Before Goldfinger's needle found the series' groove there was still time for subtlety in Bond, and From Russia With Love contains some of the most understated moments in the franchise. Rosa Klebb's terrifying seduction / recruitment of Tatiana Romanova, Red Grant's silent guardianship over 007 for most of the film, Bond's tender squeeze of Kerim Bey's arm when he finds his dead body - all these and more point to writing and direction that rarely felt so confident again until Timothy Dalton took over 24 years later.
Triumphantly, all the sneaking about in the shadows and mumbling secret codes that could have made From Russia With Love a catatonic yawnfest are not just beautifully shot, edited and scored, but are contrasted perfectly with the action scenes - the revolutionary nature of which often goes overlooked. Take the brutal, bone-crunching fight on the Orient Express between Bond and Grant, who, incidentally, is so hard that when he whacks Bond in the chops he momentarily becomes Kenneth Williams.
Almost every sound you hear in those two minutes was created by dubbing editor Norman Wanstall and his team of noise wizards. Many of the crashes, bashes and smashes are exaggerated to the point where it sounds like someone shoving a drum kit down a stairwell, yet it never sounds unrealistic. Just very, very painful.
It's a proper spy thriller
John Barry's score
If you've ever skulked about in a Turkish mosque, watched two improbably beautiful gypsy women scratch each other to shreds or stolen a Macguffin from the Russian consulate in Istanbul, this is the music you would have been humming to yourself along the way. Perfect in almost every way.
And finally: All hail the first barely-disguised reference to Little James:
You're one of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen.
Thank you, but... I think my mouth is too big.
What the hell is BlogalongaBond? I'll tell you.
Further BlogalongaBondareading here