MI6 Community Bondathon

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  • Bit late but here are my current rankings

    1) Licence To Kill
    2) The Living Daylights
    3) Spectre
    4) Goldeneye
    5) On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    OMG you are perfect. Will you marry me?

    Each to their own of course, but -- not a single Connery flick in the top 5? Pretty well imperfect IMHO!
  • edited October 2016 Posts: 1,386
    it may even take over TB this time around, as that film is so similar to DN (a perfect mystery and thriller mix fixed in largely one location), just amped up to an even more ambitious degree. I am always wrestling between whether DN or TB deserve the second place spot in the best of the Connery era behind FRWL, so this is never a surprise.

    @0BradyM0Bondfanatic7 You're not alone. I am always trying to decide whether I like DN or TB better too. Those two have probably moved around on my list the most over the years.

  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    edited October 2016 Posts: 28,694
    josiah wrote: »
    it may even take over TB this time around, as that film is so similar to DN (a perfect mystery and thriller mix fixed in largely one location), just amped up to an even more ambitious degree. I am always wrestling between whether DN or TB deserve the second place spot in the best of the Connery era behind FRWL, so this is never a surprise.

    @0BradyM0Bondfanatic7 You're not alone. I am always trying to decide whether I like DN or TB better too. Those two have probably moved around on my list the most over the years.

    @josiah, there's just nothing like early Connery. There's never been such consistent quality in Bond films than the period owned by Sean's first four. Add in OHMSS and it's impossible to top the 60s era.


    By the way, folks, as it is Monday now for a great many of us, we can begin discussing Dr. No in detail.

    Remember, today's discussion points are these:

    Monday:

    Mondays will be a day to focus on the characters and performances in each Bond film, and on that day we will discuss-

    Bond and actor performance
    Bond girl/s and performance
    Bond henchman and performance
    Bond villain/s and performance
    Supporting cast performances (M, Moneypenny, Q, allies, minor characters, etc)
  • edited October 2016 Posts: 3,564
    Well, I've just finished watching Dr. No -- for what? The 10th time? The 12th? Frankly, I've lost count, but every time I watch it, I'm just amazed at how well Eon did with the Bond franchise their first time out of the box. They started with a great adaptation of one of Ian Fleming's best novels (the first script of many with input by Richard Maibaum,) chose the perfect director to helm it (Terence Young,) added one of the most innovative set designers in the history of movies (Ken Adams,) and then assembled a truly stellar cast of actors (Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, John Kitzmiller, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Anthony Dawson, Eunice Gayson, and many more) to bring it convincingly to life. Monty Norman contributed a classic James Bond theme (with significant input from John Barry) and the series is up and running.

    I'm not going to claim that this film is perfect -- there are some minor imperfections in this sparkling gem, and we'll be getting to those later this week -- but in 1962, no one was expecting people to be able to re-re-re-watch the film 50+ years later, freeze-framing it to make sure of capturing every little detail. The point is, with a relatively minuscule budget and the equipment of 50 years ago, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman got so much classic material onto 140 minutes of screen time that today we are beginning one more celebration and analysis of the franchise they brought into being, featuring the most famous secret agent in the history of fiction. Great job, one & all! Thanks for all the entertainment you've brought us, and here's to 50 years more!
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
  • JohnHammond73JohnHammond73 Lancashire, UK
    edited October 2016 Posts: 4,151
    Monday already, these weekend go way too quickly. Anyway, following the timetable, here are Mondays’ views. Hope they read ok because I’ve never been great with my writing but, hey ho, here it is. Cheers.

    Bond and actor performance


    Sean Connery set such a high standard straight off with Dr No. He comes across as very confident, very cool and a very smooth operator. In fact, the standard is set in the very first scene we see him and he utters those immortal words. “Bond, James Bond”. The stories of Connery being nervous for this scene could almost seem far-fetched with how great it went. His performance throughout, for me, one of his best. One scene that I do like (and it’s not one of the most memorable scenes in any Bond move) is the one where he is having a drink, and asking questions about Strangways, with Pleydell-Smith, Prof Dent and General Potter. I don’t know what it is about that little scene that I like but I think it’s because of Bonds’ reaction to answers. I’m not very good with words and trying to explain is difficult but there’s something there I really like about Connery. Anyway, I think it’s a great first performance from the man.

    If my mum was still here, she’d be singing his praises. Mum was a big Connery fan and, as a kid, she would always sit and watch a Connery Bond adventure with me. I wish we could do that now.


    Bond girl/s and performance

    First up we see Sylvia Trench. For me, the best of all secondary Bond girls. I’ve never actually thought about this before (and please excuse me if it appears in the novels as I haven’t yet read these despite having them), but I kind of give her the credit for the “Bond, James Bond” line we first hear Connery say. It’s like she gave him the nudge to say it that way with her “Trench, Sylvia Trench” line. I know that won’t be the case but I do like Miss Trench. Anyway, Eunice Grayson could have stolen that scene if it wasn’t for how great Connery was. A true siren.

    Then we had the very sexy Miss Taro, the femme fatale of the movie, played very well by Zena Marshall. Another siren of excellent quality, the scene at her house on Magenta Drive was great. Shame that towel stayed where it was.  Just on thinking, a lot is made of Bond bedding various lovely ladies to get information, however, how many of these villainous ladies jump into bed with Bond, then try to pop him off? Haha, just a thought.

    Finally, we have the vision of the sea that is Ursula Andress. In a scene that is recognisable the world over, Honey Ryder quite rightly sits at the top as one of the most memorable Bond girls of all time. Again, and as with all the actors in this movie, she sets the bar high. While not a match for Bond, she does have her moments, such as telling Bond to rub himself all over with water as mosquitos are after the salt; nice to see her telling him what’s what. Also, the look of horror on her face when she sees Bond take out and kill one of the guards, or whatever you want to call them, who is following them. Yep, Andress is decent.


    Bond henchman and performance

    Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent, I think, is great. Not the henchman in the vein of those that will come in the future but still memorable. Dawson is the right mix of sinister villain and general snivelling dogsbody of Dr No.

    Mr Jones, portrayed well enough by Reginal Carter and giving us a sense of the fear they have working under Dr No, ultimately popping himself off rather than reveal any plans to Bond.

    The same can be said of Marguerite LeWars as Annabel Chung, again not willing to give any information away.

    And there’s also The Three Blind Mice, very sinister in my eyes due to the way they go about their business of killing Strangways.

    Let’s not forget Sister Rose and Sister Lily either. Despite being ever so nice when Bond and Honey arrive, I wouldn’t like to get on their wrong side. Well played by both actresses.


    Bond villain/s and performance

    Joseph Wiseman as Dr No is brilliant, one of my favourite villains of the whole series of Bond movies. Reason mentioned above help, in that the fear he must put in to those working under him is great enough for them to risk their own lives.

    I do enjoy how we don’t actually get to see him until late in the movie; I feel it makes him even more of a sinister villain, having his “team” do all his dirty work for him. I like how we just get little snippets of him through the movie, the file with his name on, hearing his voice in the tarantula room and just seeing his legs as he looks in on Bond after his capture. It’s a nice build up to his reveal and there is no disappointment when we finally see him.

    Wiseman did a super job of making the character of Dr No as menacing as he was. Like Connery he is very cool, but he also has a cruelty that comes through in his performance. Connery and Wiseman seem a perfect match against each other and it makes for a thrilling meeting over dinner. Good stuff.


    Supporting cast performances (M, Moneypenny, Q, allies, minor characters etc)

    Bernard Lee as M – What can be said, a legend in the Bond movies and a great performance in Dr No that follows through to all the movies he appears in. Brilliant.

    Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny – Again, what can we say, the perfect Moneypenny and, again, just excellent in all the 007 movies she appeared in.

