The Super Villain has metal hands and an atomic-powered radio beam. That alone is enough to warrant Dr. No‘s legendary status within the canon of cinema – but this is the film that launched a franchise that’s defined the action genre for more than one generation, and indeed, the film that launched Sean Connery into silver screen history. Dr. No is the root of all Bond, and as such, Bond owes Dr. No BIG time.
Based on Ian Fleming’s 1958 novel of the same name, this was the world’s introduction to the life of James Bond. It’s proper, then, that we meet James for the first time in Le Cercle Card Club in London, playing a game of Baccarat with Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson – one of the few Bond girls to appear more than once in the series). But James is called away from the table for an immediate briefing with “M” (you know you want to be known only by a letter). Turns out John Strangways, the British Intelligence Station Chief of Jamaica, has been murdered by notorious assassins the Three Blind Mice. Golly.
Bond is rushed to Jamaica to investigate the murder (oh don’t worry, he didn’t forget to sleep with Sylvia Trench before he left), and thus begins the franchise’s love affair with exotic destinations for Bond to run around and blow up.
After plenty of flapping about (literally half the film), including finding a tarantula in his bed (not a euphemism), Bond finally gets wind of some mysterious goings on in Crab Key. There’s the original obligatory car chase, which sees Bond outmanoeuvre the Three Blind Mice, filmed with a green screen and some insanely awful acting from Sean Connery as he ‘pretends’ to drive at high speed. It’s classic stuff. But arguably the most classic sequence that Dr. No offers is the infamous introduction of Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) when she gets out of THAT sea, in THAT swimming costume, and swings her hair around in a way that gets ANYONE a little weak kneed. The title bad guy is just as legendary, as Dr. No, the man with metal hands (just one of many Bond villains whose deformity is symptomatic of sinister intent) reveals that he is a member of the international criminal/espionage organisation SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), and that he plans to disrupt a space launch at Cape Canaveral with his atomic-powered radio beam.
Bond then manages to single handedly overthrow an ENTIRE army of henchmen and scientists, including Dr. No with his bone crushing hands, and foil the evil doers’ plans before sailing into the sunset with Honey Ryder.
Whilst 007 is currently being modernised by Daniel Craig et al. – a modernisation which is long overdue – the original films of the Bond series like Dr. No have gained an added glint to the charm in their aged eye. The sexism is rife. The acting is terrible. Things blow up for NO reason at all. Films will never be made like this again, simply because when they’re made like this today they’re fully aware of their own poor taste. This is Bond as Bond has been for the better part of 50 years. No other franchise has ever managed to perpetuate the joys of being a ‘boy’ quite so well, and Dr. No sets a bench mark that had to be reached after time and time again. If you believe you have any claim to being a film buff but haven’t seen this film, then I assure you, you’re one title away from true buff-dom.