After the disappearance of one of his fellow spy buddies, James is sent to Jamaica to investigate. There he eventually stumbles upon the nuclear base of Dr. No, a member of SPECTRE. No’s plan is to disrupt some American rockets with lasers, probably to make us look foolish.
Bond, James Bond:
Sean Connery, in his first of six official appearances. From the start, you can see why Connery became the star he was. He’s suave, handsome and more than a little bit imposing. He does some solid spy work in this, including my favorite moment of him just playing solitaire as he waits for a killer to come to him. Bond is more than a little bit of a misogynist, which you can credit predominantly to the time period (this came out in 1962), but considering that misogyny is far from nonexistent today, it’s still a bit uncomfortable to watch. This is something I’ll be keeping my eye on as these movies progress.
The “James Bond Theme,” Monty Norman wrote the original music for a musical he wrote called A House for Mr Biswas, but John Barry’s arrangement is key here. This is the one that started it all and it is still one of the best. I’ve already ranked the songs, for my own purpose, and this is #7 (of 24, at the time of writing), although I’ll admit this is certainly more memorable and better crafted than some of the ones ahead of it (mostly my #1. You’ll see).
Dr. No, played by Joseph Wiseman. We hear from him way before we see him, but the audible introduction is a strong one. A professor who works for him comes to him during the day, which is against his rules, and his voice echoes throughout a small room. It sent chills down my back.
Also, as a villain, he actually seems like a pretty chill dude. His base, or whatever, functions as a really nice resort, that just happens to double as a nuclear facility being used to disrupt American rockets. The best resorts usually are. But James and Honey (more on her below) are escorted in and quickly scrubbed of any radiation that they were exposed to and taken to some pretty nice suites where they are housed. I wouldn’t mind living in this base, if it weren’t for the radiation. *hand scales motion*
His overall plan is somewhat confusing. He wants to disrupt a space launch. I don’t entirely know why, although I assume it’s to stick it to America. I don’t know. Also, he works for SPECTRE, which is THE villain organization of the Bond franchise. There was some legal drama for a while, where Bond couldn’t fight SPECTRE, or its head, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, its head (and the inspiration for Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil).
Additionally, he has robot hands, which we see in use once, when he crushes a statue. He calls them a misfortune, since he has them because his real hands were damaged because of radiation. Dude, you have robot hands now. If that’s your biggest misfortune, your life is pretty amazing.
There are technically a few, and I’ll save the most important one for last. Before we meet her, we get the introduction of Sylvia Trench (played By Eunice Gayson, with Nikki van der Zyl doing the voice). She and James meet at a baccarat table and have some fun back and forth, and James spends a night with her before the mission proper begins. Honestly, if it weren’t for the James Bonding podcast I cite in the introduction to this whole blog, I don’t think I’d have much to say about her. She plays cards, she sleeps with James. Probably more than I’ll get to say for some other girls he beds.
Miss Taro, played by Zena Marshall- She works for the Government House in Jamaica, which acts as a home base for James, and we eventually learn that she’s actually an agent of Dr. No’s. James takes an invite to her house to be an invitation to kiss her (I had to remind myself of the year as I ground my teeth for a moment here), and they eventually sleep together as Taro kills time for anther No henchmen to arrive and kill James. She ends up bested by James.
Last, but certainly not least, Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress, with Nikki van der Zyl again doing the voice. She is one of the most famous Bond girls, predominantly for the way that she is introduced, striding onto the beach in a white bikini. In general, though, she does not get a lot to do here, except to look pretty, which, again, is a trend I’m anticipating over these movies. She and James end the movie together, kissing in a boat, as James drops the tow line he was holding, so they can have a moment of privacy. I guess his buddies will just come back later, which just seems like an awkward time for everyone involved. Thanks, James.
Dr. No doesn’t really have any henchmen of note so I’ll focus on the people James works with, most of whom will occur many times throughout the franchise.
Quarrell- My favorite character in this movie. He calls everyone captain. At one point, one of Dr. No’s operatives slices his face with a piece of glass, and dude just wipes his hand on the blood, smirks, and asks if he can break her arm. I wish I was that cool. He also refers to a tank with a flamethrower attached to it as a dragon. And then gets incinerated by it. He deserved better. RIP Quarrell.
Bernard Lee as M, the head of MI6 and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny. Both of these characters are huge mainstays to the franchise and they both have strong introductions here. Lee asks Bond when he sleeps, and then is very annoyed as he grumbles at James to use a better gun. Maxwell shows an appropriate but playful longing for James, because he’s James and he’s very attractive. Both don’t have a lot to do in this particular movie, and I’m hopeful we’ll get more time with them in the future.
Jack Lord as Felix Leiter, a CIA agent who occasionally works with James throughout the franchise. Again, Lord does fine here. This is predominantly Connery’s movie, as the introduction to this character should be, but the cast around him does well enough that they aren’t sore thumbs, but don’t get enough to do to really standout. Of the characters I’ve discussed, other than Dr. No, Leiter has the most to do in this movie, and that still isn’t a whole lot. He has an interesting choice in sunglasses though.
Nothing really here. A gun.
Miscellaneous Spy Business:
–The introduction to James is Grade A stuff.
-Movie making has changed ya’ll. Editing for length was not a concern, so, even though this movie is one of the shorter in the franchise, it feels long. There’s lots of shots of just people walking. You see James going through airport security, for some reason. A lot of this is the time, and how movies were made, but I’m in 2017, and this movie was difficult to get through at times because of it.
-SPECTRE is a terrible anagram. Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. The first two letters are from the first word. Not how anagrams work, guys.
-At one point, Dr. No sends a guy to kill(?) James with a tarantula. I don’t know why. It’s just a big gross spider. Who cares?
-This movie’s budget was $1 million. That’s it. Again, movie-making has changed.
007 out of 0010. A fine start. It would probably be higher if I had seen the movie when it came out. The editing/pacing is a bit rough for today’s movie watcher.
TJ Hizer Will Return With: From Russia With Love
Photo Credits: Bond Smoking Honey Ryder Felix Sunglasses Information Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._No_(film) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bond_Theme