    Jack Lord as Felix Leiter- Very cool in the same vein as Connerys’ Bond. Shame he didn’t come back for more.

    John Kitzmuller as Quarrel – Love this guy, great character and I love that we see Quarrel Jr in LALD. Love how his fear of the dragon and crab key come through.


    Think that covers most. Hope it kinda covers what was asked for.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited October 2016 Posts: 15,696
    Cast performance:

    James Bond: Pitch perfect. Connery has huge screen presence, charisma, machismo. Needed only his first line (Bond, James Bond) to create a cinematic character that will stand the test of time. I do not think this performance will be beaten when we review the following 23 films.

    Honey Ryder: Probably the most iconic intro for a Bond girl. She is very sexyful, and Andress really fleshes out the character. I like the back story, and you can clearly see Connery is hypnotized by her.

    Dr No: Very little screen time but he owns every of those seconds. Very menacing, ominous, sure of himself (at first) until he loses it at the end and goes all out to kill Bond.

    Quarrel: I just love this guy. So likeable, so cool. Always sad at his death, but he gave me plenty of entertainment in his previous scenes.

    Sylvia Trench: The first ever Bond girl. At first she seems tough as she seems unimpressed by Connery sitting infront of her, but it doesn't take long for Connery to charm her. Very lovely when in Bond's flat.

    Leiter: Very cool and suave, you can really feel the friendship between him and Bond.

    M: Excellent, the only character in the film that Bond will shut up when yelled at. Commanding acting from Bernard Lee.

    Moneypenny: Quite likeable , and Maxwell really goes on well with Connery. Wish she had more screentime.

    Dent: Ominous, slimy character, you really hate the guy. But he has one of the most iconic death in the franchise.

    Miss Taro: Another sexyful girl, and she is very cute when she simply can not resist Connery's magnetic charm.

  • edited October 2016 Posts: 1,386
    Dr. No (1962)

    Bond henchmen/villain(s) and performance:

    Have you ever seen someone cooking something that looked absolutely delicious like sheer perfection and then they added just one ingredient that seemed so off the wall and completely out of place to you that you found that if you had been watching them make something disgusting in the first place you would actually be less frustrated with them? No? Just me? Okay then.
    I am just going to get what I dislike about this movie out of the way right now because there is so much to like: Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No This film does an incredible job of building up the character of DN and indeed when I only hear Wiseman's voice echoing in that large room that Professor Dent is sitting in in his lone chair looking frightened and worried like a child waiting outside the school disciplinarian's office I do find him frightening--because Anthony Dawson makes me scared of Joseph Wiseman. Joseph Wiseman never makes me intimidated of his character when he is on screen. When a movie has this much build up to the villain's entrance and the villain is the titular character I do not think it is unfair to expect a show-stopping performance, but from the moment Joseph Wiseman shows his face I just think "that's it?" I just find him so bland and lacking in charisma. The man just doesn't deliver for me in any way, shape, or form if I am being perfectly honest. But I can't pin all of this on Wiseman. Even with a more charismatic actor in the role I would still have a problem with DN himself because the character doesn't get nearly enough screen time. The dinner conversation is good because it is well written and Connery knocks his side of it out of the park. For me that scene is like one man on one side of the net hitting a ping pong ball over the net to his opponent, who never hits the ball so Connery just keeps serving and getting nothing back. The novel and film both did an exceptional job of building up this enigmatic figure of Dr. No. The difference is that when the character popped into the novel I found his description absolutely chilling and he spent some time toying with Bond in the tunnels. The novel had not only the build up but also the pay off. For me that is what this movie lacked: the pay off. Anyway, on to the plethora of positives.

    Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent Great. He plays off Connery so well in their scenes together and especially love his final scene with Bond. "That's a Smith and Wesson and you've had your six." Dawson plays the part of the shady Professor Dent so well and it's great watching him dashing to cover his tracks. Much like Bond, Dent seems to be doing what he has to in his current situation to survive. On the one side is Bond who is intent
    on finding answers and on the other side is Dr. No who will do god-knows-what to Dent if he fails to bury the information that will lead Bond to Crab Key.

    Zena Marshall as Miss Taro: She has a sweetness to her that makes her betrayal seem kind of unexpected. I still don't want to believe she's bad--more like she just fell in with the wrong crowd.

    Marguerite LeWars as the Photographer:
    She is very good. This isn't a particularly big role but right from the start when she glares at Bond at the airport she makes an impression and you remember her face later.

    Bond and actor performance:

    Connery starts off so cool and detached and because he hasn't received his mission yet when he's introduced none of this feels forced or pulls you out of the film. Then slowly as the film progresses you're drawn into this mystery and all of the elements of the film work together beautifully to draw you into this mystery. This is a very delicate balancing act and if Connery hadn't brought his "A" game in this film it wouldn't be the classic that it is. It is absolutely *essential* that the actor playing Bond makes the audience believe that the danger is real so we're sucked in and glued to our screens (and anytime Connery is on screen in this film, I am). Right from the moment at the airport where Bond suspects he is about to walk into a trap we see this look in his eyes that conveys so much. It's the mark of an exceptional actor to be able to convey so much without even a single line of dialogue. He has this watchful look in his eyes that just lets you as the viewer know that there is danger ahead. I remember listening to an interview with Timothy Dalton where he said something along the lines that everything in Bond's world and in Fleming's novels gives you the sense of a man who really lives on the edge and you can definitely see that with Connery's performance in this film. All these little moments of Bond rigging his hotel room and calling ahead to check with "universal exports" about the car are the necessary precautions of a man who faces death daily. Bond is really thrust into a dangerous world early on in this film and thanks to all the elements that create this world coming together so wonderfully you really feel like that danger is real. This movie really needed an exceptional Bond performance to work and Connery doesn't disappoint. Connery is a powderkeg in this film relentlessy pursuing the truth. There's something very predatory about him in one scene in particular which ties a bit more into the film's direction and I have a lot of positives I'm looking forward to talking about on that when the time comes.

    Bond girl/s and performance:

    Honey Ryder: Ursula Andress gives a great performance as Honey. Just like her literary counterpart she is both fiesty and you get the impression she can handle herself but there's also still that scared little girl inside--very well done.

    Sylvia Trench: Not only is Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench my favorite Bond girl in this film but she is quite possibly my favorite of all time. The way she matches Connery's playful pursuits by pursuing him back and then easing off at times is a delight to watch with each taking turns being the hunter.

    Supporting cast performances:

    Bernard Lee as M I really love this first scene with Bond and M with Bond trying to sneak off with his Beretta--it sets up their relationship so well and you just know that while Bond will typically do as his boss orders when it comes down to it that the two will definitely butt heads. Bernard Lee is great as M as always.

    Peter Burton as Major Boothroyd: I actually liked this guy's appearance and the way he delivered the info about Bond's new gun. I'm glad we got Desmond Llewellyn in the next film though because he is always such a joy to watch in the role of Q.

    Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny The chemistry and exchange between her and Connery is great here and Lois Maxwell is her playful joy-to-watch self in the role as always.

    John Kitzmiller as Quarrel: I really appreciate the warmth he brings to this character at times.

    Jack Lord as Felix Leiter Along with Bernie Casey this is one of my favorite Felix Leiters. Jack Lord plays the part so cool. We really get the sense that Felix is another capable agent in the scene where he examines Bond's gun and I like that.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,423
    Sean Connery’s performance as Bond

    Connery remarked that he saw Bond as “amoral”. The four cornerstones of a great Bondian performance -

    Predatory – Sniffing (or tasting!?) the towel of Miss Taro when she goes to answer the telephone, or later as Bond decides to have “another go” as he’s waiting for the policecar to appear, shows us that Connery had this particular aspect of Bond’s persona down pat.

