From Russia with Love is a preposterous, skillful slab of hardhitting, sexy hokum. After a slowish start, it is directed by Terence Young at zingy pace.
This one has to do with Sean Connery being detailed to go to Istanbul and lift a top secret Russian decoding machine from the embassy. British Intelligence senses that this may be a trap, but getting the machine is important. Connery can pull it off if he will help a young Russian cipher clerk (Daniela Bianchi) to escape to the West. She thinks she is working for her Russian government, but actually she is a pawn of Spectre, an international crime syndicate.
Bond has a glorious slap-up fight to the death with Robert Shaw, the killer detailed to bump him off. He is hounded by a helicopter as he runs across moorland clutching the decoding machine. He beats off his pursuers in a motor boat by setting fire to the sea. He referees a fight between two jealous gypsy girls just before the encampment is invaded by the crime gang.
Connery is well served by some crisp wise-cracking dialog by Richard Maibaum [in his script adapted by Johanna Harwood]. Robert Shaw is an impressive, icy, implacable killer and the late Pedro Armendariz weighs in with a formidable, yet lightly played, performance as the man who knows the sinister secrets of Istanbul.
The distaff side is less well served. Newcomer Daniela Bianchi is a good looking Italian girl with shapely legs and promising smile. Lotte Lenya has been lumbered with a part that doesn’t fully come off. Disguised with an Eaton Crop and heavy pebble spectacles, she stands out as somebody up to no good from the first glimpse.