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Film Review: Dr. No

Updated on December 17, 2016

Background

In 1962, Terence Young directed Dr. No, based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. Starring Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, and John Kitzmiller, the film grossed $59.9 million at the box office off of a $1.1 million budget.

Synopsis

After a British agent and his secretary are murdered in Jamaica, James Bond is sent to investigate. Along the way, he finds help from CIA Agent Felix Leiter and a boatman named Quarrel, Soon, he meets Honey Ryder and discovers plans by Dr. No to disrupt the Project Mercury space launch.

Review

As the first in a series of movies, Dr. No was a great way to introduce audiences to the character of James Bond. His introduction provides a perfect establishing character moment of who Bond is. He’s gambling, smoking, charms Sylvia Trench and winds up giving a hefty chunk of his winnings as a tip. It shows that he's a cool and sophisticated gentleman who likes to do things simply for the risk and has quite a way with the ladies. Further, after he’s given his assignment, he returns home to find Trench in his apartment and decides to make a night of it before heading off to Jamaica, adding to his character that he’ll always pause at the sight of a beautiful girl and the slightest hope of getting some. His collectedness also helps as a secret agent. When he realizes someone is after him, he makes a dummy out of pillows and just waits for the assassin while playing cards. When said assassin arrives, Bond shoots him coldly, demonstrating that he has no misgivings about making use of his Double 0 license to kill.

Honey Ryder is also good as one of the first Bond Girls. In her quest to collect sea shells from Dr. No’s base, she shows that she’s really not afraid of the place or the guards. Her Having a big knife on her person doesn’t hurt either and suggests that she's able to hold her own in a fight. She's never shown using it though and that's all the characterization that's given as she doesn't really have anything to do in the final moments of the film nor with Dr. No's defeat, seeing as she is dragged away before then. After Dr. No is defeated though, Bond finds her which presents a good moment to end the film on.

As a villain, Dr. No is pretty interesting, especially with his mechanical hands. He also mostly manages to avert the stupidity that Bond villains in later installments would display. When he has Bond in his power, makes sure that everything can be done to make sure he doesn’t escape and even offers Bond a chance to join SPECTRE, only rescinding it after the latter mocks No all throughout dinner. However, his aversion is only partial as he could have just shot Bond at dinner instead of locking him back up in a cell, but it's quite possible that he didn’t think Bond would attempt to get to the control room through the booby trapped air ducts. His mechanical hands are also his downfall. As he’s trying to escape the boiling radioactive water, he can’t grasp onto anything as his hands and all the surfaces around him are too smooth to grip anything. It’s a good example of a great strength also turning out to be a great weakness.

This film also has a different style of opening than most of the films in the series does. Instead of just one song playing while pretty girls bounce around, there’s three. Two of them are instrumental, with one being the main theme of the series. The first song is put together with blinking, colored dots that are synced along with the music and the second has the dancing women, but they’re colored outlines instead of the creative silhouettes the series is known for. The final song, “The Three Blind Mice” plays as the film dissolves from the opening to the plot, following Dr. No’s assassin’s as they make their way to the first British Agent.

3 stars for Dr. No

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion

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