    Malevolent – The look in Connery’s eyes when he bowls out the chauffeur, or when he’s discussing revenge with Dr. No.

    Magnetic – The entire film of Dr. No has this air of seduction to it, most notably from Connery’s sheer charisma.

    Prick – Fleming once said that Bond shouldn’t always be likeable. Bond is a cold, dangerous man, a real tough professional, one can find that particular aspect in Dr. No littered throughout – his impatience with Honey and Quarrel over their superstitions; his “and will stay dead” to the police commissioner in Strangeway’s house; his taking of the receipt from Dent to show Bond has discovered Dent’s lies; his command to one of Dr. No’s guards to uncuff him; Bond’s superiority to anyone bar M and Leiter, no matter their creed, race, sex etc. As time went on, this facet to the Bond character diminished. Not so in Dr. No.

    MI6 Regulars – This could be the second or third installment in the series, the repartee between Bond, M and Moneypenny is so well defined.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,682
    Alright, here are my performance thoughts for each category:

    Bond and Bond performance: Connery is beyond classic and impressive here, not only in his first movie, but in his very first scene; I don't think you can get much more Bondian than Connery is as he lights up a cigarette and introduces himself to Sylvia with the cool, iconic line.

    Bond girls and performances: Sylvia and Honey are gorgeous and entertaining; while the former only appears for a few moments (before making her return in FRWL), Honey gets a good amount of screen time in the final act (doesn't even feel that long before she returns, but it is) and impresses, particularly with her bit of backstory that really stood out to me upon this viewing. I've always enjoyed the little things in the Bond franchise, and this is a special moment shared between her and Bond that I like. I enjoy seeing Bond cut in during her emotional tale to inform her that killing any guy who wants her with a Black Widow may not be the best idea.

    Bond henchmen and performances:
    Three Blind Mice are good, considering the few moments they have to work with. It actually took me several years to realize they don't disappear into the background, but are indeed the ones driving the hearse that Bond runs off the road. The driver that is picked up by Bond at the airport is also enjoyable, and does a very good job at paving the way for what's to come, particularly the sinister organization. Finally, Professor Dent: I've always liked him, and the way that Bond seems to be more and more suspicious about him before it all clicks in his office. The icing on the cake is the scene they share together, before Dent is brutally executed. "...and you've had your six."

    Bond villains and performances: Dr. No - underrated, sinister, and that terrific dinner speech manages to heighten him above plenty other villains, for me. Joseph Wiseman does some great work in the role, and one bit that stood out to me upon this last viewing that I enjoyed a lot was the fact that Bond mentions joining the "good guys" to No, who says he already tried, and then Dr. No mentions to Bond that he thought about having him join the organization. The earlier Bond movies did a great job of showing a sort of understanding/kindness amongst Bond and the villain, like Goldfinger and Bond acknowledging who one another are after the golf game, and Auric gives him yet another chance to stop what he's doing and leave him be.

    Supporting cast and performances (M, Moneypenny, Q, allies, minor characters, etc): There are a lot of great supporting characters in this; while we don't get our first look at Llewlyn's Q just yet, the M and MP scenes are great, Quarrel is one of my favorite characters in the series, and I've always liked Pussfeller's small role, too. "Nobody died from my cooking...yet." The ladies who show Bond/Honey to their room (their names fail me right now) are pleasant enough to make things seem even more off in Dr. No's lair, as is the mysterious photographer following Bond around in Jamaica.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    Posts: 15,696
    @Birdleson you got me interested in how Quarrel and JW Pepper would have interacted together.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,423
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Bond and Bond performance: As I've said elsewhere, Connery starts at his peak. He continues to be excellent in the next three pictures, but never quite nails it the way he does here. There is hunger and an animal quality to the man in DN that is almost unsettling.

    Bolded that for truth.

  • Posts: 1,386
    @Birdleson you got me interested in how Quarrel and JW Pepper would have interacted together.
    Birdleson wrote: »
    That would make for a great series of films.

    Could be a whole string of films similar to the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road pictures. "Quarrel & Pepper go to Thailand," "Quarrel & Pepper underneath the bamboo tree," so many possibilities out there.
  • Posts: 3,336
    royale65 wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Bond and Bond performance: As I've said elsewhere, Connery starts at his peak. He continues to be excellent in the next three pictures, but never quite nails it the way he does here. There is hunger and an animal quality to the man in DN that is almost unsettling.

    Bolded that for truth.

    Yes, that's a great way to put it.

  • MayDayDiVicenzoMayDayDiVicenzo Here and there
    Posts: 5,080
    Apologies, at the moment I'm caught up in a lot of work for uni (ah, the philosophies of what constitutes geography, lovely stuff) so I won't be able to post my thoughts until Wednesday. To quote Bond in AVTAK, "I'll be right with you!"
  • JohnHammond73JohnHammond73 Lancashire, UK
    edited October 2016 Posts: 4,151
    Morning all. It's Tuesday so here's my next lot of comments. Again, I hope they're what you're after. Cheers.

    Gun barrel sequence

    As we all know, Connery isn't in the gun barrel sequence unfortunately. Here, we have Bob Simmons who, while trying, his walk seems a little stiff and the jump to turn and fire seems a little awkward. He gets his man/woman though, and the blood scrolls down the screen, so it can't have been too bad and he got a decent shot off.

    PTS

    I'm going to say this is up to the reveal of the file on Dr No, seems the best spot for the end of a PTS. Anyway, this is good, not up to the standard of some that will follow but it sets things up nicely, with the killing of Strangways and his assistant, the reason Bond gets the mission, and the reveal of "Doctor" No's file. It does a very good job of setting up the story for the rest of the movie.

    Locations

    Apart from London, this is set in Jamaica, which looks absolutely stunning, particularly on my bluray and HD TV. Some stunning shots during the movie.

    Gadgets

    Not really much of note in this movie apart from the Geiger counter, which does its job admirably and Bonds' new Walther gun, with silencer, which does the job on Dent. Other than that there's the cyanide cigarette used by Jones to finish himself off rather than give out information. This does its job quickly and professionally.

    Action

    Well, Dr No is, primarily, a spy thriller as opposed to an action movie and it doesn't stray away from that, with no overload of actions scenes that can be seen in future movies. The final scenes are great, Bond finding his way through the vents, disguising himself as a worker and then pulling the plug on Dr No's plans. And with the final explosion, which looks great in high definition, Bond saves the day. As I said, not too much action which, in the case of this movie, it really works.
    A proper spy thriller.

    Humour

    While there is humour in this movie, I don't think it's too obvious and in your face. Very subtle and nothing really of note.

    Plot plausibility

    The plot is simple enough and, for me, credible enough. The plot being simple helps this be a great spy thriller.

    Villains’ scheme

    We all know that the villains’ schemes in some Bond movies are beyond ridiculous, Dr No pretty much steers clear of that......ish. Compared to what is coming soon in future movies, this is tame, no?
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    Great work in here so far, folks.

    I like that you are all writing posts as long or short as you feel they need to be. The intention of this thread is to be a space for all of us to post our own gradual impressions of each film, mapping our perceptions of their many elements without a strictness. I hope you all feel that freedom of expression and fun, and have enjoyed the experience thus far.

    I've been caught up in some employment related hysteria for the past two days, but will post my thoughts on both Monday and Tuesday's main topics soon enough, hopefully as soon as tonight.

    Behave yourselves, now. ;)
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited October 2016 Posts: 15,696
    Gunbarrel:
    One of the best, as you get some weird beep-boop sound at first, and as Bond shoots you get the Bond theme full blast, and I really like how it flows straight in the title sequence.

    PTS:
    Sadly, not featured in this film.

    Locations:
    Spectacular, only 1 main location as opposed to non-stop globe trotting, so you feel right at home with Bond, and the film covers a lot of ground. Perfect holiday film.

