Dr. No (1962)
Dr. No (1962)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.

Release Date: October 5th, 1962 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Terence Young Actors: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson, Zena Marshall, John Kitzmuller, Eunice Gayson, Lois Maxwell

 


 

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t begins in the best possible way – with the booming, jazzy James Bond theme music trumpeting in full gear by the James Barry Orchestra. It switches to neon silhouette imagery of human bodies, the precursor to the sensual nude women figures that would dance across the screen in nearly every other Bond opening title sequence. Although it lacks a distinct, action-oriented cold open, the main character is introduced with his suave, instantly famous catch phrase. “Bond. James Bond,” he states with unsurpassed coolness, while sporting a sharp tuxedo, perfectly coiffed hair, and an assuredly sly grin. Later, he’ll request a martini to be made shaken, not stirred – his soon-to-be signature drink.

British Secret Agent Commander Strangways, codenamed “006,” is killed in Jamaica, forcing the head of MI6, M (Bernard Lee), to assign recently promoted intelligence gathering operative James Bond (Sean Connery) to investigate. He’s been given a license to kill, the designation “007,” and a new concealed weapon – an iconic Walther PPK with silencer (the American CIA swear by them). Upon arriving at the Jamaican airport, he’s spotted and tailed by a mysterious man in sunglasses. After successfully eluding the presumed assassin, Bond journeys to the Government House, where he surveys Strangway’s quarters and meets the businessmen who last saw the missing spy.

Bond discovers a picture that leads him to Quarrel (John Kitzmuller), a fisherman with connections to the sunglasses-wearing agent – who turns out to be CIA functionary Felix Leiter (Jack Lord), working to get to the bottom of a plot to disrupt an upcoming rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. Suspicious geologist professor Dent (Anthony Dawson) is linked to Strangways’ original mission, and pops up repeatedly to dispose of the pesky 007 with ineffective tactics – aided by several inept triggermen. But at the heart of it all, on the remote Crab Key, is spurned criminal mastermind and engineer Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), who waits as Bond inches nearer to his fortress and closer to uncovering his vengeful, terroristic schemes.

He’s unfalteringly charismatic, good with the ladies (“I can assure you my intentions are strictly honorable”), drives a snazzy convertible, orchestrates car crashes in which vehicles spontaneously explode mid-collision, outsmarts the enemies at every turn, and excels at hand-to-hand combat. Bond also never panics, and keeps distress to a minimum. With such a stylish, sophisticated, dashing professional at the helm, it’s no wonder that author Ian Fleming’s creation provided source material for one of the longest-running of all movie series. “Dr. No” also features Ursula Andress making an unforgettable appearance as white-bikini-clad seashell collector Honey Ryder – the first of the poorly scripted, expendable, ridiculously-named Bond girls (and an anticipated staple of the films). Although full of notable scenes and ideas that would fuel dozens of subsequent adventures, this initial episode sports a lesser budget, fewer action sequences, and deficient pacing. It’s like a prototype requiring polishing; and more than twenty subsequent films would keep reshaping and perfecting that template.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10