Dr. No (1962)
Directed by: Terence Young
Written by: Berkely Mather, Ian Fleming, Johanna Harwood, Richard Maibaum, Terence Young
Starring: Bernard Lee, Sean Connery, Ursula Andress
HCF REVIEWS: THE COMPLETE JAMES BOND COLLECTION
THE BOND FILM: Dr NO
THE BOND: Sean Connery
THE BOND GIRL: Ursula Andress – Honey Ryder
THE BOND BAD: Joseph Wiseman – Dr. Julius No: A member of SPECTRE.
THE BOND SONG: “James Bond Theme” – John Barry Orchestra – Monty Norman
THE BOND DIRECTOR: Terence Young
BOND WISECRACK: Worker: What happened? James Bond: I think they were on their way to a funeral!
RELEASED: 5th October 1962
THE BOND TRAILER:
THE BOND PLOT:
James Bond is called to Jamaica where a colleague and secretary have been mysteriously killed. With an American CIA agent they discover that the nefarious Dr. No is scheming to blackmail the US government with a device capable of deflecting and destroying US rockets launched from Cape Canaveral.
THE BOND REVIEW:
I start these Bond look back films with a confession. I have never been that much of a James Bond fan. Now that is not saying that I had never watched one of these films, I mean how impossible was it not too when in the age I was growing up, a film from the series seemed to be on every weekend on the same channel. I remember sitting down many times to watch Dr No and found it a complete bore – please bare with me here Bond fans- and I also found the later episodes of the Roger Moore era to tongue in cheek and more like a carry on caper than a solid spy adventure. It was only when and this will shock you that Tomorrow Never Dies came out and I sat there totally in love not only with the film, but character, his wisecracks and all its lovely outlandish tone that I started to see the franchise in different eyes. From that moment I started to dip into the franchise a bit more, an odd one would appear on the TV and I would watch, ones like the The Spy Who Loved Me or You Only Live Twice, I suppose the moment that I realised that the franchise needed to be seen was when TV Comic Alan Partridge done the whole franchise in five minutes and had me creased with laughter and it was right there that I decided that it was time to watch them all in order.
Its been a few years since I made that vow but I have decided to go for it and today I started of course with the very film that started it all……Dr No!
Yes it was 1962-an amazing 50 years ago when we heard a handsome man with a cigarette hanging by the side of this mouth utter the words.
Now its a name and phase that is built in the minds of generations, but back then unless you read the 1958
novel by Ian Fleming,
this guy was a complete and utter stranger to you. Who was this man who seemed so good at playing cards?, who was this dashing charmer with a cold stare who acted like he did not give a shit to anyone around him? Well for the next 109 minutes we were all set to find out and afterwards cinema itself was never going to be the same again!
Before I get to the ins and outs of the film lets just get some basic facts out of the way. Yes Sean Connery
is the guy we all know who created this character on screen but originally the producers Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli
and Harry Saltzman
considered Cary Grant
which judging by his looks and charm would have been an idea choice. The main factor that stopped this from happening was that they were desperate to have someone in the role for not just one film but for a few and knowing that Grant would probably not commit to a long franchise they decided to look elsewhere. Richard Johnson
was considered afterwards but he turned it down along with Patrick McGoohan
who at the time was playing another spy in the shape of John Drake
in the popular TV show Danger Man
. There was rumours that Roger Moore
was also approached and considered (a claim Moore
later denied) but the producers were put off because he looked too young (a trait followed many years later regarding Piece Bronson
), and finally after weeks of searching and also hosting a contest to “find James Bond
“, in which six finalists were chosen and screen tested by Broccoli, Saltzman, Fleming
himself, (think of X Factor)
in which the winner was a 28 year-old model named Peter Anthony
, who, according to Broccoli
himself had the presence of a certain Gregory Peck
but proved unable to cope with the role, in walked Sean Connery
Its been said that Sean
turned up for the meeting with the motto of “not dress to impress!”. He walked in with an attitude that would normally rub Executives up the wrong way, but somehow his manner made Broccoli
sit up and take note! There in front of them was the Bond
they were waiting for and not only was he prepared to star in the film but also further more if Dr No was the success they believed it could be.
