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Friday, May 05, 2006

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE - THE MOVIE 

The movie version of From Russia With Love is not just good, it's great. There was a time when it was my favorite Bond film. I taped Goldfinger off network TV in the late 1970s and I watched it a bunch of times. Goldfinger was my favorite Bond film for a while. But after seeing it so many times, parts of it struck me as being kind of silly.

(I don't remember exactly what I thought was silly. I haven't seen Goldfinger for a really long time. I will probably watch it again in a few weeks, after I've read the novel, and we will see what I think of it after so many years. I have a feeling I'm not going to be able to figure out what I thought was so silly, especially in comparison with some of the more recent Bond films. (Die Another Day, don't try to act all innocent, you know I'm talking about you.))

After I became kind of disillusioned with Goldfinger, I saw From Russia From With Love for the first time, and I was knocked over. It's really good. It's great.

It follows the novel very closely. (One major change: SMERSH is not behind the plot to discredit Bond. SPECTRE is behind it, but they are using former SMERSH operatives to make the Western intelligence organizations think it is SMERSH.) Rosa Klebb, Donovan Grant, Tatiana Romanova and Kerim Bey are all here, as well as Istanbul, the gypsy camp, the Orient Express and the exciting finale where Rosa Klebb tries to stick Bond with her knife-tipped shoes.

They add some stuff to the scene where Bond and Tatiana escape from the Orient Express, with Bond playing North By Northwest with a helicopter, followed a boat chase where Bond blows up a whole fleet of small pursuit boats with a match and some lighter fluid. (Sean Connery IS James Bond.) But From Russia With Love is probably the Bond film that most closely resembles the book. (I'll have to read all the books before I can say that with any real credibility, huh?)

Since that period of my life, I am more likely to name You Only live Twice as my favorite Bond film. But I also really like Thunderball (even if I don't remember it that well). And it hasn't been that long since I saw the last half of Dr. No and thought, "This is a pretty good movie." (And Dr. No should be in the running because of Ursula Andress anyway.)

So I don't know which one is REALLY my favorite. But it definitely has to be one of those first five James Bond films.

And I'm starting to obsess about it a little bit. NOTHING is more important than this question! Which Bond film is the best? I have to know! I have to settle this question for my own peace of mind ... and for the peace of mind of millions of MMC's loyal fans.

So there will be a contest, lasting several months. I am currently reading the novels and then watching the corresponding film as I finish each book. So after I have read You Only Live Twice, I will have seen the five competing films (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice). At this point, the festival will begin, as I watch all the movies over several days and see which emerges as the GREATEST James Bond film of all!

(And of course, I am excluding the 1967 version of Casino Royale from the competition because that is such a totally awesome movie that it wouldn't be fair. (You think I'm being sarcastic, don't you?))

Right now, i'm kind of partial to From Russia With Love or You Only Live Twice. But let the best Bond win!

(Note: I apologizing for not saying more about the actual movie From Russia With Love. I like it a lot. I really can't make fun of it because it's just too awesome. But if you want to find out more about the book and film version of From Russia With Love, check out the Wikipedia entry and the imdb entry.)

NEXT: I have nearly finished Dr. No - the book - and it's another good one. However, I have been taking notes and finding lots of things to make fun of, so I will probably be writing that up within a day or two, and it will be a lot more entertaining than my boring, laudatory comments on From Russia With Love.

Sometimes, even in his best writing, Ian Fleming can be depended on for some unintentionally funny shit.

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