    Gadgets:
    None from Q, but the scene where Bond 'prepares' his hotel room by putting some powder on his case, and a hair on the closet's door, beats any kind of gadgets that Q might have provided him. Very clever stuff.


    Action:
    Probably will be the least action packed film in the franchise, but it does compensate that each of these few short sequences ends with a very badass kill from Connery (nothing beats Connery's one liner after the car chase, even that worker on the road seems about to burst out laughing).

    Humour:
    Not 'campy', 'OTT' or 'teenage humour', but Connery's deadpan delivery of incisive one liners is magical. As noted in the Action section: Connery's ''Maybe they were on their way to a funeral'' is Bond at his best.

    Plot plausibility:
    Very simple plot, not any OTT stuff that I noticed. Quite plausible if you take for account this was 1962.

    Villains' scheme:
    I guess the plot was very topical in 1962. I love Bond's detective work to uncover the plot, so it's really some sort of spy thriller/mystery as you put together the pieces at the same time as Bond. In that sense, I doubt this aspect of DN will be beaten by many, if any, of the following 23 films.
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,574
    Dr No - The Bond Elements

    Looking back at the Dr No gun barrel is strange. The idea was clearly a good one, yet it never really crossed their collective minds that it would look better if Connery did it, rather than Bob Simmons.
    Bob walks a little cautiously in the shadows while the strange futuristic music plays, he turns, he shoots, and history is made.

    The Dr No theme plays, and the credits role. Again in this first film we have so many traditions in place - the Dr No theme, soon to be the James Bond theme, the dancing girls in silhouette, the credits fading into an immediate sense of danger as the 3 blind mice tap their way through the streets of Kingston.

    It's easy to understand how the audiences of 1962 were swept along with this dangerous thriller full of exotic people and exotic locations (not many of them, but how many people had been to Jamaica in 1962?)

    There are no gadgets to speak off, just a Geiger counter, but it was sent by diplomatic bag to Bond in Jamaica, which was pretty damned cool.

    The humour is very black, as black as Bond's coffee. Bond's taunting of Dr No across the dinner table is brilliant
    "Tell me, does the toppling of American missiles really compensate for having no hands?" Some of these lines deserve a round of applause.

    The action comes out of the story rather than feeling forced into the film to make up a quota. It's intermittent and charmingly antiquated. When Bond hits the driver who takes him from the airport it doesn't have the impact of the next year's train fight in From Russia With Love. Non of the extreme sound effects are yet in place.
    Back projection is still in place during the car chase, and no chances are taken with the spider on glass.
    But the climax is still great, as is Bond's fight with Dr No.

    The plot is pure Bond, full of mad excesses. And the driving force behind Dr No's plans? The fact he had been rejected by the world's major Governments, and his nose had been put out of joint. Funded by SPECTRE his spoilt brat antics take shape.
    The plot is straightforward, uncomplicated, and certainly not prone to any deep analysis. But then again what Bond film is?

    Bond is followed throughout the film, only once (when Dent goes to Crab Key) does the camera really leave Bond.

    Astonishing that the first film in the series gets so much right, and still remains the ultimate blue print for everything that follows.
  • edited October 2016 Posts: 1,386
    (All of this is subjective of course)

    Dr. No (1962)

    Gun barrel sequence: The sort of "bloop" sound effect at the open was kind of distracting. Apart from that I like it all well enough. This is a category where I don't anticipate having too much to say all that often in the future.

    PTS: Technically the film doesn't have one but I really like SharkofLargo's idea of treating what comes after the titles up to the close up on the "Dr. No" file as a pre-title sequence. I really like the close up shot of one of the killer's guns and then that camera shot from down low inside the car with Professor Strangways collapsing out of the camera shot as we see the killer's continuing to fire and hear the thuds of their silencers. This may seem a bit morbid but I always enjoy when the films use this sound.

    Locations: Jamaica just looks gorgeous in this film and is such a great exotic backdrop for this story.

    Gadgets Very little to speak of because the focus is more on story here which is fine by me.

    Action: There isn't a great deal in the way of action in this film because it's more story than spectacle oriented. What I really appreciate about this movie though (and really all of Terence Young 's Bond films) is the way that he really directs the sequences that do have violence in such a way that they all really leave an impact. That beating Bond gives that enemy agent posing as his driver is BRUTAL! A great deal of violence from films of this time happened off screen (and indeed even in this film we don't see exactly what happens to Honey after Dr. No's guards drag her away). So it must have been incredibly shocking at such a time to see this level of violence happening on screen right before your eyes--seeing Strangways' secretary getting shot and the bloody wound, seeing Strangways and Professor Dent being so coldly executed, & seeing Quarrel's flailing body aflame. There isn't a great deal of violence in the film but director Terence Young has Strangways falling practically into the camera lenses when he is shot. What violence is in the film is pretty in-your-face. Another thing the actors, director, and writers all accomplished was that the movie kind of plays with the viewer psychologically--hints that maybe some violence is about to happen in at least a couple scenes. One of these scenes is when Bond comes into Miss Taro 's bedroom while she is on the phone. We see his face while he overhears her conversation and watch him twisting a towel he is holding around both hands--seemingly preparing to use it as a weapon. In moments that follow we're not immediately sure whether Bond is going to choke this woman to death or have sex with her--we're waiting on the edges of our seats to find out which even though there is no violence in the scene whatsoever. Another moment that builds up anticipation for violence is that great scene where Professor Dent is sitting at the foot of the bed, Bond has him at gun point, and when Dent thinks Bond is looking away he uses his foot to tug on the blanket his pistol is on to try to get it within reach. I really love this scene and how (when you first see it) you're not actually sure if Bond is paying attention and have this genuine worry that Bond might be in danger.

    Humor: As others have said, the humor is very subtle in this one --not even always a one-liner. One moment that always makes me chuckle is when Bond is caught trying to sneak off with his Beretta after receiving such a long lecture (seemingly one of many) about using it. The look on Bond's face as he kind of sheepishly returns the gun to M is great and I just love this childish game he's playing with his boss--that moment just sets up that relationship so well. I also have a soft spot for gallows humor in Bond films and really appreciate the "I think they were on their way to a funeral" quip. And of course we have some cheekiness with Moneypenny as well as this great exchange:

    Honey Rider: Are you looking for shells?
    Bond: No....I'm just looking.

    Plot plausibility: Edit: The only thing that can hurt a Bond film's credibility for me is a character's motives for their behavior being a bit sketchy. That wasn't a problem for me at all here. As far as I could tell you could track the motivations behind the actions for all the characters and they would make sense.

    Villain's scheme: A pretty brilliant scheme actually.
  • JohnHammond73JohnHammond73 Lancashire, UK
    edited October 2016 Posts: 4,151
    Ok, here are my latest batch of comments on Dr No. Cheers.

    Opening title design

    Ok, so this is the first one and, for me, I really like the simple design of. Very much of the 60’s and a nice intro to the movie and the intro of the Three Blind Mice within the credits and into the start of the movie is good.

    Script

    Good, I like it. It’s a very good start to a successful franchise. Similar to the plot, it’s nice, simple and works a treat. A good way to kick off.

    Cinematography

    I’ll be honest and say that I’m not much of an expert on cinematography but, from what limited knowledge on the subject I have, Ted Moore does a great job in making Dr No look stunning.

    Music

    Again, music is something I haven’t really appreciated in movies, until I joined this forum and now, I like to ensure that I hear every note. With regards to the music in Dr No, I feel it is one of the weakest of the series. Maybe this is a case is being first up, I don’t know. However, this pales into insignificance as we get Monty Normans’ iconic James Bond Theme. This is a piece of music that everyone, young or old knows, so well. I’m sure that is something we can all agree on here.

