Based on novels by Ian Fleming, directed by Terence Young, “Dr No” is the first James Bond film committed to film. Starring Sean Connery, the plot follows British super-spy James Bond as he tries to uncover how a fellow agent was killed in Jamaica, which eventually leads him to the mysterious Dr No who has evil in mind. This is the story of how a highly trained operative functions when thrown into a mystery situation when there is not much information to go on and apparently everyone is standing in his way, if not trying to kill him.
If you have seen any of the other Bond films this one will surely stand out as a simpler version, with no over the top explosions and effects, no random gadgets to save the day, no complicated twists and turns to keep the audience guessing. It is simpler in its approach and yet its more detailed due to its simplicity. The film is character driven and relies on intelligence to push forward, making it more mysterious and thrilling as a result. It relies on reality to solve the day, which is not something that stayed with the franchise later on. As an example, when securing his room Bond uses talcum powder on his briefcase and human hair on his cupboard door, all just to find out if somebody goes into his room after he’s left. In later films it is no surprise to see invisible cars or x-ray spectacles being used.
Connery is charming yet tough – cool and suave but equally adept to being cruel and calculated. Jack Lord plays American CIA operative Felix Leiter with great efficiency – cold yet efficient, in the know but unable to interfere. Ursula Andress is Honey Rider, who even to this day is an iconic for her performance on screen. From the first moment she appears, like she does to Bond, she captures the audience’s attention too. Playing “Dr No” you have Joseph Wiseman, who had previously been highly regarded on and off stage – he commands presence as the nemesis to Connery’s Bond.
This film may be dated by today’s high budget super explosion films, but this is the film that pathed the way. If not for “Dr No” there would be no golden gun, there would be no Blofeld, no riding down mountains in cello cases, no submarine cars, no space flight with metal mouthed henchmen. This is a great film and worthy of a watch. By today’s standards it is family safe for the whole family. So, sit back and enjoy the Bond that started it all.
Title Song: James Bond Theme – John Barry & Orchestra & The ‘Kingston Calypso’ (a.k.a. ‘Three Blind Mice’) – Byron Lee and the Dragonaires
In terms of Bond films this is an 8 out of 10.
In terms of movies in the long and illustrious history of film I would still give this a 7 out of 10.
Bond, James Bond, 007 – Ranking
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