The first James Bond film, Dr. No, debuted 50 years ago this month. Sean Connery’s delivery of the most popular line in cinema history never fails to make me smile. And Ursula Andress’ delivery from the warm Jamaican sea never fails to make me lap-smile.
Former Mr. Universe, Sean Connery got the role after producer Cubby Broccoli’s wife saw him in the Disney semi-classic, Darby O’Gill And The Little People. Dr. No set the tone for what would become the longest running franchise in film history. (Until I assume, some incarnation of the Paranormal Activity series.)
THE YEAR: 1962
THE VILLAIN: Dr. No. Joseph Wiseman is pretty awesome for a guy in half-Asian makeup.
THE GIRLS: Ursula Andress plays shell collector and bikini inventor, Honey Ryder. In the novel the character is named ‘Honeychile Rider’ because the nanny that raised her in a cellar speaks with an old-timey black dialect. Fleming’s novels are renowned for their taut prose, thrilling cold war tension, and GLARING racism.
THE GADGETS: Bond uses a Geiger counter in this film! Not very remarkable. But what is remarkable are Felix Leiter’s lady sunglasses.
THE PLOT: When investigating the death of a British Agent in Jamaica, Bond stumbles upon Dr. Julius No’s diabolical plan to destroy American space rockets. But I’m burying the lead, the film has a character named ‘Pussfeller.’
THE MUSIC: Monty Norman wrote the James Bond theme. John Barry orchestrated and arranged it. Or so holds the ruling of the judge that presided over this dispute. But the proof is in the pudding. The weird, weird pudding that was the James Bond theme before it was the James Bond theme - as written by Norman for a musical called A House For Mr. Biswas.
I don’t have a ton to say about Dr. No. It’s a really solid film. And while it birthed many of the Bond elements we’ve come to love, it’s not as interesting and dynamic as the next few installments.
FUN FACT: In the background of Dr. No’s dining room lair, you can see Goya’s painting, The Duke Of Wellington. It had just been stolen in real life, so production designer Ken Adam included a copy to add to Dr. No’s criminal mystique. • There was no regular FACT option on that one because it is indisputably fun.