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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> November 1999 >> From Russia with Love

From Russia with Love

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
3 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
November 1999
IMDB Name:
From Russia with Love (1963)
Terence Young
action, james-bond
MPAA Rating:
Unrated (predates MPAA ratings)


I'm not sure what to think about some of the early entries in the Bond canon. The pacing is often slow, blending in a little more travelogue than is necessarily called for. The villains are less than exceptional, lacking some of the oomph of greats like Auric Goldfinger. The gadgets, plausible though they might be, are hardly worthy of the word. The action sequences also tend to be disappointing. Of course, it is an instance of the dreaded historic fallacy if I complain that 1963's From Russia with Love can't compare for action with later entries like 1979's Moonraker and 1995's Goldeneye. On the bright side, the earlier films feature Sean Connery, thought by many to be the definitive Bond. I actually like Pierce Brosnan a little better, but that's just me.

I think my favorite aspect of From Russia with Love is the plot. SPECTRE's labyrinthine scheme to pit world powers against each other with several unwitting participants is brilliant. If this had been directed by Hitchcock, I think the Lektor would have gained more mystery as a proper MacGuffin, something which serves as a desired object, even though its identity is never made clear to the audience. Tatiana's description of it wouldn't have to be changed at all to add even more intrigue as the audience speculates what it is.

Austin Fodder

Austin Powers served, somewhat ironically, as my primary introduction to the Bond genre. Since then, I've been going back to find out how many jokes I missed for not having seen things in the proper order. From Russia introduces the white cat as Blofeld's pet. Blofeld is, of course, the primary inspiration for Dr. Evil. When I saw Lotte Lenya's name in the opening credits, I was fairly sure I knew her from her connection to Kurt Weill. When Rosa Klebb first appeared, I recognized her from somewhere. I am amused to realize that it's not her that I recognize. I got her mixed up with Mindy Sterling, who played Frau Farbissina in the Austin series.

DVD Comments

Overall, the From Russia with Love DVD is a mostly competent effort. It provides thirty ways to watch the movie if you multiply two aspect ratios by three spoken languages by five subtitle options. The audio and subtitles are available in French, Spanish, and English. The nomenclature in the subtitle menu differentiates between English subtitles and English captions. As best as I can determine, the difference is slight. The subtitles make no note of background noise, but the captions do. It's possible to change the subtitles while the disc is playing, but changing audio languages requires going through the menus to provide different on-screen translations for the few lines of Russian dialogue. The trailer is only in English, but if the audio language is set otherwise, a quick message in that language advises the viewer that the trailer is only in English. I was disappointed that the transfer of the trailer is cropped rather poorly, often resulting in text that spills off the edges of the screen.

As with the DVD issues of other early Bond films, there is a "Declassified" section, which includes a short clip of the gadgets, cars, women, and enemies in the film. Since this is just quick access to certain parts of the film, it's never anything revealing. There are also a few screens of text which mostly discuss Ian Fleming and the novels on which the Bond series is based. There is a Villain Montage which includes extremely quick cuts among the various henchmen from the series accompanied by the famous theme song. The montage can be viewed with or without subtitles revealing the identities of the films from which the scenes originate.

See the IMDB information on From Russia with Love's DVD.

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Copyright 1999-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.