My run through of the entire (official) Bond film franchise begins! Now, don’t expect these on any kind of regular schedule, it’s more of a “when I have the time and feel like it” situation, so several might be posted in one week, or there might be several weeks without a single one. The goal is to finish before the next Bond film is released, which is roughly the end of next year, so we should be safe! ANYWAY, Dr. No then! It’s always quite amazing how much of what we know as Bond staples were in from the very first movie, and of course, Connery is great from the off, but the film does have some flaws. Let’s take a close look…
James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a fellow British agent. The trail leads him to the underground base of Dr. No, who is plotting to disrupt an early American space launch with a radio beam weapon.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The word “iconic” is thrown around a lot these days, but…
James Bond (Sean Connery) – MI6 agent with the codename 007, James Bond is as smooth as he is deadly, and a hit with the women as much as he … er… kills men. I didn’t think that last bit out. Sorry.
Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) – A local shell diver who ends up entangled in Bond’s mission to stop Dr. No… whilst wearing a bikini, because hooray!
Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) – Sinister member of the organisation known as SPECTRE. He has false, metal hands, which must be inconvenient as hell. No wonder he’s so angry against the world…
Quarrel (John Kitzmiller) – Quarrel is a Cayman Islander who ends up helping both CIA agent Felix Leiter and MI6 agent James Bond in their respective missions against Dr. No. He, of course, ends up well rewarded for his efforts… *ahem*.
Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) – CIA agent who was sent to liaise with Bond and generally help his mission.
Plus many more!
The reason HD blu-rays were invented, ladies and gentlemen! Look at the detail on those shells!
The most obvious thing is Sean Connery’s James Bond, who from the very first scene is oozes charisma and charm, then later nails the deadly seriousness when needed. While Dr. No was effectively built up and a good villain during his brief screen time, the rest of the cast isn’t so memorable, acting wise, so this often feels like the Sean Connery show, and boy, it’s a great show!
I love how even in this, the first Bond film, it still has the iconic gun barrel sequence, a funky intro bit (though set only to the now classic Bond theme), a cheesy villain in a lair and a wink-wink ending with Bond and a girl. Talk about getting the ball running!
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the film does a great job with Dr. No. Throughout most of the film he is just mentioned, then we get a few shadowy silhouettes and brief hand shots, before finally seeing and hearing him in person. It’s very effective. During the build up we get a “evil driver” car sequence, an attempted assassination with a spider and some shooting, so it’s not a dull wait for the reveal.
The final showdown is a good fight, with a horrible end for Dr. No and a big base explosion, so it’s fine.
Actually Dr. No is one of the highlights of the film, I just couldn’t resist putting him under the “Bad” category!
Ursula Andress’s Honey Ryder is certainly… well, sexy and that’s it. It’s funny that her voice was dubbed because her English was poor, but the dubbed voice doesn’t sound good either! Ah well, she does the job she was given, I guess you can say that…
The scene on the beach with the “dragon” (or a tank with a flamethrower) is so odd that it feels like the moment where the Bond series jumped the shark, despite the fact it was in the first film! Nothing this… odd was done for a long time either, so it just feels at odds. This is probably the only thing that feels like the series finding its feet, because it nails everything else.
“I’m paid to put my life at risk, but you should stay here.” “But… shells!” “Oh okay then.”
While it might be slower than a lot of modern Bond films… well, okay, all modern Bond films, Dr. No is still a great watch. Brilliant lead actor and a well scripted villain holds the film together, despite a few flaws. The fact that it got so much right from the start is a real testament to the film series. Fun film.