This second James Bond outing became really famous only after its follow-up, Goldfinger, grossed a mint and kicked the series into permanent big-budget overdrive. From Russia With Love marked the last time the scale would be human, and it remains 007’s leanest, most intelligently crafted screen escapade. The plot concerns an intelligence decoder, not global domination, and the supporting cast — including Lotte Lenya as a dagger-shoed Russian defector and Robert Shaw as a bleached-blond hit man — make the villains genuinely threatening instead of absurd.

For this new laserdisc edition, the film’s color has been significantly enriched, and the shape of the screen image has been slightly ”letterboxed” to accommodate the rectangular picture (it’s cropped in other tape and disc versions), making the action easier to follow and restoring an elegant balance to fights, stunts, and scenery. There’s also a still-frame appendix of production photos, posters, original book covers, and an alternate audio track that lets you hear commentary from director Terence Young, editor Peter Hunt, and writer Richard Maibaum. While their anecdotes have little repeat value (and give away almost too much of the trickery involved in film production), the gorgeous look of this disc makes it as elegantly attractive as Bond’s own Bentley. B+

From Russia With Love
  • Movie
  • 110 minutes