    Editing

    Peter Hunts’ editing is nice and fast paced. Not sure if it fits here but some of the scenes, such as his fight with Jones, I’m not overly keen on them being sped up. Quite, obviously, noticeable. And speaking of the same scene, Bond going to land one on him with his right, before actually smacking him with his left always makes me chuckle. With that sort of speed, Connery would have been a top boxer.

    Costume design

    All good here, Connery looks great as does Jack Lord as Leiter. All costumes fit well in to the movie, as well as on to the actors wearing them of course. Always liked the Nehru collars that Dr No and Bond are wearing in the dinner scene and they are something that have lasted all the way through to the latest Bond adventure so fair play on this one.

    Oh, and then there is the bikini worn by Ursula Andress. Ok, it’s just gotten hot in here, enough of that.

    Sets

    The sets here set the standard for future Bond movies. The least impressive for me is the control room, however, back when the movie was made, this probably wasn’t the case as I’m sure in the 60’s it looked very impressive; just looks a little dated now.

    Then there’s the chamber, this looks great and the design work is excellent. From the room that Bond and Honey are led to by the sisters, to the room for dinner, this looks great.

    However the piece de resistance is the anteroom, where Professor Dent goes to pick up the tarantula meant for 007’s demise. The design is so simple, an empty room, the grill above, but the atmosphere created with the lighting etc in this scene is incredible. A wonderful achievement from Ken Adam.


    On a separate note, I'm enjoying reading everyone else's thoughts on the various categories for this movie. A great idea for a thread.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    Posts: 15,696
    Opening Title design:
    Very simple, very colourful. I really like it. Puts you in the mood that the film will be very entertaining and 'different'.

    Script:
    I don't think this will be beaten. Every scene, every dialogue, every action from the character are pitch perfect, and there's nothing you can remove to make it flow better. I just goes along very, very fast for 110 minutes, yet at the end I feel like I am very familiar with Connery's Bond now, ready for more adventures.

    Cinematography:
    Very good, really allows all the hotness, colours and exotic nature of Jamaica to 'pop' on screen. On a rainy day it's just like you've suddenly moved to a hot and sunny location when you watch this film.

    Music:
    Sorry, but I really can't stand the soundtrack. The Bond theme is great, so are the songs (Underneath the Mango Tree and Jump Up), but I really don't like the rest of the soundtrack. Misses the John Barry touch that we'll talk about in the next films.

    Editing:
    Looks very modern for a film from 1962, Hunt really speeds up the action and flow of the film when characters go from one location to another. Some little problem here and there (the famous punch from Connery), but it's a very quick-natured editing that we'll see more of in the next films.

    Costume design:
    Splendid, Connery looks like an absolute man in those very well tailored suits, and he'd get all attention today in 2016 if he entered a room with these same suits. All the women in the film look even better with these colourful clothes. I also like Dr No's nehru jacket that he wears at the end, a look at we'll see more off in the next few films.

    Sets:
    Very good, you can see a lot of the film's budget went into Dr No's compound, the control room looks big and full of details. I also really like the 'room' where Dent gets the spider, looks visually stunning, and sets the tone for future Bond films. Some sort of futuristic design. Can look a bit dated now with the minimal furniture and details in some sets, but it must really have looked fantastic in 1962.
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,574
    @Josiah, some great points about Dr No's action there.

    Dr No - Production Notes

    As I've said before so much of what we get in Dr No establishes traditions that are still with us today. The title designs with gyrating women has never really gone away, the beautiful cinematography, the importance of music to establish mood (in this case the Caribbean experience is enhanced by the music).
    The editing is fast paced - or at least fast paced for 1962.
    Set design. Ken Adam does a fine job. The contrasts of the clinical sets representing No's working environment and the ornate indulgence of his living area.

    Interesting to see how much trouble went into Connery's suits, to give the impression of a man with great style. By the late 80s this was abandoned almost totally.

    The script of course is a humdinger. Full of bleakly funny put downs Dr No has established a certain genre of action/adventure film laced with humour to punctuate the extreme action or violence. Since 1962 everyone from Arnie to Bruce Willis to Tom Cruise has introduced the self effacing or sarcastic witticisms into their films.

    Remember where it started folks.

    Right here, in Dr No.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    I've never done a Bond film rankng before....ever. So this seems as good a place to start as any.

    As simple as it can be after one film.

    1. Dr No
  • edited October 2016 Posts: 1,386
    @NicNac Thanks. You made some great points as well.

    I have very little to add today that hasn't already been mentioned in the great break downs preceding this.

    Script: Just wanted to add a bit in regards to the humor. I love Bond's reply to sister lily when she says to ring if she can get them anything at all and he says "Two first class tickets to London".

    Cinematography: Everything I want to say about this I already said in my previous comment. I love the way that first scene with Strangways is executed (pun intended).

    Opening Title scene/Music: While I love the Monty Norman theme, there's some moments like the scene with the three Blind Mice outside the club watching Bond where the score really blares louder than it needs to. I'm not a big fan of the Calypso music in this one--particularly the moment where Bond sings feels a bit heavy-handed to me.

  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    edited October 2016 Posts: 28,694
    Playing catch up with a (likely) pleonastic analysis...

    Bond Actor & Performance:

    When it comes to rating and ranking Bond performances, there are not many that could even hope to match the work that Sean Connery provides us with in his debut role as 007.

    It’s this kind of performance work that not only makes him a legend on the cinemascape, but more importantly, the greatest and most iconic James Bond. So much of what makes Dr. No a roaring success and why Sean’s performance in it is so fascinating to watch is due to the fact that the film is a perfect mix of an espionage thriller and a mystery that spews intrigue and deceit between its characters and adds a palpable atmosphere to the story. In fact, when Bond and Honey finally meet, she tells him she’s never met a detective before, because for lack of a better word, that’s exactly the kind of role Bond fills here. He does just as much sleuthing as he does spying, and that fascinating blend of roles for Bond’s character makes Dr. No unforgettable.

    Because of this amalgam of roles, Sean’s Bond in this film is the perfect blend of smooth spy and noir private dick. 007 is constantly faced with a series of unique characters (many of which are lying through their teeth to him), and how he navigates through the thick fog of mystery and fear surrounding the words “Crab Key” and the name “Dr. No” reveals to us what is one of the all time unbeatable Bond performances of all time, and quite possibly Sean’s most interesting to view, even in comparison to From Russia With Love.

    When it comes to Sean’s performance in Dr. No, every movement, every gaze, every slight gesture, sway of the body and shift of the eyes he gives the audience means something. Watching Sean play in this film is like watching the greatest of thespians losing themselves in a role on the London stage. He packs so much meaning and resonance into Bond’s character without even speaking, and it’s truly impossible to overestimate his iconic talent. Each scene Sean plays is a masterwork and blueprint for how the role is meant to be played, who Bond should be and how he should act.

    The mix of embarrassment and shame visible in his eyes as M scornfully chides him on still carrying his Beretta that reveals the respect and intimidation he feels towards his boss as lucid as a pool of water. The animalistic way he preys around Jamaica, laying traps in his hotel room to catch those who may he trying to slay or survey him. The subtle yet forceful way he grabs Miss Taro by the bottom of her tied up hair, flashing his distrust of her, then later on as he jerks her towards him by tugging hard on the towel tangled across her neck, like a noose. The predatory demeanor his body carries as he plays cards of all things while waiting for Dent to show at Taro’s and fall for his trap, then the cold and intense resentment visible in his eyes as he silences the shyster. The visible anger and fury boiling just under the surface as he listens to Dr. No pontificate from the head of the dinner table, his strong jawline steeling itself from his billowing rage as he promises to avenge Quarrel and Strangways. The passion and carnal desire he expresses as he wraps Honey in his arms at the end of the film, literally getting lost with her on the open seas.

