It’s time to embark on a voyage through time. I’m going to watch every official James Bond film over the coming months, in order, with my probably-soon-to-be-ex girlfriend. She hasn’t seen them so it’s an excuse. That’s 23 films, the goal being to get to Skyfall just before the release of the 24th film, Spectre, in November.
Dr. No is where it all began in 1962. Yes there had been other adaptations and of course the whole idea is based on Ian Fleming’s novels, but this is where someone sat down and decided they wanted to make a series of films based on the character.
The film has the bare essentials of what we know and love about Bond. Connery has the charm and brute force that makes the character yet he’s still finding his feet with the women, the jokes and cheesy lines.
There’s a typical Bond villain, scantily clad women, a great score and lots of tension. However, it all lacks panache. Dr No is caught in a world between fantasy and realism, which seems par for the course in a Bond film, but instead of being fun it’s a little awkward at times.
The plot is fairly dull too - what starts off as an interesting murder mystery ends in somewhat of an anti-climax. There’s an attempt to cash in on cold-war paranoia but even that never really goes anywhere. It feels a lot like Bond has wasted his time.
There are some strong elements though. The set design is outstanding and as we’ll see in the coming films, really sets the tone for the franchise. The camera work and cinematography also are second to none. Young borrows a lot from Hitchcock and Film Noir and it’s very effective.
Lest we forget Ursula Andress’ bikini. It’s an iconic outfit in a very memorable scene, one that sets the film apart from others of its ilk. This is provocative imagery, even to this day. It’s a way to fill cinemas perhaps, but its bravado is a reflection of Bond’s character.
Were it not for all the films to come Dr. No might have been forgotten over time. It’s just not very good! However, it’s the genesis of the biggest franchise of all time and lays the foundations for one of the most well known characters in cinema. That alone gives it enough to maintain my interest.