British secret agent James Bond (Sean Connery) has been sent to the West Indies by Military Intelligence agency chief “M” (Bernard Lee) to investigate the disappearance of undercover agent John Strangways (Timothy Moxon) and his secretary. Once arriving Bond meets with local fisherman Quarrel (John Kitzmuller) who’s knowledge of the island lead bonds investigations to suspicious scientist Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson) and the mysterious Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman) who Strangway was investigating shortly before his disappearance. Joining forces with CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) who believes Dr. No is responsible for disrupting several rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, and with another scheduled to take off in a few days, they want to ensure he doesn’t interfere again. Bond and Quarrel head to the Island of Crab Key where he meets the beautiful Honey Rider (Ursula Andress), who occasionally sneaks onto Crab Key to gather up sea shells. Honey agrees to take them to Dr. No’s facility where Bond discovers the evil plan of the nefarious Dr. No, but something bigger is at play!
Based on the 1958 novel “Dr.NO” by Ian Fleming the movie follows quite close to the novel with minor changes for adaptation. Dr. No is where it all started for Bond on the big screen. The opening sequence, where we’re looking down the barrel of a gun as Bond strolls in and outdraws us, Monty Norman’s now-iconic theme, the bond girls, Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) and of course the most memorable line of dialogue in the history of movies. “Bond, James Bond”. Sean Connery is by far everyone’s favourite Bond, ruthlessly hansom mixed with a dark dry wit and coated with a veneer of sophistication. Reading the books he is the closest to the vision I had imagined. Dr. No is a spy noir movie, not too many gadgets and playing on the agent with a mission who uses cunning wit and ingenuity rather that silly tricks and fancy gadgets. Bond manages to bed three women and kill 8 men during the mission, all in a day’s work! Something that must always be remembered with early Bond movies is that they are classic films. They must be viewed with that regard, remembering the time they were filmed and that the world is a very different place 50 + years ago.
Why did I choose this movie, well it is good to start at the beginning! Dr. No is the sixth novel by Fleming but the producers Albert “Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman chose Doctor No as the movies start of point, and turned to director Terence Young as the man who would take Bond from the written page and turned him into a living, breathing cultural icon. Sean Connery was only 30 years old when stepping into the role, that’s younger than I am now but watching the movie he feels older, Guess that says something for my maturity level! Fleming considered that his step-cousin, Christopher Lee, would be good for the role of Dr. No, however the producers had already chosen Joseph Wiseman for the part. The theme song for Dr No is simply the “James Bond Theme” composed by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry, however “Underneath the Mango Tree” will get stuck in your head by the end. The movies pace is slow compared to its counterparts but it is far from dull, in fact it’s something I found endearing. It sets a scene to fall into, a long slow fuse that burns brighter to the final explosion. It is an easy to revisit classic that paved the way for a movie series that has spanned 50+ years at the cinema. I am looking forward to watching the rest of these movies again… James Bond will return in From Russia with Love.