From Russia (With Kisses & Flowers)

DATELINE: Spy Extravaganza

Lotte Lenya Lets Bond Have It

Lotte Lenya & Sean Connery in Fight Royale!

No, From Russia with Love is not about a date between Trump and Putin. It’s the 1963 movie about James Bond, based on Ian Fleming’s hilarious novels, and starring Sean Connery.

With its iconic music, beautiful location photography, glorious Technicolor, and outrageous performances, it is a hoot and a half, even fifty years after its original release. Every set up will have your mouth agape and fighting back laughs.

If you want to know how a movie can stand up to time, take a look: even with its anachronistic and silly car phones, beepers, and lasers. These were cutting edge back then.

Not half the entertainment is in its two foremost early Bond villains: Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya.

Shaw’s tow-headed muscle guy was a forerunner of Dolph Lundgren’s Soviet superman from Rocky. It was the start of a decade of over-the-top villains, culminating with Quint from Jaws.

No overwhelming technology or special effects had yet to take hold in the well-produced low-budget Bond movies. However, a regrettable act or two occurs, with Connery slugging a woman. The producers also steal Hitchcock’s North by Northwest crop duster chase with a helicopter going after Bond.

Pipsqueak septuagenarian Lotte Lenya steals every scene, as she did as the procuress in Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Her final confrontation, a fight with James Bond, is a kick or two to the head. She gives him a run for his secret agent style. You can’t beat an old lady fighting James Bond in grand style.

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Yes, Dr. No is Bananas

DATELINE:  First Bond

in Bond bed

Back in 1963, audiences were treated to a new kind of superhero in the person of Sean Connery:  Bond, James Bond.

The film called Dr. No was a departure on many levels from your usual spy/adventure stories. First, this was tongue-in-cheek (sort of) and came out of a series of Cold War novels by Ian Fleming.

As you might expect in this movie, the spies are decidedly low tech: old fashioned telephone banks are everywhere. There are no computers, and MI-5 or 6 communicates by short-wave radio with its agents.

The shocker: Bond has a license to kill and does so with the aplomb of your everyday cold-blooded sociopath. Of course, it’s all done in the name of the Queen and Country.

This movie deals with an independent terrorist organization that calls itself SPECTRE and is motivated mostly by evil and money, whichever is most handy.

The movie is lusciously filmed in Technicolor in Jamaica where Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), a half-Chinese mad genius, has a nuclear power plant where his workers wear what we’d call Hazmat suits today. Yet, the whole bunch of bananas seems like parody, not far from Get Smart.

Along for the Bond ride in this first Fleming novel on the big screen is Ursula Andress in various states of undress and Jack Lord as the CIA agent (before he went Hawai 5-O on us). Wiseman’s half-Chinese villain has no hands (black prosthetics) and cream-color suits that would make Sydney Greenstreet envious.

Bond is nothing less than promiscuous and rather dangerous, and Connery is perfect as the pre-politically-correct man’s man. Don’t shake that martini. Audiences must have hooted every time that Bond music motif hit the screen. It still tingles.

We particularly like the tarantula put into Bond’s bed and crawling up Connery’s arm and back. Ah, those were the days!