.
There we go. His first words: “Nash. Captain Nash.”
The great thing about that is that is shows that Grant has studied all up on Bond and knows him. Look at Bond’s face, it’s like Grant is using his phrase against him, but is trying to be cordial because this guy is supposedly helping him. It’s the little things.
How tense is this scene? Bond brings him to the last place he should be.
He says he can get Bond over the border. But first he wants to have a bite to eat. (That’s a dangerous motherfucker. A guy who sits down to eat like that.)
“Caroline, you go to the restaurant car with Captain Nash and I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”
“Whatever you say, old man.”
This is so great. Connery is making all the wrong choices, and yet, it’s making the film so much better.
Look at that face – he knows how easy this is being made for him.
Seems like Bond doesn’t fully trust him. But then he puts the gun away. I love how they play this sequence.
I like how smart she is. Doesn’t talk because of the accent. That’s a true Bond girl.
Grant orders Chianti. “The red kind.”
Bond knows something. (Red wine and fish don’t go together.)
So now Bond knows Grant isn’t who he says he is (though unless you know Bond well, you don’t even know that), and Grant is still planning on killing Bond, and here they are, having a meal. And the girl knows nothing. Perfection.
Grant drugs her drink.
“There’s something wrong with yo bitch.”
He’s so great, Robert Shaw.
“What was it? The stuff you put in her drink?”
Oh yeah, it’s on now. All pretenses are off.
This is what Grant’s been waiting for all his motherfuckin’ life.
Though Grant pretends like he needed to do it since he’s only supposed to get Bond out of there, not Tatiana.
Wouldn’t be Bond if he didn’t get knocked unconscious.
This could all be over right now if it weren’t for that fatal villain flaw.
I like that they let him use his own voice. So often are all the characters dubbed in these early ones. They just let Shaw be Shaw.
Bond assumes he’s working for SMERSH.
Grant don’t know nothing about SMERSH.
“Of course… SPECTRE.”
Robert Shaw disapproves.
Shaw also explains the entire plot, even that Tatiana doesn’t work for SPECTRE and is being played as a pawn and that Klebb works for SPECTRE. Though here it comes off more as professional courtesy, which I guess makes it implied in all the subsequent films.
I think a lot of it is gratification for all the badassery he’s done in this film. He’s been silent and setting it up so meticulously, he wants Bond to know.
“Oh yeah – we also taped you two fucking.”
Grant also slaps the shit out of Bond.
How many people have done that (not Bond girls)?
“The first one won’t kill you. Nor the second. Not even the third. Not til you crawl over here and you kiss my foot.”
Bond wants a cigarette. He says he’ll pay for it with the fifty gold sovereigns in his case.
“Any more in the other one?”
“Nah, nah, I’ll do it.”
And that’s the end of Red Grant.
Just goes to show — a flunky and a mask does not make for an accurate Bond stand-in for training purposes.
(Mike Note: Tatiana agrees.)
So they get off and commandeer the vehicle sent for Grant.
Yes… poppies will make them sleep.
The next morning –
It’s a thrilling chase. The helicopter tries to run him over from the air. You’d think that would be dumb, but it’s actually better than if they were shooting at him.
It feels like North by Northwest, which is never a bad thing. Which — Sam Mendes said that his primary inspiration for Skyfall came from From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, and that he feels the franchise is at least partially derived from the whole North by Northwest tone.
Rear projection. My favorite.
“I’d say one of their aircraft is missing.” (How many people are gonna get that reference?)
Oh look, a boat.
Great boat. It’s a Fairey Huntress, and it’s sweet.
“Just isn’t your day, is it?”
That poor Thai kid.
(Mike Note: The word ‘poor’ is a double entendre.)
They’re off to Venice.
Blofeld isn’t happy.
“So the plan was foolproof, huh, motherfucker?”
“You see, what had happened was… she did it!”
This is the first time this happens. There are two people who have disappointed the villain and a henchman kills the one you don’t expect without any signal from the villain. How does Walter Gotell know?
He sends Klebb to kill Bond.
Look at her! She looks amazing.
Who’s preoccupied with that. (As he should be.)
Wouldn’t they just…you know…explode?
Michael Bay would’ve done this scene with planes taking off at sunset.
Connery always got the best hotel rooms.