Film Review: Dr. No

Dr. No.

Believe it or not, the only James Bond films I’ve ever seen have all been Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond, which began in 2006 (and even then, I’m not sure I’ve seen 2015’s Spectre yet). However, on the occasion of Sean Connery’s passing at age 90 on Halloween, I wanted to start watching the films, and what better place to start than the 1962 film which started it all, Dr. No? I say all of that to say, my “knowledge” of James Bond is that he’s a spy, he uses gadgets, he always has a “Bond girl,” and he likes his Martini shaken, not stirred (even though from what I understand, that’s not a correctly made Martini). And of course, the classic 007 theme.

The first “Bond girl,” played by Ursula Andress. This shot has it’s own Wikipedia page for how famous the bikini and the shot are to both fashion and cinema. So, my impression below about how revolutionary aspects of this film, including this, were, seems on point.

My first impressions of the film:

  • For 1962, it feels very, for lack of a better word, risqué? I’m not a film expert or a culture expert, but the early 1960s were still much like the 1950s, stuffy and such. Here, Bond is making out with scantily clad women, three in total. But also, it’s rather violent, I have to think, for that time? We see people getting shot, punched, exploded, etc.
  • Bond is rather, again for a lack of a better word, pedestrian still. He’s using a regular American gun with a silencer. He’s mostly just suave, which seems typical of his character, but not quite cunning yet. And his gadgets mostly amount to his fists. Since it’s 1962, the fight scenes are also rather pedestrian, albeit, still fun.
  • As far as action in 1962 goes, I think the car chase scenes, while looking like they were done on a studio at certain points, are still impressive, and even more impressive are the explosions. There are certain shots that were gotten during the chase scenes and explosions I would be fascinated to know they achieved them. So, again, impressive.
  • To reiterate the point, Bond is a bit of a womanizer, huh?
  • The plot was rather hard to follow. The main gist I got of it all was that Dr. No wanted to dominate the world after being rebuffed by both the West and the East, and so he’s going to blow up or sabotage the United States’ missile launches in Florida.
  • My favorite part of the film is when the professor comes to kill Bond, but Bond is ready for him, so the professor shoots at the pillows on the bed thinking it’s Bond. Then Bond’s waiting there in a chair, lights a cigarette, and as he’s doing that, the professor grabs his gun. He tries to shoot at Bond, but the gun is empty. Bond responds, “It’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six.” So cool. That’s Bond!
Bond, James Bond.

Overall, as a first Bond outing, it was neat to see how much the film seemed to me to be pushing the boundaries, establishing the classics of the Bond film, and overall, being a solid spy flick. I also can’t leave this review without remarking upon the fact that Connery was 31-years-old at the time of getting to play one of the most iconic characters in the history of cinema. That’s only a year older than I am! But also, the weird thing about it, is how jarring it is to see young Connery, as I grew up with old Connery, but also, even 31-year-old Connery still looks like he’s in his 40s? He’s one of those people born old, in my estimation.

Oh, and it’s good to know that even James Bond is terrified of spiders.

The main allure of this film is knowing that they’ve set the table, and there’s a lot more they can do with the template, and do, in the coming years.

Another aspect of the James Bond character that’s become legendary is the Aston Martin DB5, but it would take two more films to get there. Here, he’s driving a Sunbeam Alpine.

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