I think I was maybe 12 the first time that I saw this movie. I know for sure that I didn't get it. I'd been watching the Roger Moore James Bond movies by this time, so From Russia with Love was just...weird.
Watching it today, I am much more impressed by it. It introduces the gadgets in the form of the trick briefcase (which you spend the rest of the movie just waiting for him to use), and it steps up the ol' Bond sexuality. Not that it was missing in Dr. No, it just feels like they upped it a little in the second one. If you know what I mean. (No, that didn't make any sense, but it seemed like something you have to say when talking about Bond sexuality).
The plot of From Russia with Love is, I think, superior to Dr. No. It introduced the concept of a mysterious power player in the quest for world domination in the form of SPECTRE. More importantly, the mysterious leader of the group who you never see except for when he's stroking his cat. Heh heh. But seriously, you don't see him.
Fun fact - looks like they did a Darth Vader with him - a guy named Anthony Dawson played him in the movie (though he's credited with a "?" - ooooh, mysterious!), but his voice was a guy named Eric Pohlmann.
Getting back to the plot, it is fairly straight forward. There are no twists like there would be if this movie had been filmed today. But it's interesting enough that it drew me in. I think maybe the mark of a good James Bond plot-line might be "Would this plot work if there was no James Bond?" In this case, yes.
Another fun fact - Daniela Bianchi, who plays the Russian Bond girl that is defecting but is a spy but is actually being played by SPECTRE, is Italian who spoke almost no English. Her voice was dubbed by Barbara Jefford. Dubbing seems to be a fairly popular method of movie making back in the day...
Does it hold up?
I say yes, it holds up. Connery seems a lot more comfortable in the Bond skin. The Bond Ladies are cute. There's a nice belly dancing scene, which while completely unnecessary was entertaining. Even with the incredibly dated technology, this was a great movie.
I recommend it for anyone that likes James Bond movies. From Russia with Love is plain old fun. Yes, it also predates the moon landing, but it's believable, even with the old fashioned technology. And styles. And attitudes.
I should probably figure out some kind of rating system of some kind.