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Dr. No (1962)

Main image of Dr. No (1962)
35mm, colour, 105 mins
Directed byTerence Young
Production CompanyEon Productions
Produced byHarry Saltzman
 Albert R. Broccoli
Screenplay byRichard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, Wolf Mankowitz
Original novelIan Fleming
PhotographyTed Moore
MusicMonty Norman

Cast: Sean Connery (James Bond); Ursula Andress (Honeychile Rider); Joseph Wiseman (Dr No); Jack Lord (Felix Leiter); Bernard Lee (M); John Kitzmiller (Quarrel)

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While on a mission to Jamaica, British secret agent James Bond uncovers a plot by a megalomaniac bent on world domination.

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Dr.No (d. Terence Young, 1962) is an efficient and exciting action movie which is a rather unlikely candidate for immortality. But as the film which introduced James Bond, one of the few film franchises to have lasted forty years with few obvious signs of waning public enthusiasm, it is hugely significant. The "British" character of the series has declined in recent years but is very evident in this first film which delights in snobbery, upper-middle class Savile Row chic and the lingering notion that really only the British can be trusted to sort out the problems of the world.

The film also made a star out of Sean Connery, one of the relatively few British actors to have become a genuine Hollywood player and a resourceful, cunning actor who makes Bond simultaneously brutal and sophisticated, a paid killer whose tailored suits are carefully cut to conceal his gun. Connery exudes a frank sexual charisma, revelling in the new permissiveness of 1960s British cinema and happy to kiss and kill with the same relish. Having been tutored in style by director Terence Young, Connery uses his rough Edinburgh background as part of the character, providing an edge which a more poised actor - such as the mooted Cary Grant - might have lacked. He put a personal stamp on Bond which subsequent actors have never been able to remove. The casual misogyny of Bond's character, along with his willingness to shoot an unarmed man, isn't excused or softened here but presented as part of the man. Subsequent Bond films softened both these elements.

Terence Young, a director who did little of note outside the Bond series, marshals his resources with great style, using well chosen Jamaican locations to further the plot rather than for picturesque effect. His staging of the key set-pieces was influential on the later Bond films and on the action genre itself. Editor Peter Hunt deserves much credit for the pace of the film. The look of Dr. No was influential too, thanks to Ken Adam's stylised and witty sets. The decision to use the John Barry Seven to record Monty Norman's 'James Bond Theme' was particularly inspired. Everything which is pivotal to the popular success of the Bond series can be found here, from Maurice Binder's opening gun-barrel motif to the explosive action of the climax, although later series entries lacked the dark, sly humour which is found here.

Mike Sutton

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Video Clips
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Adam, Ken (1921-)
Binder, Maurice (1925-1991)
Broccoli, Albert R. (1909-1996)
Connery, Sean (1930-)
Lee, Bernard (1908-1981)
Young, Terence (1915-1994)
James Bond
James Bond: Sean Connery