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Dr. No

Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No is a 1962 British spy film, starring Sean Connery, with Ursula Andress and Joseph Wiseman, filmed in Jamaica and England. It is the first James Bond film. Based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, it was adapted by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, and Berkely Mather and was directed by Terence Young. The film was produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, a partnership that would continue until 1975.

In the film, 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. Although the first of the Bond books to be made into a film, Dr. No was not the first of Fleming’s novels, Casino Royale being the debut for the character; the film makes a few references to threads from earlier books. This film also introduced the criminal organisation SPECTRE, which would also appear in six subsequent films.

Produced on a low budget, Dr. No was a financial success. While critical reaction was mixed upon release, over time the film has gained a reputation as one of the series’ best instalments. The film was the first of a successful series of 24 Bond films. Dr. No also launched a genre of “secret agent” films that flourished in the 1960s. The film also spawned a comic book adaptation and soundtrack album as part of its promotion and marketing.

Many of the iconic aspects of a typical James Bond film were established in Dr. No: the film begins with an introduction to the character through the view of a gun barrel and a highly stylised main title sequence, both created by Maurice Binder. Production designer Ken Adam established an elaborate visual style that is one of the hallmarks of the film series.

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WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

The Screen: ‘Dr. No,’ Mystery Spoof:
Film Is First Made of Ian Fleming Novels Sean Connery Stars as Agent James Bond

Published: May 30, 1963

IF you haven’t yet made the acquaintance of Ian Fleming’s suave detective, James Bond, in the author’s fertile series of mystery thrillers akin to the yarns of Mickey Spillane, here’s your chance to correct that misfortune in one quick and painless stroke. It’s by seeing this first motion picture made from a Fleming novel, “Dr. No.”
This lively, amusing picture, which opened yesterday at the Astor, the Murray Hill and other theaters in the “premiere showcase” group, is not to be taken seriously as realistic fiction or even art, any more than the works of Mr. Fleming are to be taken as long-hair literature. It is strictly a tinseled action-thriller, spiked with a mystery of a sort. And, if you are clever, you will see it as a spoof of science-fiction and sex.
For the crime-detecting adventure that Mr. Bond is engaged in here is so wildly exaggerated, so patently contrived, that it is obviously silly and not to be believed. It is a perilous task of discovering who is operating a device on the tropical island of Jamaica that “massively interferes” with the critical rocket launchings from Cape Canaveral.
Nonsense, you say. Of course, it’s nonsense — pure, escapist bunk, with Bond, an elegant fellow, played by Sean Connery, doing everything (and everybody) that an idle day-dreamer might like to do. Called from a gaming club in London to pick up his orders and his gun and hop on a plane for Jamaica before a tawny temptress leads him astray, old “Double Oh Seven” (that’s his code name) is in there being natty from the start. And he keeps on being natty, naughty and nifty to the end.
It’s not the mystery that entertains you, it’s the things that happen along the way—the attempted kidnapping at the Jamaica airport, the tarantula dropped onto Bond’s bed, the seduction of the Oriental beauty, the encounter with the beautiful blond bikini-clad Ursula Andress on the beach of Crab Key. And it’s all of these things happening so smoothly in the lovely Jamaica locale, looking real and tempting in color, that recommend this playful British film.
The ending, which finds Joseph Wiseman being frankly James Masonish in an undersea laboratory that looks like something inspired by Oak Ridge, is a bit too extravagant and silly, and likewise too frantic and long. But something outrageous had to be found with which to end the reckless goings-on.

My Review

93%

Sean Connery's debut as 007 Outside of Bond fandom very few people know that Sean Connery was actually the second actor to play the character of James Bond. In the 1950s there had been a television production based around Ian Fleming's first spy novel "Casino Royale" in which American actor Barry Nelson had played 007 as a US spy with Clarence Leiter as his British counterpart. Fast forward to the early 1960s and work is once again getting underway to bring the fictional spy to the screen. Cast in the lead role is what one UA executive referred to as a "lorry driver" and with a small budget (a measly $1 million) there seems to be little hope for the fledgling franchise. Yet when Doctor No (the final choice for the first of the series) hits screens it changes the film industry, sending reverberations the likes of which are still being felt today. Staying largely faithful to the Fleming book of the same name (something that was not to last) the rather modest movie set screens afire, helped enormously by the performances of Sean Connery and Swiss beauty Ursula Andress. In fact for many, Andress is the quintessential Bond girl, establishing one of cinema's most iconic images as she emerges from the sea in a white bikini). Right away the trademark violence is evident as three assassins murder a British operative and his pretty secretary in Jamaica. The break in communication has the British nervous and they send for their top agent. Switch to a smoky casino in London. And we see the back of a man, his hands moving his cards about the table and then taking a cigarette out of its case. Lighting it he is fully revealed and the trademark line "Bond, James Bond" is heard on cinema screens for the very first time. Arriving in Jamaica Bond learns that the missing operative was investigating the mysterious character of Doctor No who operates from a private island named Crab Key. Determined to learn the truth he arranges to sneak onto the island with his colleague Quarrel to discover the truth behind the disappearance. Taken on its own Doctor No is a nice, taut, suspenseful movie with some wonderful performances from its leads. New York actor Joseph Wiseman is particularly chilling as the title character with his metal hands (some disfigurement or quirk has since become a necessity for Bond villains). Taken as the initial outing in a franchise the movie is a low-key effort that ably sets the stage for the films that were to follow. Today this movie rarely tops people's lists as a favorite in the series, but that is largely because in the ensuing years the Bond series came to mean spectacle and special effects, often at the expense of good storytelling.

Script
95%
Acting
85%
Directing
95%
Bond girl Appeal
99%

About The Author

Darren

Born on the English-Scottish border I emigrated to the US after graduating college in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. I have served in the U.S. military and my past positions include as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post Company, a technical writer working on technical documentation for both a construction company and a large government contractor, a graphic designer creating graphics in support of government contract proposals, and as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. which included being assigned as the official writer for the Navy and DoD on the assumption ceremony of a new Secretary of the Navy. I am currently a Web Services Writer for a large government contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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