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Following quickly on the successful heels of DR. NO, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman unleashed the second James Bond adventure, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE ($25). To many, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is considered the best James Bond film ever, and it is certainly amongst my personal favorites of the long running film series. The strength of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE lies in the fact that the film is a character driven action movie. Plus, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE isn’t overloaded with the gadgetry one finds in the later films in the series. In FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, Sean Connery makes his second appearance in the role of James Bond. The second time around Connery comes off as even cooler, and more in control of every situation, adding greatly to the James Bond mystique.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is also a significant part of the film series since it introduces audiences to James Bond’s arch nemesis Ernst Stavros Blofeld who is the head of the terrorist organization SPECTRE. The plot concerns SPECTRE’s plan to acquire a Russian decoding device, which will also serve as a means to discredit Agent 007. SPECTRE’s plan uses Bond’s penchant for the ladies against him. A beautiful Russian cryptographer is unknowingly duped by a SPECTRE operative into accepting an assignment where she must feign being in love with Bond to win his confidence, and then help him steal the decoding device. Daniela Bianchi is Tatiana Romanova, the exquisitely beautiful Russian whom 007 finds quite easy to love. Robert Shaw portrays Red Grant, the SPECTRE assassin assigned to oversee the mission and keep Bond alive until he gets the decoder. As far as Bond villains go, Shaw was one of the most memorable. Equally memorable is Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb, a former KGB agent who has joined SPECTRE and helped orchestrate the elaborate plan. The cast of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE also includes Pedro Armendáriz, Bernard Lee, Eunice Gayson and Lois Maxwell.

Kudos must go to MGM Home Entertainment for the spectacular job they have done with their THX DVD release of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. The DVD offers FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE in both Letterboxed and pan and scan transfers on different layers of this single sided DVD. The pan and scan version crops the film just a bit. Color and image quality are very good on the cropped version. However, diehard Bond fans will find the Letterboxed version preferable. The Letterboxing presents FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE close to its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and the framing looks well balanced. Image quality is absolutely super, with everything being well detailed. Colors are nicely saturated and display their IB Technicolor lineage. Digital compression artifacts were never overtly noticeable.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack sounds quite good and will take a fair amount of amplification. Other soundtrack options include French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer access to a theatrical trailer, a "Villains & Mayhem" montage, film trivia and a little hidden surprise.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is one of the best Bond movies ever. MGM’s THX DVD offers fantastic value and quality. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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