Every day this week we will recap each film of the official James Bond franchise (discounting “Never Say Never Again” and the 1967 version of “Casino Royale” — sorry, completists), leading up to our review of “Spectre”. Take a journey with us (and be prepared to be “shaken, not stirred” — yeah, you had to see that joke coming) as we take a look back at over 50 years of James Bond!
Today, we look back at…
DR. NO (1962)
Which one was this again?
What the poster says: “THE FIRST JAMES BOND FILM!”
Or, perhaps more memorably, the one with Ursula Andress as “Honey Ryder”…RAAAAWR:
Bond at his best: ice-cold and deadly. Bond knows he’s being stalked by an assassin, so he sets up his villa to make it look like he’s gone to bed for the evening. When the assassin enters and shoots at pillows covered in sheets, Bond emerges and starts questioning the man. When the man tries to trick Bond by quickly picking up his dropped weapon, only to dry-click when he pulls the trigger, Bond smugly intones, “That’s a Smith & Wesson…and you’ve had your six.” He pulls the trigger, killing his assailant before calmly taking the silencer off his gun and retiring for the night.
The opening scene of 2006’s Casino Royale seems to pay homage to this scene: when Bond’s superior attempts the same trick, he tells Bond, “It’s a shame…we barely got to know each other.” After dry-clicking, Bond comes back with “I know where you keep your gun…suppose that’s something.”
We’ll go classic here:
Bond: I admire your courage, Miss…?
Sylvia: Trench. Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr…?’
Bond: Bond…James Bond.
Actual best line:
James Bond: Moneypenny! What gives?
Miss Moneypenny: Me, given an ounce of encouragement. You’ve never taken me to dinner looking like this. You’ve never taken me to dinner…
James Bond: I would, you know. Only “M” would have me court-martialed for…’illegal use of government property’.
Miss Moneypenny: Flattery will get you nowhere – but don’t stop trying.
The best way I’d describe Dr. No is as follows: had I been introduced to James Bond with this film, I might not have seen the rest of the James Bond films. My first introduction to the franchise wasn’t until the mid-80’s when my Mom showed my brother and I Octopussy starring then-James Bond, Roger Moore. Back then, the goofy gadgets (a digital watch with a GPS tracker, a mini-plane that could be folded up and put inside a horse trailer, etc.) were in full use. The action set pieces were top-notch. So imagine, all those years later, my first viewing of Dr. No: basic, no gadgets to speak of, bursts of down-to-earth action (mainly fist-fights) and dialogue that would have flown far over my head. Nope. Just nope. Seeing it now, yeah, the movie’s compelling. It’s fun and the sets are top-notch (Dr. No’s aquarium lair is stunning even to this day) and the plot and scenery is your typical exotic James Bond adventure. But had I seen Dr. No first, I probably wouldn’t have been so into the series on the whole.
Other interesting things you might not have known:
- Ian Fleming, James Bond’s creator and author of the books the films were based on, hated the film, calling it, “Dreadful”.
- The famous scene with the tarantula in Bond’s bed was done with a stuntman as Sean Connery was afraid of spiders. Bob Simmons, the stuntman involved in the shot, called it “one of the scariest stunts I’ve ever done.”
- Ian Fleming wanted his cousin, the late celebrated actor Christopher Lee, to play “Dr. No”. Lee declined, so Fleming turned to Noel Coward who also declined, citing that he didn’t want to play a goofy villain with with metal hands. Casting directors turn to Max von Sydow — but Sydow turned down the part to play Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told. Lee and Sydow would, eventually, put their stamp on the Bond franchise, playing villains Scaramanga (in The Man With the Golden Gun) and Blofeld (in Never Say Never Again), respectively.
- The reason Dr. No (and not the first, actual James Bond adventure, Casino Royale) was chosen was because the producers thought it was the most straight-forward and least expensive film they could make.
- Due to Ursula Andress’s famous bikini scene, bikini sales skyrocketed. That bikini would sell for 41,000 UK pounds almost 40 years later at Christie’s Auction in London. No affordable clones were available in stores as the bikini’s top was actually a bra purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and was modified by costume designer Tessa Welborn.
- The famous “Gun Barrel Opening”, seen in numerous variations throughout the series, was designed at the last minute by Maurice Binder. He fit a pinhole camera inside an actual gun barrel to complete the shot. Sean Connery did not play Bond in this shot and would not until 1965’s Thunderball.
- Jack Lord, who played Bond’s CIA counterpart Felix Leiter, would be replaced in the role by Cec Linder because producers felt that he was overshadowing Bond. Lord also reportedly demanded more money and screen time as well as equal billing with Sean Connery. After Lord was replaced, he would go on to play the famous role of “Steve McGarrett” in the original Hawaii Five-O. Similar to James Bond character, the role of Leiter has been played by eight different actors across ten different Bond films.
Join us tomorrow when we cover From Russia With Love!