Having introduced Sean Connery as secret agent James Bond 007 the year before in "Dr No", producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman quickly consolidated their franchise with this even better follow-up. Sticking closely to Ian Fleming's original novel (chosen because John F Kennedy included it in his list of preferred reading), the result was a thrilling espionage adventure chock full of iconic characters, set pieces and one-liners.
The plot finds Connery's suave superspy on the trail of a top secret Russian decoding device, a quest that takes him to Istanbul and into the arms of glamorous defector Tatiana Romanova (played by Italian actress Daniela Bianchi). What Bond doesn't realise is that it's all a scheme cooked up by SPECTRE operatives Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and 'Red' Grant (Robert Shaw) to disgrace the Secret Service and assassinate its most valuable agent.
The action climaxes in an unbearably tense confrontation between 007 and Grant aboard the Orient Express, one of the finest scenes in the entire Bond canon. (The ensuing fisticuffs were incredibly violent for their day and are still cut every time the film is broadcast.) Throw in a glorious swansong performance from Pedro Almendariz as Bond's Turkish contact, Lotte Lenya's chilling Rosa Klebb and action sequences involving motor launches, helicopters and gun-toting gypsies and you have a film that only gets better with age. And despite introducing Desmond Llewelyn as Q, it's also free of the silly gadgetry and schoolboy humour that would dominate the series in the seventies and eighties.
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