Tuesday, 27 November 2012

From Russia With Love

For anyone not yet fifty – I doubt you can fully imagine the thrill of a new Bond movie. There are now fifty films in the franchise, the latest being Skyfall (in case you didn’t notice the hype) and I can imagine that the first films might seem like museum pieces to youngsters today. But when I was a teenager the films were quite simply thrilling! And so were the books. 

The first Bond film I saw was From Russia With Love. It was the second film made and it starred Sean Connery. The story centres on a plot by SMERSH the Soviet counter-intelligence agency, to assassinate Bond in such a way as to discredit both him and British Intelligence. As bait for the plot, the Russians use a beautiful cipher clerk and the Spektor, a Soviet decoding machine. Much of the action takes place in Istanbul and on the Orient Express.
The film was released in 1963 and I was fifteen. I saw it with my best friend and his girlfriend, and a girl who wanted to be my girlfriend. But, as I remember it, I wasn’t very keen. It had been snowing and it was cold. I remember wearing my new coat. And I remember the intoxicating smell of the cavernous, art deco Odeon cinema. The film was exciting, moody and, with its seduction scene, quite sexy to a fifteen year old. Innovative too – with its MI5 gadgets. It had all the ingredients for future Bond films.

I loved the books too. From Russia With Love is probably still my favourite. It was the fifth in the series, published in 1957. I can’t remember if it was the first I read – nor if I read it before I saw the film or after. I do remember reading (or re-reading) the whole series when I should have been studying for my exams. Ian Fleming was a very good writer, with pace and an eye for detail.  And modern thriller writers would do well to study his technique.

Writing this has made me hanker to read the book and see the film again. And of course the reason I wrote this piece is that I’ve just seen Skyfall, one of the best Bond films I think, with its nod to its past. You probably had to be over fifty if, when, at the end of the film as the familiar Bond theme music was finally used, you found yourself wiping away a small tear from the corner of your eye.

. . . aNOtHEr dIp INtO ThE mAGpIE mEMOrY pOOoL.


Russell 'C.J.' Duffy said...

I would go so far as to say 'Skyfall' is as good as 'From Russia With Love.' Sad to see M die though but having Ralph Feinnes as the new M is a masterstroke. I also loked the new Q.

Wastedpapiers said...

I must admit the recent Bond films seem rather predictable compared with the earlier ones. Not seen Skyfall. Will have to wait until the local library gets it in on DVD and Blu Ray before we get to see it - no sign of the promised refurbished theatre being open any time soon. Dr. No was the first I saw when I was about 16 and thought it was wonderful. All those Sean Connery ones were good. It started going down hill after that. Roger Moore and his raised eyebrow and the others who's names I forget they made little impact.

Roger Stevens said...

I'd agree that Skyfall is up there with the best. Top five I reckon. You must see it Michael. I enjoyed the Roger Moore films too. I haven't really enjoyed any of the others though. A mixed bunch - some okay - some rubbish. My number one was probably Goldfinger.

Russell 'C.J.' Duffy said...

for 'loked' see liked.

Fumble Fingers Flannegan.