Celebrating a film’s ‘birthday’ is a bit of a silly idea, isn’t it? After all it’s not as if a film could actually ‘die’. So making it, say, 50 years down the road isn’t so much a feat as a simple sign that time moves in one direction, and one direction only.
But today we do not just celebrate an ordinary film. This evening it’s 50 years since a true classic found its way onto the silver screen of London’s Odeon theatre. And from there right into the hearts of an army of Bond fans. The Bond phenomenon shaped modern pop-culture’s surface like few other trends and ‘From Russia With Love’ can justifiably be regarded as part of its cutting edge. It went deeper into early sixties sensibilities and the mindset of the Cold War than any other Bond film. And it was more serious about its business, influencing the entire spectrum of the spy genre. Terence Young’s landmark did not just teach audiences to tell the true Englishman by his choice of wine to go with fish. It also moved the action into dark corners where telling friend from foe wasn’t always easy. Where fights were tough, deadly serious business, bloody in the truest sense. Where Bond’s enemy’s enemy was decidedly not his friend, regardless how many times 007 profited from the silent killer in his wake. And where the beautiful woman is indeed an enemy agent, out to lure the hero – though unwittingly – to his doom.
‘From Russia With Love’ today is regarded as one of the great classics of both British cinema and of Eon’s Bond series. It is a favourite with many fans and critics and keeps coming up on top places with many rankings. It was indeed a marvellous cast of fortune that combined Ian Fleming’s original novel – a treasure in its own right – with the talents of Maibaum, Harwood, Barry, Hunt, Moore and countless others in the production team and in front of the camera. On top of this it was Pedro Armendáriz’s last role, enriching Eon’s Bond world with a character unsurpassed to this very day. Kerim Bey IS the epitome of Bond’s ally: shrewd, resourceful, charismatic. Many came after him, only few came close.
So it is with a sense of deep gratitude for this gem that I raise CommanderBond.net’s imaginary glass and toast to 50 years of ‘From Russia With Love’. I have no doubts this film will still be celebrated many more years from now.
Here’s to you, old friend!
Grateful thanks to Mark O’Connell for the kind permission to use marvellous above image. Mark O’Connell is the author of CATCHING BULLETS – MEMOIRS OF A BOND FAN “co-starring” Barbara Broccoli, Mark Gatiss and Maud Adams. Available now; for more details see www.markoconnell.co.uk