Submitted by admin on Wed, 05/22/2024 - 06:11
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present the third in our popular series of James Bond revival screenings. Following the successful showings of the very first Bond picture, 'Dr. No,' and the popular third film, 'Goldfinger,' we present the second movie in the long-running series, 'From Russia with Love.' This screening takes place almost 60 years to the day when the movie enjoyed its wide U.S. release in May 1964.'Dr. No' had been a big hit when it opened a year earlier, and producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman decided to bring Bond back. They chose Ian Fleming’s novel 'From Russia with Love' in part because President John F. Kennedy had listed that book as one of his ten all-time favorite books in an article that appeared in Life magazine. The producers doubled the budget from $1 million to $2 million for this second appearance of 007, which turned out to be a modest investment considering that the new movie ended up grossing close to $80 million, approximately $800 million in today’s dollars. Terence Young, who had helmed 'Dr. No,' returned to the director’s chair. The screenplay was penned by Richard Maibaum (a frequent Bond screenwriter) and Johanna Harwood.Sean Connery returned for his second appearance as Bond, along with Bernard Lee as M and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny. There were some new additions to the cast—Mexican actor Pedro Armandariz, who died before the film was released, and Oscar nominees Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya as two of the villains. Daniela Banchi played the heroine, a Russian agent who defects to the West as a result of her romance with Bond.A number of other elements that came to define the Bond series were introduced in 'From Russia With Love.' It was the first film to have a pre-title action sequence, and it was also the first picture to have a title song, written by Lionel Bart, the enormously successful composer of 'Oliver!' (British singer Matt Monro performed the song.) John Barry wrote his first Bond movie score, embellishing the theme music penned by Monty Norman for 'Dr. No.' In addition, this was the first picture in which Bond gets an arsenal of nifty weapons, though far more modest than what his team provided for him in later movies.This picture also sent Bond to exotic locations—Istanbul and Venice, along with a perilous journey on the famed Orient Express. Other scenes were filmed at Pinewood Studios outside London. There were other novelties. Hollywood’s Production Code had been revised in 1961 to allow discreet treatment of homosexuality for the very first time, and the producers took advantage of this leniency to depict Lenya’s Rosa Klebb as a lesbian with fairly overt designs on the glamorous but naïve Banchi.Robert Shaw (later to star in such enormous hits as 'A Man For All Seasons,' 'The Sting,' and 'Jaws'), with his dyed-blond hair, also has a slightly androgynous quality as the fighter recruited by Klebb to assassinate Bond. The fight scene between Connery and Shaw aboard the Orient Express, regarded as one of the best fight scenes in cinema history, took three weeks to film.Even though reviews were not crucial to the success of the Bond movies, 'From Russia With Love' had some of the best reviews of the entire franchise, currently listed at 97 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes. At the time, Penelope Gilliatt, writing for The Observer, noted, “The set-pieces are a stunning box of tricks.” Time magazine called the picture “fast, smart, shrewdly directed and capably performed.” Variety praised “a preposterous, skillful slab of hard-hitting, sexy hokum.”The film continues to be fondly remembered. Sean Connery, later Bond actors Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig, as well as later Bond producer Barbara Broccoli have all named it as one of their favorite Bond movies.Our guest Jon Burlingame is the nation’s leading writer on the the subject of music for film and television. He has taught film music history courses at the University of Southern California and has lectured on film and TV music over the past 30 years at locations around the world. Among his several books, he wrote the definitive history of 007 film music, THE MUSIC OF JAMES BOND, in addition to recently co-authoring MUSIC BY JOHN BARRY. He joins us to introduce 'From Russia With Love' for a pre-screening Q & A at the historic Royal Theatre, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.