Dr. No (Doctor No) was the first James Bond movie. In his first ever outing on the silver screen, James Bond would save the world from the nefarious schemes for world domination of Doctor Julius No, evil mastermind and SPECTRE member, in a very 1960s way. Dr. No introduced the world to the secret agent and was the beginning of a revolution.
JAMES BOND – SEAN CONNERY (First Appearance)
|Directed By: Terence Young||Produced by: Harry Saltzman, Albert R. Broccoli|
|Music: Monty Norman||Based On: Dr. No by Ian Fleming|
|Release date: 5 October 1962||Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes|
|Bond Series: 1/24||Distributed by: United Artists|
|Budget: $1.1 million||Gross Revenue: $59.5 million|
|Preceded by: –||Succeeded by: From Russia With Love (1963)|
Ursula Andress as HONEY RYDER is mainly remembered and immortalized for that iconic scene where she emerges from the ocean in her white bikini, ala Botticelli’s Venus. However, the character of the hardly literate, simple girl who gathers and sells seashells for a living and clings to Bond scared and terrified of the bad villains was so convincingly portrayed by Andress that Honey was easily among the most convincing Bond Girl in the series until she was outdone by Eva Green’s Vesper in Casino Royale. She and Connery’s Bond share an incredible chemistry on screen, not seen again until Dalton’s Bond and Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Honey Ryder set the standards to which all future Bond Girls would be measured…
Eunice Gayson as SYLVIA TRENCH was supposed to be Bond’s recurring girlfriend in the series, but this decision was later dropped because Bond is not meant to be tied down to one woman. The glamorous and classy Trench has just around 5 minutes of screen time but she immortalized herself as the beautiful woman in red surrounded by men in black suits around a Baccarat table and introduces us to James Bond, who delivers his introductory dialogue in reply to her “Trench, Sylvia Trench“, and also sets the mold for the famous “woman charmer” part of Bond’s character.
Zena Marshall as MISS TARO is the secretary to Pleydell-Smith but working for Dr. No as an informant. She helps the “Three Blind Mice” to get Bond killed and later when they fail, seduces him and sleeps with him. But Bond sees through her and realizing her treachery, hands her over to the police.
MI6 and OTHER ALLIES
Bernard Lee as M introduces us to James Bond and the concept of 007 in that classic “briefing” scene in his paneled, padded office.
Peter Burton as MAJOR BOOTHROYD (Q): MI6’s “armorer“, the only time Burton plays Q. He hands Bond his iconic Walther PPK in exchange to his Beretta.
Louis Blaazer as PLEYDELL SMITH is the Secretary to the British colonial government of Jamaica and Bond’s local contact.
Timothy Moxon as JOHN STRANGWAYS was the ex-station chief of the British Intelligence (SIS) in Jamaica. He was killed by Dr. No’s assassins, to probe which Bond lands in Jamaica.
John Kitzmiller as QUARREL is a local boatman in Kingston, who was Strangways’ apprentice and later Bond’s and CIA’s local man and helper. Killed by Dr. No’s flamethrower tank.
Jack Lord as FELIX LEITER is a CIA asset who helps Bond in many international assignments.
Lois Maxwell as MISS MONEYPENNY is M’s secretary and appears as always in the “pre-briefing flirting scene” with James Bond.
ANTAGONISTS AND THEIR ANTAGONISM
DR. JULIUS NO (Joseph Wiseman): Dr. No is a brilliant half-Chinese, half-German nuclear scientist who grew up alone and as a broken child. He escaped from China after stealing 10 million worth of Gold from the Tongs, one of China’s notorious underworld gangs. After the Americans and the Soviets refused his services, he became a member of global evil syndicate SPECTRE and offered his expertise to them. He is part SPECTRE’s grand scheme (whatever that is), of world domination and plays his part by toppling NASA rockets. He lives in his massive lair on Crab Key, an island off Kingston, Jamaica which includes a nuclear-powered control and command center. He is cold, absolutely emotionless and expressionless and delivers monologue speeches in typical Bond-villain fashion. He also had lost his hands in radiation accidents and instead has metal prosthetic hands in their place.
PROF DENT (Anthony Dawson) is a geologist in Kingston, Jamaica and one of the elites of the island but also an informant and errand man of Dr. No. He also was a bridge partner of Strangways’, who had given some rocks he collected from Crab Key for analysis. Dent informed Dr. No about Strangways’ snooping about and got him killed. Dr. No asks Dent to kill Bond with a Tarantula, and when that fails he tries to shoot Bond but walks into his trap and is captured by Bond, interrogated and executed by him.
THE THREE BLIND MICE: Three Jamaican locals, assassins on hire who walk around disguised as three blind beggars and otherwise drive a LaSalle Hearse van. They kill Strangways and his secretary and later try to kill Bond also, all on orders from Dr. No, but are killed when their hearse falls into a ravine while chasing down 007.
VILLAIN SCHEME: “Topple” or throw launched NASA/USAF space launch rockets off-course using deflector radio beams and then probably retrieve them, as part of some grand scheme of SPECTRE for world domination.
