Release year: 1962
Director: Terence Young
Screenwriter: Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, Ian Flemming (based on the novel by)
Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, John Kitzmiller, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Anthony Dawson, Zena Marshall
Ratings: 1 Golden Globe: Best Female Newcomer (Ursula Andress)
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #307, week 19 2020
An agent has gone missing and agent 007, James Bond (Connery), is sent to Jamaica to investigate. Here he finds himself a target from he steps out of the plane and must survive several attempts on his life and tackle fire-breathing dragons and tarantulas while trying to find the secrets of the notorious Dr. No (Wiseman).
This, the very first outing of the most known agent of the cinematic world, was probably the one with the lowest budget as well. It shows, but only when comparing to the extravagance of the following movies. If you watched this without ever having seen a Bond movie, changes are you would never notice it. Because the story is a well-tailored and gripping thriller and off course, it introduces us to the charismatic Connery (The Rock, 1996). There is no doubt he is one of the biggest assets of the movie and it is no wonder why he remains the favourite Bond actor to many. Connery has plenty of charm to convince as a ladies man but also an air of something dangerous making him equally convincing as a skilled killer. He also manages to maintain the tongue-in-cheek humour the movies are renowned for without it tipping over into ridiculous (something not managed by all Bond actors). Despite the low budget, the movie introduces us to surprisingly many classic Bond elements, the intro is recognizable, the Martini is present, the Bond introduction and of course the lovely Bond babe. Andress (Clash of the Titans, 1981) was unknown to the world but only until she came out of the water in her white bikini. The Bond babe was in other words born already here and Andress is good, a nice blend of innocent and independent; she may need rescuing but she definitely has claws. Admittedly one of the best part of watching the movie is the nostalgia and the awe of watching a legend being born but it as also a great agent film with plenty of adventure from the exotic settings, colourful characters and plenty of entertaining value.
All of the sets and furniture were slightly smaller than they would be in reality, so that Bond would look larger.
As detailed as Dr. No’s underwater lair was, one vital element was very nearly forgotten, background plates of fish swimming in the sea to be added to the thick-glass window. The necessary film was quickly found amongst library footage the day before the scene was to be filmed. When it turned out the footage featured extreme close-ups of fish, it was decided to have Dr. No explain that the window works as a magnifying glass.
Author Ian Fleming wanted his cousin Sir Christopher Lee to play the role of Dr. No. (Lee appeared as Francisco Scaramanga in the Bond movie Manden med den gyldne pistol (1974), and would play the character that inspired Fleming to create Dr. No, Dr. Fu Manchu, in several movies.) Fleming also asked Noël Coward to play the part of Dr. No. Coward turned down the part by replying with a telegram that read, “Dr. No? No! No! No!” One of Coward’s objections was having to wear metal hands. Max von Sydow turned down the part in order to play Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), and would finally play a Bond villain in Never Say Never Again (1983). The role went to Joseph Wiseman, the only early Bond villain not to have his voice dubbed by another actor.
Picture copyrights: Sony Pictures