    To put it simply, Connery’s performance here is like an onion, it is so layered in complexities. We see so many of the different faces Bond wears here through Sean’s performance, from his passion as a lover, his coldness as a killer, his style as a man of fine dress, his finesse at detective work and counter-espionage, and his unshakable loyalty to his country and allies. You would run out of adjectives trying to sum up what Sean expresses about Bond through his performance in this film, adjectives that came to define his portrayal. Brutal, dangerous, animalistic, magnetic, blunt, eloquent, sophisticated, fearless, fearsome, sharp-witted, iron clad, silver tongued, the list goes on, and on and on.

    In this film and in all his other classic Bond films, Sean delivers to us a captivating mix of traits that makes Bond as a man and agent truly unforgettable and like no other. He’s a man always 12 steps ahead. A man who looks death in the face and dares to crack a grin. A man who cuts through the bureaucratic red tape to get the results he demands of himself to meet.

    Doesn’t get much better than this, and it all started here with Sean.

    Bond Girl & Performance:

    Honey Ryder- It was Fleming’s intention with the character of Honeychile Rider was to evoke the passion and aroma of sexuality that Venus would have evoked had she materialized on the beach in front of Bond, and with the casting of Ursula Andress, this effect was achieved, and then some (which is funny, because Andress would go on after the movie to play Aphrodite in Clash of the Titans). Honey rising from the ocean is a moment that will continue to live on in the history of cinema forever. Her seductive, twisting hips, her natural and perfect form, the droplets of water glistening on her face, her features so perfect it’s like they were chiseled by a prized artisan, and with a voice so melodious you imagine birds would stop to chirp along with her in harmony.

    It’s a wonderful composition of images to see a beautiful and natural woman in an equally natural and beautiful environment, especially since, like the biblical Eve, Fleming’s Honey was stark naked when Bond comes upon her. In such a short amount of time, only a bit before Dr. No’s big reveal, Andress makes up for the deficit and writes herself into history.

    Largely, I think Honey is a fascinating character for her contradictions. She’s a woman who has faced abuse and carries a great feeling of innocence about her, but she can just as easily be the abuser and enter a dark and malevolent headspace to obstruct those she deems unpleasant. She’s a woman who has taken to roaming and over time, has seen the world, but is perfectly capable of making a home for herself anywhere, with sharp wits about her and a hand always clasped around that knife of hers. Just looking at her, you wouldn’t believe she was capable of unleashing a deadly black widow spider on a man, but such is the depth and contrarian nature of her character. She’s a beautiful face with a curved figure that masks sharp edges and a rugged core balled up underneath. The surprise at what kind of woman she is, the strength of her character and the danger of her revenge are hidden extras you have to dig below the surface to truly unearth, and it makes for a fascinating journey.

    Her naïve nature when faced with the cold cruelty of Dr. No adds another fascinating layer. For all see has experienced from hard and cruel men, she doesn’t know Bond’s world and is very much at the mercy of Dr. No and his followers as their scheme unfolds. Chained and left to drown, Honey becomes the troubled and broken-winged bird Bond inevitably finds himself falling towards, as if by a gravitational pull. While she’s far from an absolute favorite of mine, Honey feels like a real woman in every sense, an innocent unintentionally caught up in Bond’s mission. Unlike much of today’s movie climate, it was clear that the filmmakers refused to wrestle consciously with the notion of Honey being a female character who would be Bond’s equal, an idea that can often obstruct the characterization of our Bond girls and make them feel artificial and disingenuous as an end result. Instead, they had Ursula play it straight down the middle in a performance that delivered on the essentials sans any showy stuff, and I think her character is all the better for it. All Honey needed to be was real and raw, and boy does Andress deliver, body and soul.

    A special and significant mention must be given to Nikki van der Zyl here, who provides the lovely voice to accompany Andress’s performance. Van der Zyl realizes verbally what Andress expressed physically, giving Honey’s voice a great melody and innocence while also revealing the dark past and vengeful nature of the woman in her intonations during her private talk with Bond. Deliveries on Van der Zyl’s part with lines like, “Did I do wrong?” in the scene where Honey confesses to a murder make the character feel like an innocent child of nature, as if she is completely oblivious to the depravity and dark reality of the action she took with that dreaded black widow all those years ago.

    Bond Henchmen & Performance:

    Professor Dent & Mr. Jones- For this entry, I’m including Professor Dent AND Mr. Jones, simply because I love the chauffeur and what he unconsciously represents in the film, for however briefly.

    Starting with Professor Dent, Anthony Dawson’s talent for character roles is widely visible here as he takes on this understated but absolutely crucial role in Dr. No. In a layered performance not unlike Connery’s, Dawson gave Dent the perfect mix of the intellect of a scientist, the two-faced nature of a schemer obstructing Bond, and the crippling fear of a man who is in way over his head while working underneath Dr. No and SPECTRE.

    Professor Dent is an important character in this film because through his eyes, we see the power and influence and fear Dr. No commands to his underlings. His meek and fearful demeanor as he enters the anteroom and hears No’s booming and robotic voice is telling, as is his anxiety-racked face as he is forced to pick up the tarantula cage. He’s the perfect example of a pawn in a greater organization, a lower-level operative of SPECTRE who knows his place all too well, and we get a good sense that the anxiety of the job has more than worn on him by the time he and Bond cross paths. What makes Dent enter the Bond history books forever, however, is the famous “You’ve had your six” scene. Two Walther shots to the torso after being duped by Bond is a fitting and slightly comical end to Dent, as he is fundamentally a man so used to taking orders that he lacks the stomach and strategy to mount his own schemes, especially when the man he plans to ensnare is as capable a force as what Bond represents. Dent tried to play Bond’s game, which was his first and last mistake when dealing with this particular 00 agent, who authored the playbook.

    I wanted to include Mr. Jones here for a brief moment too, because in the nascent days of Bond’s cinematic history that Dr. No represents, he’s about the closest thing to a henchman we’ve got in this adventure. And though his time on screen is fleeting, the actor Reginald Carter makes good use of it. I love how Bond spots the trap laid by Jones and makes a call to the MI6 affiliate in Jamaica to confirm his suspicions. What I love more is the confidence Bond carries as he jumps willingly into the car with Jones and acts as his passenger, though he knows that any moment death could come to him. The ensuing dialogue (“I’m a very nervous passenger”) and Bob Simmons’ debut action sequence in the Bond series make for engrossing cinema.

    My favorite aspect of Jones’ character, however, is how he tricks Bond into giving him one last request of a cigarette, which Bond respectfully allows him to have, unaware that it’s laced with cyanide. Jones is vital and interesting in the plot of Dr. No because he is the first unconscious sign Bond meets in Jamaica of the overwhelming conspiracy he’s entangling himself in by investigating the mysterious murder of Strangways. Jones’ desire to do anything, even face death itself to escape questioning and the wrath of his master is Bond’s first sign of many that point to the fear and power that Dr. No is capable of spreading amongst his foot soldiers. Though he is a small part of a large puzzle, Jones’ demise and fear builds up the mythic quality of the man who has a grip on Crab Key, the surrounding landmasses and the people that populate them.

    Bond Villain & Performance:

    Dr. No- The biggie, the one that started it all. It’s amazing to look back on the history of James Bond in cinema, and see its beginning here in Dr. No. It’s just as amazing to note the massive ripple effect actor Joseph Wiseman had as the very first baddie of them all in setting the stage for what it means to be a James Bond villain. It’s funny to learn of Wiseman’s nervousness at taking the part and the feeling he had at the time that the role would be nothing more than a “grade-B Charlie Chan mystery.” And yet, in his final on screen performance as Dr. No, none of the anxiety, reluctance or uncertainty Wiseman experienced on set is visible. What is visible, however, is an iconic performance that brought the baddie to life and sparked a vast and colorful tradition of great villains in the franchise forever past him.

