The 1st Bond Movie: “Dr. No” (1962)

There’s no question that this first entry in the still running series is a pure classic as it pretty much set-up every superhero/secret agent movie that would follow. Director Francois Truffaut gave an interview in 1979 stating that he believed this film helped ruin cinema as he felt movies were meant to tell a story so that people would believe it. I don’t agree with Truffaut but I can see how some might be put off by this film since it, in many ways, does play out like a guy’s fantasy. Bond is certainly the character any guy would want to be as he’s smooth talking, tough, gets all the ladies and in the end he always wins. With that said, I’m sure Truffaut shouldn’t have taken the film too seriously as the goal was probably just to deliver an entertaining movie. 

-Excerpt from IMDB review

This is the 1st Bond movie; it is based on the writings of Ian Fleming (who was himself a former British spy). Perhaps some of your parents recall seeing it (or some of the following films in the franchise) in theaters in their youth. I think I saw all of the films (starring Pierce Brosnan) in theaters w/ my family. My parents saw From Russia with Love several times when it aired on TV; this was likely in the mid-1970s in England. My dad commented that he liked Roger Moore’s version of Bond. I don’t know too much re: Bond films; many consider them to be “fantasy wish fulfillment,” while others feel they are “problematic.”

James Bond AKA 007 (Sean Connery)- Britain’s top agent- is on a mission to solve the mysterious murder of a fellow agent. The task sends him to Jamaica, where he joins forces w/ Quarrel (John Kitzmiller) and a C.I.A. Agent, Felix Leiter (Jack Lord). While dodging a tarantula, “dragon,” and “three blind mice” assassins, Bond meets beautiful Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) and goes face to face w/ the evil Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman).

Connery won the role of Bond after producer Albert R. Broccoli attended a screening of Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)- no joke! He was particularly impressed w/ the fist fight Connery has with a village bully; Broccoli later had his wife Dana see the movie and confirm his sex appeal. Fleming didn’t originally like the casting of Connery. Bond was English, but Connery was Scottish (his accent pops out often); Bond was from an upper-class background, but Connery was working-class; Bond was refined/educated, and Connery was rugged. Fleming served in British Naval Intelligence during World War II; he was acquainted w/ David Niven, then a Major with the British Commandos. Niven was Fleming’s first choice to play Bond. Director Terence Young called Connery “a diamond in the rough;” he spent time to polish him up, such as introducing him into British high society and getting him a new wardrobe.

The opening credits to Dr. No are wacky: flashing lights, dancing people, then three blind men walking around. Then we have the (now iconic) opening created by Maurice Binder almost at the last minute. It is the sequence where an assassin tracks Bond (played by Connery’s stuntman Bob Simmons), but he turns and shoots the assassin, all seen through the assassin’s gun barrel. The James Bond theme originated from a song Good Sign, Bad Sign composed by Monty Norman for a musical that was never produced. John Barry arranged and orchestrated Norman’s theme to produce the theme as it is known worldwide. The introduction of Bond is an homage to a technique from William Dieterle’s Juarez (1939): a series of close-ups of the character w/o revealing the face, cross-cutting w/ the other characters in the scene and the gambling table, then the face is revealed as Bond states his name. The filmmakers didn’t know that the way that Bond introduces himself would become iconic; he was jokingly speaking the way Sylvia did!

[James Bond’s first scene, winning a game of chemin-de-fer]

Bond: I admire your courage, Miss…?

Sylvia: Trench. Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr…?

Bond: Bond. James Bond.

Do clothes make the man? Well, many feel that all men look better in suits or tuxedos (which are worn rarely in today’s society). Connery’s suits were made by Saville Row (as Bond says in the movie); the tailor Anthony Sinclair stated that a truly great bespoke suit would be able to stand up to a good deal of abuse (such as grabbing by the lapels) and still look great afterwards. This is one of only 3 times when we see Bond’s apt. Though the film was low budget (est. at $1M), Ken Adam’s created sets which impressed Stanley Kubrick. The young director hired Adams to be production designer on Dr. Strangelove (1964).

[Professor Dent tries to kill Bond, but his gun is out of bullets]

Bond: That’s a Smith & Wesson and you’ve had your six.

[Bond shoots Dent twice]

As a movie critic noted, Bond (unlike most screen heroes before him) is a sexual being. Well, maybe this is a BIT too much for some viewers? Seriously, I don’t know if his (casual) attitude on relationships reflected what was happening in the early 1960s. We meet the first “Bond girls,” who’d become a staple of the series; of course, these female characters have evolved over the decades. Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson) is the woman who Bond meets while gambling. Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny) was actually Canadian; she plays the loyal/classy secretary to M, Moneypenny isn’t a prude, as she obviously enjoys flirting w/ Bond. However, the woman who made the biggest impression was Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress- who was Swiss-born and new to movies). Her salary for the film was only $6,000 Both Gayson and Andress had their voices dubbed; Andress had a thick accent when she spoke English. Andress’ bikini top was made from an underwire bra sold from a Saks in NYC. Costume designer Tessa Welborn ordered 3 of theses bras, covered them in cotton, and refined the design. The belt for the bikini was made from a white webbing Army belt, w/ brass fittings and a scabbard.

It’s a mystery. All I did was wear this bikini, not even a small one, and whoosh! Overnight, I made it.

-Andress

One thought on “The 1st Bond Movie: “Dr. No” (1962)

  1. W/r/t sexual mores — I think you always have to ask when hormonal birth control became available in a respective country. Before that, care-free promiscuity and its cinematic representations is mostly a fantasy. The pill changed everything: it affected birth rates, women’s employment rates and incomes, and eventually helped spark the sexual revolution.

    Liked by 1 person

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