Classic Film Review: Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No, 1962

Directed by: Terence Young

James Bond: Sean Connery

Also Starring: Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord

 

Where it all began: Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No. James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another British agent, which ultimately leads him to the underground base of Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), who is plotting to sabotage an early United States space launch. Filled with the theme music which has now became synonymous of the James Bond franchise, the inclusion of characters such as Miss Moneypenny and having a Bond girl (who walks out of the ocean in a white bikini) this film set up nearly everything every other James Bond film would borrow from.

Sean Connery is brilliant as James Bond; he’s cool, calm, confident, cocky, charming and skilful (couldn’t think of another C-word). The throwing of his hat on the hook, the beating up of those who attack him, the cleverness of his plans; Sean Connery’s cool Bond nails them all. However, be it a sign of the times or not, the rest of the cast aren’t quite at his level. There are some terrible facial reactions in this film, notably from Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), the first Bond girl. And there’s one particular scene after a girl snaps a picture of Bond where we see some dancing people in the background; go and check out one man’s dancing . . . hilarious! Most of the others are by-the-by.

But the biggest issue with this film lies in its sound: while the theme tune to the Bond films is brilliant, and is played just often enough where it isn’t repeated to the point of annoyance, there is a horrible recurring problem whereby the film goes completely silent. Now that happens in films, but the difference with Dr. No is that most of the static from the camera’s recordings are left in (so when Bond is sitting silently on a couch you can hear the static in the background), but, then, out of nowhere, and for no more than a couple of seconds, the sound and static completely disappear. It happens so much that it becomes annoying.

That being said, though, the plot of the film is very good, and very well paced. A true old-fashioned spy film where Bond casually struts about and finds clues leading to the villainous headquarters of Dr. No before their final confrontation. Although the fight scenes are terrible (some just take a simple chop to be knocked out, and some feel pretty slow), I accept that this film was filmed in 1962 and they didn’t have the same abilities as modern filmmakers when conducting action scenes. That being said the final fight between Bond and Dr. No is a bit underwhelming.

Aside from a few niggling errors (the biggest being the small gaps in sound), Dr. No is a fine film, and a very good introduction to what would be a massively successful franchise spanning over 50 years in film, 50 countries visited by Bond (and outer space, don’t forget), 390+ people killed on screen, 55 women who have slept with Bond, worked with six different M’s and five Q’s and six Moneypenny’s, played by seven actors and featuring a collective total of 26 films (although two aren’t considered canon to the Bond franchise). A good villain and a good plot, a well paced chase, a brilliant Bond and everything else you could desire in a Bond film.

 

Plot: * * *

Acting: * * *

Writing: * * *

Presentation: * *

Overall Rating: * * ¾

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