    If science were a man, Dr. No is the form it would take, and this idea is visible in Wiseman’s performance, through which he gave the man a frigid demeanor, a booming and robotic tone, and a delicate, near paper thin ego that he leaves vulnerable for Bond’s puncturing. Wiseman’s No also set the stage for the now iconic interactions between Bond and his villains that we have come to expect from the franchise. Instead of shooting each other on sight or wrestling in sudden death on the floor until a victor was named, No and Bond put aside their differences and numerous attempts to foil each other’s plans to have a respectable dinner.

    The true majesty of No’s character is in how he treats Bond different from all the rest of the Bond villains, even just in the Connery era. He saps the radiation from Bond and his friend (that sounds weird), provides them with a nice room of ultra comfortable means, fresh sets of clothes in their exact sizes and even a spot to wash up at. Most of all, however, while Red Grant gets a sick pleasure out of making Bond beg for mercy, Goldfinger relishes nearly bisecting him and Largo has a visible and intense sense of distaste for Bond through his fake pleasantries, it is Dr. No and only Dr. No who puts aside his differences with Bond to-if you can believe it-recruit the agent for a position in SPECTRE while sharing a five-star meal with the man. What makes Dr. No so amazing as a character is the fact that he is willing to forgive the employees, finances and operations of his that Bond has maimed, burnt and foiled irrevocably, treating them instead as quasi-training exercises or initiations that proved to him Bond had what it took to join his organization as a promising partner. It’s a delight, then, to watch Bond throw the recruitment back into his face coldly as the calm relations between the two crumble to ash as Honey is whisked away and Bond makes a move to either stab his way out or use the bottle of Dom Pérignon 55 as a temporary blunt instrument.

    Lastly, I love how dispassionate No is to the causes of the world, and how he’s turned his back on working for nations entirely-calling them all just points on the compass-to work above it all in SPECTRE, where he calls his own shots and is valued for the skills the west and east turned their backs on. It’s important that No is the first SPECTRE agent we see in the Bond films, because his personality and what kind of people the organization seeks to employ gives us a great idea about just what Blofeld dreamed for it to grow into as its acting figurehead: to become a collective of powerful men beyond the control of nations and flags, a group without land, country or loyalty to anyone but their inner circle working in secret to exert their force, a shadow in the dark of the night.

    Supporting Cast Performances:

    M- In a brief but stunning appearance, Bernard Lee commands the screen as the epitome of just what the perfect M should be. What we don’t know of the character in his speech and demeanor we learn of through the amazing office set express from Ken Adam. We spot M’s worldly anxiety signified in the form of an object by the globe standing behind him and the feeling he elicits of a man who must always be on top of dangerous affairs broiling all across the planet. The painting of a ship recalls his Navy past, and the interior office walls of a smooth and rich wood speak to his traditional nature and adds a strength and indescribable “Britishness” to his professional space. It feels like a space Churchill would inhabit while strategizing against the German blitz.

    The greatest moments of Lee’s time on screen is when his M scolds Bond for not following his orders regarding the Beretta, then later the hint of annoyance and exhaustion he displays in tone and demeanor as he orders Bond to dispense with the flirtations towards Ms. Moneypenny. The image of Bernard Lee in his debut as the character here, with his hunchback posture and the austere gaze he places on the important files before him perfectly characterize M as a stubborn bulldog with an upper lip so stiff it’d make Churchill himself blush.


    Moneypenny- As always, Lois Maxwell is a delight, and the chemistry she and Sean carried remains the greatest, as their interactions in their debuts here exemplify. She’s great with Lazenby and Moore, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something so special about the magic that erupted on screen when she and Sean were in a room together.

    Dr. No is full of some of the greatest moments we’ve seen acted out with these characters. How Sean rests on her office chair, taking her hands in his and dancing with her from that position, humming with charm, and how she attentively accepts his flirtations and pecks of kisses around her face. It’s apparent from the start just how well the two get on, and how much they care for one another. I best relate the interactions between Sean’s Bond and Maxwell’s Moneypenny to two rascals out on the schoolyard, as it reminds me of the fun immaturities kids express to one another when they are playing. When I see Bond pause to make sure Moneypenny is there before he tosses his hat to impress her, it’s not hard to view him as a school kid on the playground trying to get the attention of a popular girl he fancies. Bond and Moneypenny in this film exude a beautiful sense of youthful vigor in their interactions together and from the beginning the significance of these little moments they share during each film becomes clear. When Bond enters her office, which represents the fleeting peace between the outside word of dangerous intrigue and M’s office of reprimand, he feels like a kid again to me, and it’s always lovely to see Lois and Sean play into those roles to share a youthful and fun interaction of a quality that only they could create.

    The care, playful friendship and warmth Sean and Lois exhibit in character to one another never feels artificial, and every time Moneypenny watches Bond leave the office to go off to another mission, you know she’s saying a breathless chain of prayers for Bond’s safety so that they can continue their special ritual of flirtation the next time he comes around again.


    Quarrel- When it comes time to give out accolades to Bond’s best allies, it’s hard to image an outcome where John Kitzmiller’s Quarrel is left out. Second only to Kerim in the Connery era for me, Quarrel makes for a fascinating and admirable character. The introduction to him is great, as he and Bond rub the wrong way and ultimately end up in a bit of a brawl that could have gone sideways fast. It shows a lot about Quarrel’s character (and Puss Feller’s too) that he holds no ill will against Bond for getting roughed up in the shack, and becomes fast allies with him despite their shared distrust at the beginning.

    Quarrel proves to be a reliable force of good on Bond’s side, offering his expertise in any way he can, even if it puts his own tail on the line. One of my favorite moments of the film is where Quarrel talks fearfully of the dragon of Crab Key and refuses to take Bond there, but when he sees how much Bond is counting on him, he concedes and honorably volunteers himself, despite that fear.

    Quarrel isn’t the most capable or the brightest Bond has worked alongside, but his loyalty and overall strength of character make him worthy of being remembered in the upper echelons of the Bond canon. A shining moment for Quarrel in my eyes is when “Freelance” breaks that camera bulb against the table and scratches it across his face in an attempt to hurt him. All Quarrel does, however, is wipe his face and look at the blood with indifference before he carries on with his work. His later death, and Bond’s anger at losing an ally such as him further underscores Quarrel’s value as a friend and ally to 007 in Jamaica. When Bond tells No that he’d be interested in joining the Revenge department of SPECTRE so that he could unleash himself on Quarrel’s killer, his statement sends a clear message: “You don’t mess with my friends.”


    Felix Leiter- Not much to say here about Jack Lord’s Leiter, I’m afraid. He blends in well, too well in some ways, and neither disappoints or adequately impresses. He just kind of exists there, helping Bond where he can. Lord does leave a mark though, in two great scenes at the start of Dr. No. First, we are introduced to him unconsciously as we see him spying on Bond in the airport. It’s hard to tell on first watch if he’s an enemy or friend, which adds a nice bit of mystery to the story as Bond himself is questioning who to trust after just landing in Jamaica. The second scene, and superior moment, is the image of Bond being held up at gunpoint by Leiter the very first time they meet, which I find cool and interesting. It really clicked hard for me in this viewing how cool it is that the cinematic Bond and Leiter first meet at the very beginning of their partnership (if you treat each era as interconnected canon) with their guns drawn. If Bond or Leiter make a bad move in that shack, the whole moment could’ve turned sour and their friendship never would’ve been jumpstarted. The moment is ripe with tension as we see Bond beaten and forced to hand over his gun, a rare moment of complete surrender on his part. A great relief and feeling of excitement is felt as Bond and Felix realize they are on the same side, and become fast friends.

