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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

From Russia With Love (1963)  

Review: written 2006

Classic Bond movie, from the golden era

The second in the Bond movie canon, and a satisfying balance is achieved in this, Sean Connery's favourite of the series. In contrast to later outings, the plot is satisfyingly spy-like, with decoding machines, double crosses and foreign venues...


It was Albert “Cubby” Brocolli who had the most interest and in 1958 approached his partner in his production company at the time.. however he retorted that the books were not even good enough for TV. The rights (or “options” in movie business speak) were therefore acquired by Harry Saltzman. These two eventually met, and agreed to become partners, and formed two companies – one (DANJAQ, after their wives first names, Dana and Jacqueline) to keep the rights to the movies, and the other EON (standing for “Everything or Nothing”) to be the production company to make the movies. The books available at the time were reviewed, and Dr No picked as the book which could most easily convert to a screenplay. The screenwriters were Wolf Mankiewiz and Richard Maibaum, who would be associated with Bond for some time. Indeed, the family of filmmakers brought together to work with EON really did stay with Bond, as Cubby had a loyal streak.. even to this day sons and daughters of the original crew on Dr No are still working on Bond movies.


Apart from Connery himself, it was the director who was the inspired choice. Terence Young brought the style and panache to Bond. He himself lived the live, making sure only champagne was drunk on set, and imparting his knowledge on all things sartorial to Sean Connery. He had the best tailors put together his wardrobe, and explained to Connery how the suits could be treated with disdain, and they would still look good. Young would make a movie, spend the money on fine living, then go back to work again.. he really created a huge amount of what we now think of as Bond.

For the lead role, Cary Grant and Roger Moore were considered, but the role would go to relative unknown Connery, who won over the studio execs largely on the way he moved and his manner. It was felt he could convey the right mixture of ruthlessness combined with a degree of sexual magnetism. The rest of the cast were filled out, including the role of the orphaned seashell collector, Honey Ryder, who was hired on the basis of a photograph. Her heavily accented voice was later dubbed. Ian Fleming came to the set and was so smitten by her he namechecked her in his next novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.





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