Wednesday, October 6, 2010


In case nobody noticed, yesterday marked the 48th anniversasry of James Bond's first big screen appearance. The movie, of course, was Dr. No. It had its premiere in London on October 5, 1962.
Somewhat ironically, unaware at the time that its anniversary was near, a couple nights ago I was channel-surfing and came upon Dr. No just as it was beginning. I settled back with a Diet Coke (neither shaken no stirred) and got caught up in it immediately. It was the first time in several years I had watched the film in its entirity (even though I have it in my DVD collection).
It holds up very well. I was especially struck by how tight and tough the story-line and the characterization of Bond was. This is the one where one of the secondary bad guys tries to shoot James in his bed and instead only empties his gun on a pile of pillows and blankets arranged to look like there's somebody sleeping there. Springing out of the shadows to close the trap, Bond knocks the guy to the floor and when the villain tries firing at him again with the empty gun, James cooly notes: "That's a Smith & Wesson ... and you've had your six." He then nonchalantly dispatches the baddie with a single shot to the head.
This was shocking stuff back in the day and helped set the stage for the Bond phenomenon that was to follow. Many traditions were set in that very first movie: The Bond musical theme; the "down the gun barrel" opening; the first "Bond Girl" (stunning and statuesque Ursela Andress - a mighty hard act to follow); and, of course, Sean Connery as the template for all future actors playing Bond to strive for (so far none have made it).
A funny bit of trivia about this movie: When the print was sent to Japan for dubbing and subsequent release it was marked as Dr? No and so the title when it was first released in Japanese came out as No, We Do Not Need a Doctor.
All and all, if you haven't seen this film in a while and have it on DVD or happen to run across it while channel-surfing (on cable, where it won't be chopped and interrupted) take time to give it another viewing. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


CJ said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on Dr. No. Sadly, Ian Flemming died shortly after the studio made From Russia With Love. Because of this, the studio found they only had the rights to the Bond titles, and not the novels themselves. For whatever reason (greedy heirs, greedy studio, who knows), at that point they decided to simply make things up for themselves, and the intensity, sophistication and brilliant understanding of storytelling to be found in the novels was lost, and the series got increasingly insipid over the decades to follow.

But, Dr. No and From Russia With Love stand the test of time. They are two of the best spy movies ever made, and Connery certainly deserves the career he carved out for himself from them (it certainly didn't come from making Darby O'Gill and the Little People which he starred in at the same time).

wayne d. dundee said...

Chris - Sounds like we're totally in sync on this. NO and RUSSIA were definitely the high water mark of the series. I liked GOLDFINGER (and a few others - for different reasons) but I quickly recognized that GF marked the start of the departure into more and more outlandish plots ... now I know why.
Connery's most significant role prior to DN was as a very nasty villain in TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE (which, coincidentally, was one of the two best Tarzan movies ever made - the other being TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT - both of these were tough and tight and made for adults without the silly chimp hijinks of too many others). The producers wanted Connery to play another villain in MAGNIFICENT but he told them he was unavailable because "a couple guys have optioned me for some spy movie - but I'll be happy to appear in your next." Well, the spy movie was DR. NO and the rest, as they say, is history.
By the way, everybody, "CJ" is C.J. (Chris) Henderson, and old pal and a fine writer. You can learn more about him by visiting his web site at and then be sure to check out some of his work.