With their lead actor in place it was time to look for a woman and unknown to them all this was a start of a franchise trend that will carry through for the next 20 odd films. The phase “Bond-Girl” would be prominent on all new Bond films as fans wait will eager breath to see which actress would get the role. Originally Julie Christie was considered, but two weeks before filming, a producer saw a picture of Ursula Andress taken by the then husband John Derek and was immediately seduced. Yes her was voice was eventually dubbed but there is no denying that the moment she comes out of the ocean is another pivotal classic moment that cemented the status of a now infamous franchise.
Watching Dr No for the first time in over 25 years I was amazed at how much of the film had that the franchise has carried on with. I mean the James Bond films has not morphed into the juggernaut it is after a few films, all its origins was right here and it was a joy to see. From the opening clip of Bond walking and firing the gun into the eye followed by the bleed to the then title sequence which of course here is minus a Pop song but the Bond Theme more than makes up for any loss.
I have to say that from the off I was fascinated by this film, it was like a history lesson and through out I could not help but have thoughts of “If only they knew while filming what they were achieving”. The film itself is so different to later Bond films even though there are many similarities. All the elements are here to make all Bond fans happy from the witty one-liners “I think they were on their way to a funeral!”, seduction the Bond way, the dirty names “Honey Ryder!”, exotic locations, to of course an ingenious villain who wants world domination. But despite all this there is a wonderful downbeat feel to it all that made me want to jump in joy.
This is serious Bond, a man who actually gets hurt and also really works to do his job. There is no Q on hand to give him a gadget that you know he will need later on, this is a man who really needs to use his training and experience to get him through the mission. Somehow this works brilliantly and it helps that Connery is simply breathtaking in the role. He really comes across like a cold hearted bastard and someone you really do not want to mess with. There is one scene that stunned me and had me sit up in awe and it was when Bond confronted Professor R. J. Dent for their little showdown. Dent pulls out his gun and fires at Bond only for the gun to be empty…. (a scene similar in Casino Royale)
James Bond: “That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six”….
And with that Bond shoots him in which Dent falls to the floor. Bond without moving and knowing the guy is going to die, shoots him again in his back to make sure and its a scene that shows the care free attitude of a man with no remorse and a scene that would never be dared copied in the Bronson era.
The Villain a Mr Dr No may not be the franchise finest but still goes and sets up a blueprint for others to follow. Joseph Wiseman plays the evil bastard like the criminal mastermind we all used too and while he does not share much screen time, his moment around the dinner table with the company of Bond is another timeless scene that does the franchise proud. Yes he does wear silly make up to make himself look half-Chinese, but its his great mind and rapport with 007 that makes him a worthy adversary, even though his tin crushing hands (do not ask) does tip the scale a bit to far fetched. And anyway without his outlandish underground lair, there would be no Austin Powers to take the piss off many years later.
My biggest gripe is the “Bond Girl who has this legacy of being the greatest of them all. Yes she does look hot in “that Bikini) but she really does not do nothing memorable other than step out of the ocean. Now I may be pissing off many Bond fans here and I do apologise but she did not enthral me like she could have. I had to laugh though and its something that I had simply forgotten and that was her story regarding her being a victim of attempted rape and dealing with it by putting a poisonous black widow spider in the man’s bed to kill him off. I loved the reaction of Bond who simply can not believe what he is hearing and no wonder he did not try to sleep with her at that moment.
While the opening half and middle section is a joy, the finale seems a bit rushed and too easy and maybe you have to thank Mr Powers for ruining this stage because I half expected Dr Evil to turn up alongside Mini Me. Saying that though time is kind to Dr No simply because its played like a proper Spy caper and for that this Bond outing-the first of its kind is a brilliant starter point. Everything is set up lovely and it does have this wonderful knack of making you want to watch more when the film came to an end. Younger fans my not get excited by what is on offer (I sure didn’t when I was a lad) but its a film that is destinded to find love if only for apprectaion to what it started.
As my DVD stopped in the player and I looked at the screen I knew that I had not seen the best Bond film but I have watched the most important one, if this was not a success then we would not have had nearly 50 years to look back on and for that it is why Dr No has my upmost respect and while I would still love to write more on this film I do have to end this review now because Russia is calling and it is sending its love…….