Around the age of 11 or 12 I started watching the Bond films whenever they appeared on TV, and I was instantly enthralled by them. Perhaps it was the exotic places or the beautiful ladies, but I think it was down to the cool, suave nature of the titular character. It wasn’t long until I owned every movie on VHS and even on repeated viewings (now on DVD), I still get fun and thrills out of them all. So, I felt I should buckle up and dive back into the world of 007, beginning of course with 1962’s Dr. No.
STARS – Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, John Kitzmiller
DIRECTOR – Terence Young
RUN-TIME – 109 minutes
BEST LINE – Obviously there’s the ultimate introduction, which sees audiences welcomed to the Ian Fleming agent at a casino, with Sean Connery uttering “the name’s Bond… James Bond.” However, if puns and cheesy lines are your scene, as they are with me, then 007 saying “I think they were on their way to a funeral“, after a hearse careers over a cliff and goes up in flames, is class deadpan delivery.
BEST GADGET – The first film in the Bond franchise doesn’t have much in the way of zip and wow for silly and/or practical gadgetry. The weapon of choice for the majority of films to come is his Walther PPK, seen and used for the first time here.
EEEK MOMENT – As someone with arachnophobia, the sight of the spy sweating buckets in bed, as he realizes he’s got the less than pleasant nighttime company of a tarantula, is one to send the heebie-jeebies level to 1000.
00 UH-OH – A small tussle at a bar sees Bond kick two adversaries into a stack of Red Stripe boxes, but it’s majorly clear these beer crates are empty cardboard husks and not even a fake smashing sound effect is used to hide the fact. Also, a supposed dragon that terrorizes Crab Key looks more like a Takeshi’s Castle creation as it lumbers over a muddy beach.
ICONIC MOMENT – Just before the movie hits the 60 minute mark, OG Bond Girl, Ursula Andress emerges from the waves in an image that has been mirrored in later Bond films and is the dreamy, sun-washed introduction to last the ages. Honey Ryder is a bikini clad shell collector with allure, smarts and a knife ready to hand and her beach-side intro is one that most people are aware of, I’m sure.
MINI REVIEW – The opening movie from 57 years ago may have some old-fashioned moments and the sexist, pushy masculinity of Bond may now be viewed in a less than aspirational way, but there is no doubt that former Scottish bodybuilder Sean Connery takes on the Bond persona with layers of charm and macho confidence. Dr. No sees 007 sent to Jamaica to look into the disappearance of a station chief, which leads him to believe the secretive island of Crab Key mastered by Dr. No, is no place for good.
John Barry’s theme is instantly recognizable from the first 2-3 seconds which is testament to what a blisteringly exemplary piece of music it is. It’s a musical motif used in all 23 Bond films since and there’s denying its pop cultural significance. Dr. No is the only Bond feature to not have a band or artist over the opening credits, instead we see a flashing set of lame disco lights backed by the theme before it cuts less than seamlessly to Caribbean-inspired drum beats.
The warm Jamaican setting lifts the film with a holiday postcard vibe. The story is simple, the location is pretty, the fights are few in numbers and the final showdown is over in the last 10 minutes, so whilst the cinematic inception of James Bond may not be the most explosive action movie, it certainly has a pleasing, joyful atmosphere coursing throughout, the sweet mango tree of a less gritty and serious Bond planting its roots in your mind.