Sunday, June 10, 2007

Let's Just Say Istanbul is a Rough Town

In the final throes of the spring semester, it's nice to go back to an early Bond, the Sean Connery kind. From Russia With Love (1963), the second in the series, still holds water. It's got a current feel, not requiring the Cold War as its main backdrop, and though the Russians provide their share of the plot, it could easily be set in 2007 (i.e. they could be Putin Russians). The complexities of international intrigue are made clear, and James Bond is not exaggerating when he quips, "Let's just say Istanbul is a rough town." Ali Kerim Bey, Bond's main contact through most of the film, provides a strong and somewhat rare character in the form of a sympathetic Turkish operator. One glimpses ethnic rivalries and squabbles, turf wars and pauses of an ancient and ongoing nature. Bulgarians vs. Gypsies, Turks vs. Russians, and international crime, much like today. Throw in Daniella Blanchi as the Russian "Bond girl" Tatiana Romanova, Martine Beswick as a fighting Gypsy, and Robert Shaw as an assassin out to get Mr. Bond, plus lots of trademark Bond theme music, and the mix is complete -- and satisfying.

Today's Rune: The Self.

Birthdays: Jacques Marquette, Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet, Tatiana Nikolaievna Romanova (Gregorian calendar), Howlin’ Wolf (b. Chester Arthur Burnett), Saul Bellow, Judy Garland (b. Frances Ethel Gumm), Maurice Sendak, Edward Osborne Wilson, F. Lee Bailey, John Edwards, Kim and Kelley Deal, Elizabeth Hurley.



Danny Tagalog said...

Hi Erik, re: previous remark. You might laugh at the headline here:

Bubs said...

OH, Martine Beswick...she gave me a special feeling as a young man. She also appeared in THunderball, and went on to do some Hammer horror films.

The best thing about From Russia With Love was Bertholt Brecht's wife, Lotte Lenya, as Rosa Kleb, with her poison spike shoe

Johnny Yen said...

Those old Bond movies have really stood up well. I still think Sean Connery was, by far, the best Bond-- just the right mix of dash, handsomeness and humor.

It's interesting, the underlying message, in the Bond movies, that the Americans are naive and ham-handed in espionage and intelligence. I remember reading something about how surprised Eisenhower was at the British belief that an ounce of espionage and intelligence were worth a pound of war, and how he was amazed at how much those things helped in the war effort.

Charles Gramlich said...

I still haven't seen the newest Bond, but I do remember many Bond movies and books with fondness.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks, dudes, for the comments --
Danny: even funnier!
Bubs: Martine Beswick is my kind of Bond girl in both flicks. I had no idea that the "horrible horrible woman" was Brecht's wifey. Wow.
Johnny: right on with both points. Direct hits.
Charles: me, too. Very strong influence on me as a kid.

Evan said...

This was the movie that convinced even Ian Fleming that Sean Connery was great as Bond. Fleming had originally wanted either David Niven, or - get this - Christopher Lee (his cousin!) as Bond. After seeing From Russia With Love, he said Sean Connery was how he had imagined Bond, though it hadn't all come through in in his writing.