Monday, January 29, 2018

James Bond Project - Book vs Movie - From Russia with Love

From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming (Amazon Link)
Published 1957
Notable Characters:  James Bond
Tatiana Romanova
Darko Kerim
Rosa Klebb
This wasn't my favorite of the Bond books so far.  The primary issue that Bond wasn't actually in the book for at least the first third.  Instead it was mostly Russian agents talking about Bond or figuring out a way to get revenge on Bond.  I'm not a big fan of the super villain who can do no wrong or the super hero who makes no mistakes and this had a little bit of both at the beginning.  Once Bond actually appeared in the book things got a bit better but it still took awhile for it to feel like anything was happening.  While I had been impressed with Ian Fleming's female characters in the previous books - they were tough, smart, and frequently saved Bond's life when his plan went off the rails - I was underwhelmed with Tatiana Romanova
.  She's not an idiot but she's very much the damsel in distress and is mostly helpless or afraid.  Gayla Brandt (from Moonraker) or Tiffany Case (Diamonds are Forever)would have made short work of her.  The end felt a bit rushed for all the build up at the beginning.  This wasn't awful but it was by far my least favorite Bond book so far.  When I was doing a little research I found that Fleming really struggled with this one and ended up doing more reworking than he had done of any novel previously and actually set this one up so that it could be the last Bond novel.  I think his struggle really comes through in the book.  I did find it interesting that several of the characters were based on real people who Fleming had come in contact with or written about in his newspaper career.  Rosa Klebb is based on a Colonel Rybkin who was a member of the Lenin Military-Political Academy and Tatiana Romanova was inspired by Krystyna Skarbek a Polish spy.

Premiere Date - 1963
Cast: James Bond - Sean Connery
Tatiana Romanova - Daniela Bianchi
Ali Kerim Bey - Pedro Armendariz
Rosa Kleb - Lotte Lenya

So far this movie follows the book the closest.  They cut down the large portion of the book that was dedicated to plotting and talking about how great Bond was to about 5 minutes worth of screen time.  There was some change up on the villains and the last 20 minutes definitely took a detour but actually made for a more exciting and better flowing end.  I like Sean Connery as Bond far more than Roger Moore.  I think he captures Bond's silent intensity and coldness far more than Moore's humorous gadget heavy portrayal.  We do lose some of the development of Tatiana's motivations and character. She seems kind of like a cut out character and I found it hard to tell exactly what she was thinking or why she was doing what she was doing.  This was a fun movie and my favorite so far of the pre-Daniel Craig Bond movies.  While Connery is a little more charming than Bond it has much more of a book feel than anything I've seen with Roger Moore.  And it's one of the few movies I can say that I liked better than the book.  This was also the first film that Q was played by Desmond Llewelyn - a role that would be his for 36 years.

Next up is Doctor No.  I'm hoping that Fleming's Bond muse will have returned and that this book will be back to the usual standard.


  1. That's so interesting about the the real life inspirations for Fleming's characters! Rosa Klebb was a nasty piece of work in the movie, interesting that her and Tatiana were based on real people! Sorry to hear the book was a little disappointing. I do like the movie though, have to agree about Connery as Bond. His might be my favorite portrayal. I also liked the Istanbul intrigue/ hidden caves/ gypsy camp element of this one. A pretty good movie!

    I'm really curious what you'll think of Dr. No since I'm fond of that one (the movie- haven't read the books).

  2. I'm sorry this book didn't quite grab you. I've never read any Bond books. I don't really love James Bond as a character, so they have never appealed to me. I do like Flemings' Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, though. :)

  3. I hope the next book measures up too. I know my husband has read all the Bond books and enjoyed them. He always tells me how different they are from the movies. Maybe one day I'll see for myself. :-)

  4. I haven't watched the old movies in so long but the mister does want to marathon them sometime. I've been wanting to try reading the books as well as he really loved them when he read them. It's a shame that this one wasn't for you though. What an awesome series of posts though, will you be doing this with the whole series?

  5. It's been ages since we watched a Bond movie but I don't think I have ever read one of the books. My father was a big fan of the series.

  6. I haven't read many of the original Ian Fleming James Bond books, but I hav e read some of the newer ones.

    Lauren @ Always Me

  7. Hmmm...I haven't read one Bond book and I haven't seen any of the old Bonds. I only started watching with Pierce Brosnan.

  8. I never read the James Bond books, although I've seen all the movies.

  9. What a great idea! I have never read any of the bond books, but I have seen quite a few of the movies. :)

  10. I really need to try the Bond books! :) I like Sean Connery better than Roger Moore too! :)

  11. Love the tidbit about the inspiration for characters. I have only watched a few Bond I hope the next book delivers.

  12. I like the comparisons! I don't think that I have seen a Bond movie starring Connery which is odd because I love Sean Connery.