From Russia With Love (1963)
The second Bond film, again directed by Terrence Young, sends 007 to Istanbul to track down a Russian LEKTOR decoding device (aided by a young Russian cipher clerk, played by former Miss Universe contestant Daniela Bianchi). Connery, as always, is more than up for the task at hand, and he shows his suave side here more than in Dr. No. The actor has also stated publicly that this was his favorite film in the series. Without a doubt this is one of the most entertaining Bond movies ever made, largely thanks to engaging evil villain performances by both Lotte Lenya as the masochistic Rosa Klebb, and the inimitable Robert Shaw as the killer Donald "Red" Grant, whose current assignment is to retrieve the decoder and eliminate Bond. Shaw and Connery have a high-octane fight scene aboard the Orient Express (largely doing their own stunts), and exchange choice banter throughout:
James Bond: Red wine with fish. Well, that should have told me something.
Red Grant: You may know the right wines, but you're the one on your knees. How does it feel, old man?
We are treated to the first real Bond gadget-a fully loaded attaché case, complete with a trick lock that releases a spring-loaded dagger. This was also the initial introduction of Desmond Llewelyn as Q, the head gadget-dispenser for the British Secret Service (who occupied the role for a record sixteen more Bond films until his death in 1999). Three former beauty pageant contestants have parts in this film, including Bianchi as Tatiana, as well as Martine Beswick and Aliza Gur as the two gypsy girls involved in a catfight over a man. The helicopter scene in this film was inspired by Hitchcock's famous crop duster airplane scene in North by Northwest. At one point during filming, a helicopter blade came close enough to almost kill Connery.
Most Memorable Scene: Rosa Klebb steps up behind Shaw's Red Grant as he stands at attention and lands a fist of brass knuckles right into his rib cage, just to see if he's in good shape.
The Bond series continued to hit its stride with the release of Goldfinger, directed by Guy Hamilton, who would go on to direct three more in the series (Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun). Critic Roger Ebert wrote that this was the best of the Bond films, and many other reviewers also agree that this film has become the true blueprint for every Bond film made since (although it could be argued that Thunderball has really become the more accurate model-for better and for worse).
The story starts out with great promise, and nearly pulls it off, except for dragging markedly after the climax. Connery's Bond is pitted against one of the most believable bad guys in cinema history, Auric Goldfinger (played by German actor Gert Frobe, whose voice had to be dubbed due to his heavy accent). AFI later chose Goldfinger as one of the top fifty movie villains of all time (he ranked in at number forty-nine). Incidentally, his name came from one of Fleming's next-door neighbors in Hampstead, an architect named Erno Goldfinger whose design style annoyed Fleming. When the real Goldfinger contested the use of his name, Fleming allegedly joked that he would change the name to "Goldprick" instead. They settled out of court.
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