Dr. No (1962)
May 28, 2015 4:09 AM - Subscribe

A suave and skilled government agent named James Bond looks for answers about a missing colleague and the disruption of the American space program.

This is the 1st James Bond film adventure.

The Wikipedia entry.

Some Top Critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

Dave Kerr, Chicago Reader: "All of the elements of the formula are there, but in pleasing moderation."

Bosley Crowther, New York Times: "Of course, it's nonsense -- pure, escapist bunk, with Bond, an elegant fellow, played by Sean Connery, doing everything (and everybody) that an idle day-dreamer might like to do."

Variety: "An entertaining piece of tongue-in-cheek action hokum."

Time Out: "As memorable as anything in the series."
posted by doctornecessiter (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For me this one epitomizes the "travelogue" appeal of the Bond series, particularly the early ones. The bold brightness of Jamaica in this movie is so appealing to me that that aspect elevates it to being one of my favorite Bond films to watch, even with some silliness and kind of a plodding story.

Digging into a few details:

I really like Quarrel, in spite of the unfortunately stereotypical character traits they give him with the superstitions and the "dragon" late in the movie. His non-reaction when the photographer cuts his face with the broken bulb is pretty great.

Jack Lord: best Felix Leiter, at least until Jeffrey Wright? I don't think think that Wright could pull off those Bono bug-eye sunglasses half as well.

When the officer from the government house is bringing Bond to Strangway's place to go over the crime scene, when they're still outside you can see the "three blind mice" walking down the road waaaay in the background...A dozen viewings of this movie and I'd never noticed that until watching it this week.

On spiders: clearly the filmmakers know something about which spiders are poisonous and which are not, because Honey describes killing someone with a black widow...But then there's that poor tarantula, who was probably crawling up to Bond's ear to explain to him in his quiet little spider voice that there was nothing to worry about.
posted by doctornecessiter at 5:31 AM on May 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

But then there's that poor tarantula, who was probably crawling up to Bond's ear to explain to him in his quiet little spider voice that there was nothing to worry about.

In the book, it was poisonous centipede, IIRC. But I do love the way Connery presses his shoulder against the pane of glass that the tarantula is walking on.

This is indeed one of the best Bond films, and a personal fave!
posted by valkane at 5:38 AM on May 28, 2015

The book also has a fight with an octopus, sorely lacking here.
posted by Artw at 7:11 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Every movie would be improved with an octopus fight. Just ask Ed Wood, or The Goonies.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:25 AM on May 28, 2015

Oh so clunky this film. The guy in the beginning humblebragging about being a Managing Director nearly made me turn it off.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:55 AM on May 28, 2015

He was talking about having a managing director. Would that still be considered a humblebrag?
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:00 AM on May 28, 2015


posted by Chrysostom at 8:19 AM on May 28, 2015

Joseph Wiseman, who played No, had a nickname: The spookiest actor in the American theater, which is so great I can't even stand it.

So I had to learn more. It was critic Robert Brustein writing a review of Arthur Miller's play "Incident at Vichy" at at the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center in New York in December 1964. Brustein also wrote that Wiseman would ideally play Dracula.

Good choice for a first Bond villain.
posted by maxsparber at 8:21 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by Artw at 8:23 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I learned recently that not only was Ursula Andress' voice dubbed in, most of the other female voices were too...and they were almost all revoiced by the same person, Nikki van der Zyl. van der Zyl revoiced a bunch of other women in the next few Bond films, I will have to pay more attention and see if they all sound alike.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:35 AM on May 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

Good choice for a first Bond villain.

And, Dr. No is an awesome villain anyways..... a corrupt stamp collector with metal hands, and his heart on the wrong side! What an awesome metaphor, Fleming was crushing it here.

Just a note, but there's a pretty good Anthony Bourdain episode on netflix where he visits Jamaica and goes to Goldeneye, Fleming's island estate. It's pretty cool to watch if you're a Bond geek (like me).
posted by valkane at 9:02 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just googled this because it was a topic of conversation as we watched this week, as it's obviously very very important. I'd heard that Connery was already bald by the time he starred in Dr. No, which didn't seem quite right if you watch the scenes where his hair is wet...The answer I found, from user Eric Grayson in this Google fan group:

"According to Connery, he had a piece in ALL of the Bond pictures, but a partial one.

His hairline over the forehead was the last to go, and the first to go was the hair on either side of his head. He says that in Dr. No, he had partial pieces at the left and right.

This is borne out if you watch some of Connery's other pictures of the time. If you look at Woman of Straw, it appears he's not wearing a piece there, and his sides are getting fairly thin. In some of the GF [Goldfinger] shots he's not wearing a piece, and you can see the receding.

It got noticeably worse by TB [Thunderball], which required him to wear a wider piece, although he's still sanse piece in the underwater shots (when it's really him).

By DAF [Diamonds Are Forever] his hair was pretty thin and he had to wear a much wider piece, although he still had a fair amount of hair. Look at The Offense or some of the other pictures of that time where he's not wearing a piece at all.

It wasn't until 78 or 79 that he really had to wear an overall piece ala Shatner for movies.

More than you wanted to know... (look up his What's My Line appearance on YouTube and you can see him sans piece in early 1965.)"

Also, on blu-ray his eyebrows seem to have been extended with a pencil to accentuate the arch. He and Sylvia Trench looked like they were about to have an incredulous-eyebrows contest when she showed up at his apartment.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:14 AM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Bond sings!
posted by ogooglebar at 10:32 AM on May 31, 2015

It's interesting to see what is and is not in place in the first film.

Some thoughts:

The gunbarrel intro is there (not Connery!) but the nude women opening credits are not present.

Monty Norman's score is OK but largely unmemorable, John Barry has not taken over yet.

Eunice Gayson plays a girlfriend of sorts, but her character is dropped after the second film.

Note the bit of a joke using the stolen Goya painting in No's lair.

Jack Lord was a nice bit of casting (don't think Leiter's in the novel), too bad they didn't keep him.

Key differences from the book: Honey's torture, no giant squid, no burying No in bat guano, no SPECTRE.
posted by kreinsch at 8:40 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think Felix had been chomped by a crocodile by this point.
posted by Artw at 9:20 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

The scene with Dent in the room as Dr No reveals the tarantula is absolutely gorgeously shot and the voice work by Wiseman is so sinister.

posted by PenDevil at 4:52 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

IIRC they had no money for a more elaborate set so improvised and came up with that.
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on June 1, 2015

First Bond movie I ever saw, and still my favorite. joseph Wiseman is on the short list of Bond villains who's scary in his own right, just as a person, even without his evil plan, superweapons, henchmen, or crime ring.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:45 AM on June 5, 2015

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