DR. NO 007 FACTSHEET
CARS: Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible, Sunbeam Alpine (Bond), LaSalle Hearse (Three Blind Mice), Ford Anglia 105E (Strangways).
LOCATIONS: London, UK; Kingston, Jamaica.
BOND GADGETS: Walther PPK, Geiger Counter.
007 DR. NO STATISTICS
“Bond, James Bond” 1.5 | Martinis 2 | Women in Bed 3 | Direct Kills 5 | Fights 3 | Chases 2 | Tight Spots 4 | Captures 1 | Escapes 2
DR. NO TRIVIA
Other than the obvious firsts,
- The first of only two movies whose title is the name of the main villain
- Christopher Lee was considered for the role of Dr. No before it went to Wiseman. Lee would later play Francisco Scaramanga, the villain of The Main With The Golden Gun.
- The only James Bond movie to open without the customary pre-title sequence.
- The only James Bond movie to feature the theme music in the title credits.
- The shortest James Bond movie title name.
- The Ursula Andress Bikini Scene was paid tribute for in Die Another Day by Halle Berry and in Casino Royale by Daniel Craig.
VERY PUNNY, MR.BOND (Bond Quotes from Dr. No)
Bond: “Bond, James Bond.”
M: “When do you ever sleep, 007?”
Bond: “Never on the firm’s time, sir”.
James Bond: “Sergeant, make sure he doesn’t get away.” [That guy was dead]
Miss Taro: What should I say to an invitation from a strange gentleman?
James Bond: You should say yes.
Bond: [After the assassins’ hearse crashes into a ravine, killing them] “I think they were on their way to a funeral!”
Bond: [To Honey standing on the beach in a bikini] “I can assure you, my intentions are strictly honorable.”
Dr. No: “East? West? Just points on a compass. Each as stupid as the other.”
James Bond: “World domination. The same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon. Or God.”
- The first James Bond movie
- James Bond’s introduction
- Ursula Andress’ Honey Ryder, and especially for the Bikini scene.
- The entire sequence on the beautiful Crab Key beach.
DR. NO PLOT AND STORYLINE (Caution, Spoilers!)
In Kingston, Jamaica, British intelligence station chief John Strangways and later his secretary are murdered by an assassin trio called the “Three Blind Mice”. In London, M orders James Bond, 007, to travel to Jamaica and find out what had happened and if all this had any connection to the incidents involving NASA’s moon rocket launches, which were repeatedly being “toppled”. At Kingston, Bond survives a kidnapping attempt at the airport. Later, he finds a geological receipt at Strangways’ place and learns that he used to visit offshore islands. Strangways’ boat driver, named Quarrel, turns out to be working with Felix Leiter of the CIA and tells Bond that they had brought back some rocks and sand from an island named Crab Key. Realizing that Strangways had given these rocks to Professor Dent for examination, Bond confronts him only to be told that those rocks were just ordinary iron pyrites, which does not convince him. Prof Dent then travels to Crab Key where he is told by a voice over an intercom (Dr. No) in no uncertain terms to kill Bond. He tries, but Bond escapes again.
Pleydell Smith informs Bond that Crab Key is owned by an eccentric Chinese scientist named Doctor No who was using it for unknown purposes. Bond catches Smith’s secretary Miss Taro listening at keyhole and persuades her to accept an invitation for a date. On his way to her place he is ambushed by the Three Blind Mice but again manages to escape as the assassins’ car veers off the road and crashes into a ravine. Miss Taro receives instructions over phone to delay Bond at her house until someone else can arrive and kill him. So she seduces Bond and they have sex. Later, Bond confronts Taro of her treachery and hands her over to the commissioner. Dent arrives to kill Bond but walks into Bond’s trap who executes him after interrogating him about Dr. No. Bond also manages to find Strangways’ rocks and discovers that they are radioactive, indicating something not really legal is going on at Crab Key.
Bond and Quarrel clandestinely arrive at Crab Key where they meet Honey Ryder who has also ventured to the off-limits island to collect sea shells. After evading them for an entire day, Quarrel is killed and Bond and Ryder are captured by Dr. No’s men. They are then “decontaminated” (apparently the mud on Crab Key is radioactive), and housed in some luxurious quarters, where they fall asleep after drinking drugged coffee. On waking up, Bond and Ryder are taken to meet Dr. No over dinner, who reveals that he a member of a terrorist organization named “SPECTRE” whose ultimate goal is world domination, and the nuclear energy and toppled rockets and all were part of a plan for achieving this goal. He tries to recruit Bond who declines. Beaten up and imprisoned in a cell, Bond escapes by crawling through ventilation ducts and ultimately reaches Dr. No’s control center, where they are in the process of trying to disrupt the Project Mercury launch. Bond disguised in an anti-radiation suit overheats the reactor core sending it into meltdown and disruption of the facility. An enraged Dr. No fights him above the reactor cage but dies when he loses grip and slides into the coolant tank. Fleeing the facility, Bond manages to locate Honey and they escape the exploding island in an outboard. Later the boat runs out of fuel and Bond and Honey make love in the boat.