    Out of all the Connery era Leiters, I do feel Lord’s was the one I wanted to see replicated consistently throughout the series. Lord and Connery both looked firm and in command here, like they could really handle the dangers of the job and deal out any of the knocks they took, so it’s very easy to see Leiter and Bond in Dr. No as being doppelgängers of each other, separated only by a “pond,” flag and agency, as it were. Essentially, Lord’s Felix feels like CIA’s James Bond more than any other Felix we’ve had.


    Ms. Taro- Had to make a special mention of one of my all time favorite minor players in the Bond series, brought to life by the exotic beauty of Zena Marshall. Ms. Taro carries a real femme fatal mystique about her in this film, and that works to her favor. Like Honey, she has a beautiful face that masks a certain sense of danger and the propensity for malevolence she can exert when she needs to.

    The moment where she attempts to put Bond into a trap as he drives to her home is one of my all time favorite sections of any Bond film ever. I adore the look of surprise Ms. Taro displays at seeing Bond alive, knowing The Three Blind Mice must be dead, a look that Bond spots and exploits. The scene shifts inside her home as Bond clues in to the scheme that was laid for him, and gives her hair a forceful, violent tug that masks itself as sexual foreplay. It’s fascinating to watch Bond and Taro both play each other here, as we know what game each are playing, and the cards they have in their deck. The bedroom scene that follows after the pair make love is a bit of a veiled verbal chess game between Bond and Taro as they battle for supremacy. She wants to stay put with him in the room to stall so that Dent can come and kill him, while he knows the trap is laid and wants to get out of there. The scene develops with a beautiful chain of small but impressive moments of scheming and mystery that build up between them, ending of course with Bond having the last laugh and tricking Taro into the hands of the Jamaican police. Immaculate.


    The Three Blind Mice- It’s funny to think that out of the entire history of James Bond, with its gadgets, Bond girls, villains, suits and cars, it all started with three faux blind hitmen walking down a Jamaican street Abbey Road-style seven years before The Beatles so much as thought of it.

    One of Fleming’s greatest creations are this trio of trained killers who deflect attention by playing handicapped, which is just a brilliant, brilliant idea. Add to that the fact that they’re driving a hearse when they first appear, and they are symbolically represented as true to form death-dealers. It’s a perfect example of Fleming blending the fantastical with the ordinary in a compelling way, creating a sense of escapism and wonder with this mysterious trio. It’s great fun to see The Three Blind Men trek around Jamaica in chase after Bond, only just brushing shoulders with him until the charming back projection chase sequence that leads to their demise, accompanied by that great one-liner from Bond.


    Strangways- Strangways is a unique character because we learn more about the other characters who are reacting to his demise than we ever do about the man himself. It’s evident that he’s a good British agent-he is willing to take risks with Crab Key and look into dirty dealings and keeps a consistent check-in with MI6-but it’s from his death that everything shoots out from.

    At the very beginning of the film, Dr. No feels more akin to a mystery than an espionage thriller in part because of Strangways. From the opening titles we’re propelled to Jamaica, where we see the peculiar but compelling image of The Three Blind Mice, and we meet Strangways for mere seconds before he’s shot fatally and whisked away. After that point, his death marks the big moment of plot propulsion where the murder victim’s demise triggers the detective (Bond in this case) to come out of the shadows and solve the crime.

    It could even be argued that Strangways has a greater effect after his death in an off screen presence than he does whenever he’s on screen. Through his death we learn of the danger of Dr. No, who at that point is a mystery to us as the viewer. And through Bond’s reaction to the man’s death, we see the first signs of the cinematic Bond’s dutiful nature and the conviction and passion with which he seeks to avenge the murder of his colleagues, because he won’t allow a soldier of the realm to be left without justice in death.


    Sylvia Trench- A woman with the distinction of being the first Bond girl, Eunice Gayson in body and Nikki van der Zyl in voice brought an allure to Trench visible from the very first moment we see her. She seems to be a well-off gal, willing to bet even more money against Bond in a game of baccarat she’s bound to lose, which shows a great sense of determination and lively spirit. She also slips into Bond’s place easy as can be, so she’s got to be resourceful.

    In addition, Trench’s main purpose beyond her beauty is to characterize Bond as a hedonist and man of travel. She drives Bond to have a quick shag before heading out to Jamaica, coloring him as the journeyman of the female form, and as we will see through her reappearance in From Russia With Love, Trench will forever represent the kind of woman Bond enjoys for a while at home base before the dangers, intrigue and excitement of foreign lands pull him away to greater duties and deadlier company on yet another mission.
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,574
    Last day before we move on? I think that's how it is working.

    Some really excellent observations on the film in this thread. I'm very impressed. I hope we keep it up throughout, and don't get too carried away with the vitriol when we reach the 'lesser' regarded Bond films. ;)

    Dr No is a superb start to the series, couldn't have asked for more if I'm honest. There was no formula to the films at this stage, so it's a real testament to Dr No that the series never abandoned what it gave us, it simply improved, enhanced or copied. Not always successfully of course.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    @NicNac, today will be the last day for Dr. No, yes, so until we officially starting talking From Russia with Love on Monday, I don't see why we couldn't continue discussing it. I'm trying to catch up here and there with the write-ups I've missed in that time, and will likely post a late review, as this week was a bit busy for me.

    Friday and Saturday will be the quiet period again for the thread where we will all watch From Russia With Love at some point during those two days, after which point we will state quick impressions about it before Monday comes again.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited October 2016 Posts: 15,696
    Final words on Dr No:

    This film gets so many things right, despite not having some of the most iconic elements (a PTS, a specific theme song for the film, John Barry, Desmond Llewelyn, the DB5). Connery's performance is pitch perfect, he is a fierce animal, a pure masculine figure. Moneypenny, M, Dr No and Quarrel already give defining performances that will be hard to beat in their respective character (Dr No for main villains, Quarrel for main allies). Let's see what happens in the next film when the budget will increase, and more iconic elements of the 'Bond formula' is introduced. Dr No, despite being the first film and made on a low budget, has managed to masterfully pave the way for the next 23 sequels.
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,574
    @NicNac, today will be the last day for Dr. No, yes, so until we officially starting talking From Russia with Love on Monday, I don't see why we couldn't continue discussing it. I'm trying to catch up here and there with the write-ups I've missed in that time, and will likely post a late review, as this week was a bit busy for me.

    Friday and Saturday will be the quiet period again for the thread where we will all watch From Russia With Love at some point during those two days, after which point we will state quick impressions about it before Monday comes again.

    Yes of course, that makes sense.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited October 2016 Posts: 23,883
    I've given a bit more thought to this over this past week. One thing I have discovered over the years is that some of the actors in this film were known to viewers (at least in the UK) through their tv work, and in appearances on shows like The Saint or Danger Man. So great though they were in this film, their performances were as good as what they had delivered elsewhere, at least from what I can tell.

    So what made DN so great? Why did it transcend it's time? Sure, there was the excellent cinematography, direction and location work, but that existed in other films of that era as well.

    In my opinion what really elevated DN and created the Bond film mythology and legend was Sean Connery.

    He was a new kind of film presence for that time. An unusual and very rare combination of cruel machismo and refined elegant class. A sort of unlikely cross between 1950's American rugged heroes like John Wayne and Clark Gable with a more polished British (or British born) suave elegance like Cary Grant. Something contradictory and yet incredibly fascinating. Something mesmerizing and inimitable. He defined a generation of screen heroes and even today, 50+ years later, arguably best embodies what one would expect in a British spy working for Her Majesty's Secret Service.

    I really don't believe that the Bond film legend would have exploded as it did in the 1960's without the superlative film presence of Connery.
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