James Bond rewatch: ‘Dr. No’

Posted Filed under

001. The story

Blighty’s man in Jamaica, Strangways, has disappeared believed dead. London is concerned he was bumped off for finding out something he shouldn’t. Who will investigate? Sherlock Holmes? Joe Columbo? No. The name’s… oh you know.

002. The villains

The clue’s in the title. Not seen until late in, Dr. No’s presence is felt throughout, guiding events from afar. Joseph Wiseman baddie is calm, unflappable, brainy and always one step ahead of 007; not a man to be trifled with.

The not-so-good Doctor has a swathe of lackeys at his beck and call, including morose craggy-faced metallurgist Professor Dent, the Three Blind Mice (the first Bond bad guys we meet, who even get in the credits) and a particularly useless chauffeur.

003. The girls

Honey Ryder emerges from the sea with a big blade dangling from her waist in an iconic image that even the Bond series itself would go on to rip off twice. Beyond that though, the dubbed Ursula Andress doesn’t truthfully do much except look confused and casually recount murdering a rapist (‘Did I do wrong?’).

We also meet Miss Taro, a dodgy paparazzi who works for – hey! – Dr. No, whilst Sylvia Trench puts one of Bond’s shirts on and plays golf in his apartment shortly after meeting him in a casino…

004. Best moments

Yes, THAT line. Also memorable; spider on the bed, Dr. No’s first appearance in his aquarium, the reactor room punch up as Dr. No desperately wishes for some rough material on his metal hands; and the psychedelic opening credits.

005. Trivia

» Lois Maxwell was offered Sylvia Trench ahead of Miss Moneypenny, but objected to appearing half naked on screen.

» Sylvia was meant to appear at the start of each Bond film, her amorous moment with 007 cut off by his call to duty. She returns briefly in From Russia with Love, but actress Eunice Gayson was unavailable for Goldfinger, and the character was never seen again.

» The bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the film was sold in 2001 at Christie’s Auctions in London for £35,000.

» Noel Coward was suggested for Dr. No by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. When Noel said “no, no, no” to the part it was Fleming’s cousin, Christopher Lee, who was next in line. He also declined.

» Fleming’s initial reaction upon viewing the film was: “Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

006. Best quotes

“I admire your courage, Miss…” – “Trench. Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck Mr…” – “Bond. James Bond.”

“That’s a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six.”

“One million dollars, Mr Bond. You were wondering what it cost.”

“Are you looking for shells too?” – “No. I’m just looking.”

“Tell me, does the toppling of American missiles really compensate for having no hands?”

007. The verdict

Its unusual how out of step with the rest of the series Dr. No now seems. The big sets, larger than life villain with a grand scheme, sexy girls and exotic locales are all there, but the story is compact, direct and linear. Connery is of course key to making it all click, and instead of doing a lift from the book plays Bond his way to the role’s – and the film’s – benefit.

Andress is pretty blah, but Wiseman’s titular villain still remains one of the franchise’s most memorable as the Machiavellian, methodical bad guy and Ken Adam’s sets are like nothing that had been seen before. Dr. No arguably set the pace for the action blockbuster era that followed.

The film lacks a certain confidence and grandeur that later entries would eventually have, but it doesn’t fail. Had it done so, we wouldn’t be getting all excited about Skyfall half a century on.

What do you think of Dr. No? Let us know below…