DR. NO, SHAKEN AND STIRRED (REVIEW)
I am no one to review a 1962 movie, it would be another 18 years before I would be even born. But still, Dr. No is one of those golden oldie classics, James Bond apart. Even in those days, it must have stood apart from the regular Cary Grant type films with its fresh and path breaking concept, presenting a slew of relatively fresh faces, introducing the world to a genre that was not established yet, on a scale rarely seen before. Looking at it 54 years later, it exudes an old-worldly charm of how things were in a world much different from what it is today, of a time when encrypted communication required a bookshelf full of equipment, espionage was old-fashioned – more human, as Ian Fleming envisaged in his books – when spying was more talk and less action, where smooth talking spies suavely gathered intelligence over polished poker tables and in posh hotel beds whose soft sheets covered the maiden’s breasts but left the hairy chest bare, but when danger was as explosive as it is today. An in those premises, Dr. No delivered spectacularly. It combined the elements of the movies of those days and added something extra to it, “cooking up” the “James Bond” genre. But all said, Dr. No was still a regular thriller compared to other Bond movies, given the absence of ingredients like cars and gadgets, but there was no “Bond movies” when it came out.
Dr. No is an out-and-out Sean Connery movie. He towers over the movie like a colossus, being its whole and soul, carrying it all on his broad shoulders, reducing the eponymous villain to just a fleeting mention. It is nobody else’s movie. And he plays James Bond to the hilt, typecasting the character for ever, including all the little bits like that smirk, the way he holds the pistol, that swagger and that twinkle in the eye and that aloofness and devil-may-care attitude. In typical “old movies” fashion, the actors present their roles in a “stiff” fashion, on the face and in bursts with dialogues really looking rehearsed and they sitting around and making no bones that they are acting”, complete with the old-timey “rear-projection car chase” which looks laughable today. And of course, there is the whole “continuity” thing, where scenes seem to be detached from one another, looking “detached” from preceding and succeeding ones. But this hardly mattered then, there were hardly any reviewers out there checking if the hero’s patch bandage had moved from the left to the right of his forehead in successive scenes.
The best thing about Dr. No was its freshness and its presentation with its liberal application of the Bond theme everywhere, right from his introduction, the greatest ever. Dr. No did not have any expectations to live up to or the pressures of having to up on the previous installation: Terence Young and his crew had a clean slate to present Bond whatever way they wanted to – and they succeeded spectacularly – in the most possible, perfect fashion. The locales are stunning and breathtaking, especially the Crab Key shots with Bond and Ryder, and the sets are typical old-fashioned paper-mache and assembled furniture stuff. However, the let down of the movie is the unclear villain plot. SPECTRE is introduced as the overarching evil global criminal syndicate, but do not know anything of their details or what SPECTRE’s world domination plan is, and what Dr. No intends to do with the toppled rockets (Though we will in From Russia With Love). The most underwhelming part of the movie is the dinner, which was given such buildup as an answer to the questions the entire movie was posing all along. In fact, if you ask me, this is the biggest shortcoming of all Bond movies – the villains, their organizations, allegiances, motives and plot details are never satisfactorily explained. This is the single-most factor that has brought down many otherwise great movies like Octopussy and Quantum of Solace.
THE LEGACY OF DR. NO
Dr. No started it all. It was the kind of pathbreaking event that changes everything. Dr. No didn’t just set the standards for all James Bond movies of the future, but also all spy movies of the future; it etched in our minds the profile of a “secret agent” – the infallible, sophisticated, unwavering, indefatigable gentleman superspy – how he works, thinks, acts and behaves, how the world of spies and intelligence works, in a stereotypical way of course – it does not matter if all that was how the world of espionage really operated. Dr. No set the standards for everything in the Bond movies: James Bond, the Bond Girls, Miss Moneypenny, the emotionless, monologous and megalomaniac villains with their convoluted world-domination schemes and ridiculously elaborate “command center” lairs, overtly majestic and opulent set pieces and locales and so on. The cars and gadgets would not become mainstream until Goldfinger though. Dr No presented James Bond to us how we would know him for the next 42 years: the charming, witty, sophisticated, emotionally unavailable, chain-smoking, alcoholic, egoistic, misogynist, womanizing world-saver with a license to kill and dressed to kill in his tuxedos and Saville Row suits; with an encyclopedic knowledge of anything under the sun, while being mysterious and enigmatic at the same time.
James Bond, all suited up sitting at a table along with the who’s who of London wins a game of Baccarat against a beautiful dame, accepts a coded message from a courier of his spy agency, smooth-talks the lady into having sex with him and embarks on the most dangerous mission to save the world, with the Bond movie theme song playing in the background all the while. This figure who could drink enormous amounts of alcohol, drive the best cars, have sex with countless women, had a repository of endless knowledge and could kill whoever he want while living the highest of the high life would get stuck in the world’s collective mindset as the portrait of the ultimate alpha-male, the man every man secretly wanted to be. And it all started with Dr. No. There is no greater legacy. The entire James Bond series, even after the reboot, is the legacy of Dr. No.
PROS: Sean Connery, Honey Ryder and her bikini, Locales, First Bond movie.
CONS: Unclear plot.
BONDSCALE: 6th Best Out of 22 Movies; 7 and a Half Stars out of 10