Dr. No (1962)

“East, West — just points of the compass, each as stupid as the other.”

Dr No Poster

Synopsis:
British secret agent James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Jamaica to investigate the mysterious death of a colleague, and soon learns that a villainous Chinese scientist named Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) is secretly working on a plan to prevent American rockets in Cape Canaveral from launching.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, “the James Bond series started in great style with this cleverly conceived adaptation of Ian Fleming’s enjoyable spy thriller“, directed by Terence Young; in hindsight, seeing “how much the series has changed” over the years, it’s clear (as Peary notes) that “bigger isn’t better”. Peary points out that “little-known Sean Connery became a superstar as the dashing, debonair British agent 007”, who was “a great new type of hero”, a man who “knew judo; was a well-educated gentleman; had great taste in clothes, food, and wine; … traveled to exotic locations; didn’t panic when the fate of the world rested on his shoulders; [and] had charm and a subtle sense of humor” — all in addition (naturally) to bedding beautiful women and causing “John Barry’s famous Bond theme song to play just by giving his name”. Indeed, Connery is — as many have argued over the years — simply the best (and perhaps the most handsome) Bond around; he’s consistently compelling to watch onscreen.

The film itself — despite what Peary refers to as a “slow stretch in the middle” (I’m not sure I agree) — is great fun and “works marvelously”; it may be “material for an old-style serial” but never deteriorates to a “juvenile level”, and marvelous use is made of location settings in Jamaica. With plenty of “sex, violence, wit, terrific action sequences, and colorful atmosphere”, one can’t help staying happily engaged throughout — especially since “Connery, bikini-clad Andress (who became a sex-symbol star), and Wiseman all give memorable performances”. In his review, Peary accurately points out some of the film’s most notable highlights, which “include the ‘three blind mice’ opening, Bond having a tarantula crawl on him, Honeychile’s [Andress’s] first appearance, [and] Dr. No’s demise”. Speaking of Honeychile, bodacious Andress in her skimpy white bikini is a true stunner — a cinematic goddess whose character may be a bit too calculatedly primitive, but is ultimately a fitting companion for Bond as he navigates his way through Dr. No’s lair. Though Bond beds two girls before her — including the alluring Eurasian “Miss Taro” (Zena Marshall) — she wins full points as the first official “Bond girl”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Sean Connery as James Bond
    Dr. No Connery3
  • Ursula Andress as Honeychile
    Dr. No Andress
  • The iconic title sequence
    Dr. No Opening Sequence
  • The tense “three blind mice” opening sequence
    Dr. No Three Blind Mice
  • Monty Norman’s unforgettable theme music

Must See?
Yes, of course — for its historical relevance and cult appeal.

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6 Responses to “Dr. No (1962)”

  1. A once-must (along with ‘From Russia With Love’) for its place in cinema history.

    I should mention: I am not a major fan of the James Bond series. In fact, I am generally not a ‘series’ person when it comes to feature films. So, in a sense, this could also apply to the ‘Thin Man’ series. Naturally, particular films become popular, so there’s money to be made, so they will turn into a series. In most cases, the quality of the original idea begins to dwindle. The main idea can’t really be stretched, even if the main character/couple/cast members have enduring personalities.

    Obviously, I’m not stating anything new with that. But it’s why I’m not a ‘series’ fan.

    My view of something like ‘Dr. No’ is from the standpoint of an average film fanatic, rather than a James Bond enthusiast. From that end, I think ‘Dr. No’ and ‘From Russia With Love’ certainly (as I recall) cover the bases for what is best about Bond. I saw both films not that long ago – both on blu-ray – and they both look fine, if not spectacular blu-ray editions. They’re certainly interesting/compelling enough to take in for the sake of their places in cinema history.

    (I also saw ‘Goldfinger’ not that long ago, and found it more or less a bore. For example, for the longest time in the film, absolutely nothing happens. Its set-up is among the slowest in a film of its kind.)

    Indeed, ‘Dr. No’ has Andress and Wiseman as clear assets. Personally, while I like Connery in this role…at the same time, he’s a little too ‘Cary Grant’ for me, in terms of sexual allure. I’d read that, at one point, Oliver Reed was considered for the role. *That* I personally would have preferred: a somewhat more-dangerous demeanor combined with a darker (but still humorous) sexuality. But that’s me – and thousands love Connery, so who am I to quarrel with them?

    Peary includes 16 (!) titles – including the parody ‘Casino Royale’ – in his book. I certainly don’t think a film fanatic needs to see all of them, but obviously Bond fans will want to be completists (even if their enjoyment level will vary with each film).

    Note: I have not seen most of these Bond films since their initial release. I’m prepared to alter my thoughts on whether any others in the series are, indeed,
    must-sees…but my sense at this moment is to go with what my gut feels about the series.

  2. I watched the entire Bond series a number of years ago (in chronological order, naturally — I think many do that) and would certainly say that watching all 16 is a much larger endeavor than most film fanatics need to undertake.

    As I rewatch the series to review each title for this site, I will have the interesting task of deciding which — and how many — should be considered “must see”, if one had to be selective. I HOPE I’ll be able to whittle the list down to no more than four at most; we’ll see!

  3. Full disclosure: I’m a Bond fanatic. Not all Bond films are essential viewing. I argue that most of the Pierce Brosnan ones are forgettable. That said, Peary reviewed all of the Bond films released up to that date in the book, including the non-Broccoli produced spoof Casino Royale and Connery’s reboot of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again. So, Peary thought enough of the series to cover them all.

    Dr. No is still loads of fun to watch fifty-plus years on, long after the monster budget at-bats that followed and turned the series into a thoroughly bloated one. All Bond movies are B detective movies with an A budget. The best ones have stories to match the spectacles, or if not, at least have a certain style and wit. Dr. No’s story is pretty standard, but the visuals and charm are thoroughly enjoyable.

    I think the producers wisely went with Connery, clearly his presence and affectations under the tutelage of Terence Young laid the foundation to launch into more ambitious projects over time. It’s hard to imagine the “Bond, James Bond” intro going anywhere with anyone else saying it.

    Essential viewing: this, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Man with the Golden Gun. the Spy Who Loved Me.

    Peary thinks Goldfinger is the best. I disagree, OHMSS is a great production even without Connery, but has the best story, lacks the gadgets, has the best soundtrack, and provides a classy departure from the gargantuan Bond plots of that time and beyond (like Moonraker).

  4. ADMIN: If you’ve watched all of the Bond films then you should be putting the reviews up here, at least up to and including A View to a Kill (1985) because the book that inspired this site covered all of those (and the two non-EON Bonds). I was wondering why they hadn’t appeared.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    The first Bond remains one of the better films in this wonderful series, and is certainly a must see (as are most if not all of them). Wiseman is a great villain and Connery is far and away the best interpreter of the part. That said, I enjoy all iterations of the role.

  5. From Admin: I have watched all the Bond films listed in the book, but want to re-watch them before posting reviews. Stay tuned! They will show up. They are listed here:

    http://filmfanatic.org/reviews/wp-static/genres.html#jamesbond

  6. I look forward to the reviews!

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