Dr. No

  • Directed by Terence Young
  • October 5, 1962 (UK) / May 8, 1963 (US)
  • Based on the James Bond novel Dr. No (1958)

When Strangways, the Station Chief of MI6 in Jamaica, is murdered James Bond is tasked with investigating the death and determining if it connects to Strangways investigation of American rockets being knocked off course.

This is the movie that started at all. Dr No was unlike any spy movie of the time and began a film series which has lasted to this day along with numerous imitators. Compared to other films in the series, this was done on a tight budget. That is not something that was well hidden on the screen at times but the film’s overt quality helps it go beyond its financial limitations.

I must say Sean Connery is not my favorite James Bond. I know that’s heresy to many out there, but I grew up on Roger Moore and your first is always your favorite. Having said that, Connery is just about everything you could want in a James Bond from the time. He is suave and debonair and charming but also tough and ruthless and always in charge of the situation. Those are traits carried by the character from this film throughout most of the series run. He was always at the top of his game and as a song once said “Nobody does it better.”

Action and excitement and exotic locales along with beautiful women are found within this movie. We even get the first instance of the classic interaction between Miss Moneypenny and Bond. These were two people that had a genuine affection for each other but on some level knew it just would not work. And they ultimately valued their friendship more than me wanted a romantic relationship with each other. Missing from Dr. No though was the short introductory segment before the gun barrel sequence as well as a title track over the opening credits unless you count to “Three Blind Mice.”

Though there are a few minor Bond Girls along way, Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder stands out as the first major Bond Girl seen. Why do I call her a major Bond Girl and not just a Bond Girl? Because she is the first one to take part in a good chunk of the story and not just be his fling of the moment. I know Andress’s voice is dubbed but the look (and her introductory moment in the film) is what sets her apart.

Though generally superficial, as a character Honey Ryder gets dark at one point early in her introduction. When giving rather unnecessarily her life story to Bond she relates how she was living for free in a man’s house and he raped her. Her revenge was to kill him with a black widow spider and death took a bit. Seriously dark.

Joseph Wiseman is cold and intimidating as the titular Dr. No and he accomplishes this mostly with dialogue and just plain acting. He didn’t dump anybody in a shark tank or shoot anybody with a gun. He just came on and demonstrated that he was all business. With some well-placed and well-acted lines of dialogue Dr. Julius No is framed as crafty and dangerous. He has bested very dangerous organizations and now finds himself involved with the infamous organization SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion)

And that’s the big thing of this movie had going for itself: acting. From top to bottom and from major to minor characters we had top tier talent. They took something outlandish and made it engaging and exciting. The story itself is very much rooted in the politics in the era of the Cold War. James Bond came about in the perfect time for a super spy. And this movie takes full advantage of that.

Contrary to later stories in the series, in Dr. No Bond investigates more than he disrupts though his investigation is as much disruption as it is investigation. I think I just talked in a loop there. Bond follows the clues and once he gets his information he throws a monkey wrench into things in order stop or slow up the villain’s plot at that point. And that generally involves some killing.

The most important thing here is that the hero and the villain are equally matched. Bond and Dr. No are both on equal footing if not opposite sides and have different philosophies which are somewhat explored in their ultimate meeting. While we know Bond will ultimately win in some fashion, the villain looks like he could pull actually pull the scheme off. He is crafted as capable enough of defeating James Bond just as James Bond is crafted as being capable enough of beating him.

The action is thrilling. It’s as much adrenaline pumping as it is escapist fun. It’s one man facing off against incredible odds and though it’s probably a bit quiet by today’s standards for the time it stands out as some of the best. And with cool fashion set in a political world that no longer is, this is just great.

Dr. No is an amazing start to a mostly amazing film series. It’s got all the essential elements of good James Bond set a great story with great performances. This is a must see for all movie lovers!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

2 thoughts on “Dr. No

  1. Great post! I enjoyed watching a trailer of Dr. No 007. Sean Connery, I knew his name watching movies in the late 80s or 90s like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, etc. but not old movies when he was a handsome bond. Just added it to my watch list👍

    Liked by 1 person

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