Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

DR. NO (1962) * * *

Ian Fleming's sixth 007 novel, "Doctor No" (1958) was made into the first James Bond movie. DR. NO is a toned down version of the book, and it started the 1960's spy craze. It is one of the best 007 superspy thrillers, with good production values, non-stop action, sex, violence, high-tech hardware, expensive sets, exotic locations, and tongue-in-cheek humour. The film has as many similarities to the source book as it has differences.

British agent John Strangways (Tim Moxon) is murdered and a file marked "Dr. No" is stolen from his home. James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent by M (Bernard Lee) to Jamaica to investigate. He is armed with a Walther PPK to replace his Beretta M1934. After a few attempts on his life, 007 discovers that Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman) is sabotaging American missile launchings from his hideout. Bond meets Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) of the CIA, and beautiful Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), as well as many others who try to kill him.

Honey: "I put a black widow spider underneath his mosquito net... a female, they're the worst. It took him a whole week to die."
(Bond looks shocked)
Honey: "Did I do wrong?"
Bond: "Well, it wouldn't do to make a habit of it."

Dr. No is part of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and Ernst Stavro Blofeld is its leader. James Bond and Dr. No have a fight on a platform above a nuclear reactor. Dr. No, even with his prosthetic hands, is no match for 007, who destroys him near the end of the film. Bond escapes and makes love to Honey Ryder on a raft.

Ursula Andress is the first and most sexy of the "Bond girls". Her voice is dubbed in throughout the movie. Wiseman is the only early Bond villain whose voice is not dubbed in. Originally Ian Fleming wanted Noel Coward to play Dr. No. Coward responded, "Dr. No? No. No. No."

DR. NO introduced many features associated with the 007 movies: the James Bond music theme, the gunbarrel sequence, "Bond girls", exotic settings, narrow escapes, SPECTRE, ambitious villains, sexual innuendos, and Bond's taste for champagne and vodka martinis "shaken, not stirred". This movie is straightforward, economical, tightly paced, and not padded with stunt sequences. It is superior to most 007 movies.

Sean Connery has arachnophobia, a morbid fear of spiders, so the tarantula scene was filmed mostly with stuntmen--who were also frightened by the spider. James Bond's 007 prefix and code name has a meaning: the "00" means "license to kill" and "7" is the number of the agent who has the license to kill. Ian Fleming wrote 12 novels and 9 short stories featuring James Bond, secret agent 007.

Also in the cast are: Zena Marshall (Miss Taro), John Kitzmiller (Quarrel), Eunice Gayson (Sylvia Trench), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny), Peter Burton (Major Boothroyd), Yvonne Shima (Sister Lily), Michel Mok (Sister Rose), Marguerite LeWars (Photographer), Dolores Kator (Mary), Reggie Carter (Jones) Lois Blaazer (Pleydell-Smith), Colonel Burton (General Potter), and many others. The script was written by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, and Terence Young. Terence Young directed.

The jazzy incidental music was composed by Monty Norman and John Barry. As well, there are three good Calypso songs: "Under the Mango Tree", "Jump Up Jamaica", and "Three Blind Mice".

DR. NO is much less flamboyant than its successors and is the only 007 movie without a pre-credits sequence. Cary Grant, David Niven, James Mason, Steve Reeves, Patrick McGoohan, Roger Moore, and others were first offered the part, but fortunately for us they declined. Sean Connery is the coolest James Bond.

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