Dr-No-(official)-DI
1962 Running time: 105 Certificate: pg Rating: 4
Dr-No-KA

Synopsis

Sean Connery effortlessly stepped into the bespoke shoes of novelist Ian Fleming's James Bond in the first film of what would become the world's most successful cinema franchise. Pitted against pincer-handed megalomaniac Dr Julius No (Joseph Wiseman), Connery established 007 as a ruthless womaniser, ice-cool killer and sardonic cynic while the movie cast a template - Ursula Andress's bikinied Bond girl, Wiseman's over-ambitious villain and Monty Norman's Bond theme - which has held up for decades.

Director

  • Terence Young

Cast

  • Sean Connery

  • Joseph Wiseman

  • Ursula Andress

  • Jack Lord

  • Zena Marshall

Review

"I admire your luck, Mr...?

"Bond. James Bond."

These immortal lines uttered during a game of chemin-de-fer (which he won, naturally) established both Sean Connery and the character of 007 at the beginning of a world-beating sequence of cinema successes that would see Bond reinvented by no less than six actors.

Connery, a onetime coffin polisher, milkman and sailor, had enjoyed limited big screen success as a deckhand on the Titanic in A Night To Remember, a squaddie in The Longest Day and the hardman role of Johnny Kates in Hell Drivers.

At the time - 1961 - the Bond novels did not enjoy mainstream popularity so the film's producers originally opted for a big name - Cary Grant turned them down - before settling on the untested Connery. They made the right choice.

Despite his Scottish working class background, Connery slid easily into the role of the suave, sophisticated spy who was quite happy to kill in cold blood if the situation demanded it. Or even if it didn't.

His first cinematic mission saw him despatched by MI6 chief M (Bernard Lee) to Jamaica to investigate the murder of a British agent.

Hardly had the superspy-in-waiting touched down when he claimed his first victim - a henchman of Dr No (Wiseman) posing as a government chauffeur - bites into a strychnine-laced cigarette when Bond finds him out.

Hooking up with CIA agent Felix Leiter (Hawaii's Five-O's Jack Lord), Bond becomes suspicious about the goings-on at the mysterious Crab Key, an island feared by the locals and home of the reclusive Dr No.

However, it seems that Dr No is also interested in 007. He sends his henchman Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson) to kill the inquisitive spy...and Bond narrowly escapes death-by-tarantula-bite.

During a second attempt, Dent is caught out by Bond who has counted the number of slugs pumped into a pile of pillows 007 has used as a decoy. "That's a Smith & Wesson and you've had your six," Bond observes...and executes him with a shot to the chest.

Landing on Crab Key, Bond beholds the now iconic scene of Ursula's Andress's conch-collector Honey Ryder emerging from the sea. (her singing voice for Underneath The Mango Tree was dubbed by British actress Diana Coupland, who is most famous for the TV comedy Bless This House).

Captured by Dr No, Honey and Bond as imprisoned in his lair where - over dinner - the villain reveals himself to be a member of SPECTRE - SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and has plans to disrupt the US rocket launches at Cape Canaveral.

All the ingredients that would make the Bond franchise a going concern are present and (politically in-)correct. Apart from the perfect casting of Connery, there's the gun-barrel opening sequence, the concept of "The Bond Girl", the Ken Adam-designed super-sets and even 007's predeliction for a vodka martini "shaken, not stirred."

There's also the first mention of SPECTRE and Wiseman's villain - who lost both his hands in a radiation accident and had them replaced with statuette-crushing steel talons - was a chilling blueprint for that most enticing of roles: the Bond villain.

Of course, it's dated - a Sunbean Alpine isn't exactly cutting edge transport - but the elegant playboy spy with just a whiff of danger was clearly here to stay.

As Bond says "World domination. The same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they're Naploeon. Or God." For the next half century he was about to find out.