Cast & Credits
Sean Connery James Bond
Ursula Andress Honey Ryder
Joseph Wiseman Dr. No
Jack Lord Felix Leiter
Directed by Terence Young
Original Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
A gun barrel is in the upper left hand corner of the screen. In it is a well dressed man in a bowler hat walking casually. Suddenly he pivots quickly on his foot, pulls out a pistol, and shoots. Blood falls over the gun barrel. Then one of the most memorable themes in motion picture history starts up. It is played by the John Barry Orchestra. Monty Norman gets credit for writing the theme, but it's John Barry's arrangement that puts it over the top. During the theme, a magical title sequence by Maurice Binder is also being orchestrated. Multi-colored circles dance around the screen which soon give way to the silhouettes of actual dancers. The theme song gives way to "Underneath the Mango Tree", and it in turn gives way to Monty Norman's calypso take on "Three Blind Mice". All of this takes place before the actual movie even starts. If this doesn't get you pumped up for what's coming, I don't know what will.
In the first scene we see three blind beggars while "Three Blind Mice" is still playing. Soon we find out that they really aren't blind at all. They assassinate a gentleman named Commander Strangways as he's leaving a club to meet with his employer. It turns out that Strangways is the head British secret service in Jamaica. He was headed back to his place to give a radio message to his superiors as he does every other day at this time to let them know that things are going smoothly. He obviously doesn't make it and the lady working for him also gets shot dead. A file on a certain Dr. No is stolen. When the secret service doesn't get in contact with Strangways they decide to look into the matter.
A man is sent to a high end casino to collect British agent James Bond. The camera shows the back of the head of a man that's cleaning up at chemin de fir, which is a type of baccarat (imagine that). He says to the lady that he's destroying at the table, "I admire your courage Miss..."
The woman replies, "Trench, Sylvia Trench. I admire you luck Mr..."
"Bond, James Bond."
We finally see Bond's face as he lights a cigarette. After winning a couple of more hands he is called from the table. He is summoned off to duty.
Bond arrives at his place of employment and we are introduced to a couple of characters which will become mainstays in the series. Spunky secretary Miss Moneypenny is played wonderfully by Lois Maxwell. After her and Bond have a brief scene of flirtation he is called into M's office. For those of you who don't know, M's the boss and he is played brilliantly by Bernard Lee. He has the presence of a strong authority figure that even Bond himself has to have respect for. M explains to Bond the situation with Strangways and that American missiles are being toppled. This means that a radio beam is being used to throw off the gyroscopic controls of a missle. It turns out that this is what Strangways was investigating when he was murdered. Bond is sent to find out if this was a coincidence or not.
For a good part of the film Bond runs around trying to piece things together. In the process he punches out a phoney chauffeur that eats a cyanide cigarette, gets chased by our three "blind" assassins, has a close enconter with a poisonous tarantula, and seduces two women. This leads up to one of my favorite scenes in the movie where Bond sets up three pillows in a bed to make it look like he's sleeping in it to find out who wants him dead. Dr. No underling Professor Dent unloads his gun into the pilows and Bond asks him a couple of questions. Dent tries to shoot Bond with an empty gun and instead of bringing him in for questioning or anything like that, Bond shoots him in cold blood. I know that people often refer to the Man With No Name as the original anti-hero in cinema, but this proceeded him by several years. Mr. Bond wasn't the guy with the white hat at all, was he?
So Bond follows leads given by the events past and goes to Crab Key, which is an island owned by the mysterious figure known as Dr. No. Shortly after he arrives we become witnesses to one of the most iconic scenes in movie history. I don't think that I'm exaggerating either. Out of the crystal blue waters of the Carribean comes a glistening, golden-brown blonde beauty in a white bikini with a knife on her belt. She drops a couple of shells to the sand and starts singing "Underneath the Mango Tree". This scene gives me a chill up my spine every time that I see it. It shows the beauty of nature, the female body, and music all in one. The young lady is Honey Ryder and she is an orphan who makes a living off of diving for sea shells.
Shortly after this, Bond and Honey are captured by a fire breathing dragon. It's actually a tank that's made up to look like a dragon. After a decontaminaton shower to remove the radiation on them, being escorted to a mink-lined prison, and being drugged we finally see Dr. No's feet 1 hour and 24 minutes into the 1 hour and 50 minute movie. We actually get to see his face three minutes later. This is the main problem with the movie. As good as it is, it takes way too long to get to Dr. No.
The dinner scene with Bond and Dr. No is fantastic. Dr. No explains how he is the offspring of German and Chinese parents. Despite this, he ascended to the become the treasurer of the Tongs. He fled to America with $10 million of their gold. He uses the money to finance his missile toppling and in an unfotunate accident with radiation he lost his hands. He also explains that he's working for SPECTRE - SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence Revenge and Extortion. It's lead by the greatest criminal minds in the world. When Bond says that he prefers the revenge department and brings up Strangways, Dr. No calls him a stupid policeman. It eventually breaks down into a fight over which year of Dom Perignon is better.
Just as it looks like Bond and Honey are done for, James finds a way out of it. I won't give everything away, but I'll say that there's a grueling battle between Bond and Dr. No that lasts shorter than a Super Bowl commercial.
I loved this movie. It had by far the lowest budget out of all of the Bond movies and maybe not the most action, but it's full of life. Terence Young's direction is unique. It's almost as if he hated close ups and only allowed his camera men to shoot medium and far shots. This makes the sets and the beautiful island of Jamaica as much of a character as the actors. Speaking of actors, Sean Connery is the real draw in this movie. His acting is brilliant. Every second of the film he comes across as intelligent, charming, witty, and deadly. It's a delicate balance playing james Bond and he does it perfectly. He even does it without gadgets in Dr. No.
4 out of 5 Above average for a Bond movie - This movie is well written, well acted, has a great soundtrack, and has intriguing characters. It starts off a little slow, but that's no fault of the film since a lot of characters are being introduced for the first time. The one draw back though is that we don't get to see nearly enough of Dr. No.
When the three assassins throw Strangways into the back of the Hearse, you can see huge light in the window of the car as it drives off.
When Bond punches chauffeur Mr. Jones, he throws the punch with his right hand and lands it with his left.
When getting out of the decontamination shower, a supposedly nude Honey Ryder is wearing a dark gold one piece bathing suit.
James Bond will return next Monday in From Russia with Love
Proud member of the SONIC SUPPORT SQUAD
Tag "Sorry man. Someone pissed in my Wheaties."
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