Bond, James Bond – Doctah No!

With the viewing of Quantum of Solace and Smith Michael’s fairly hyperbolic reaction to the film, I’m finally going to get around to beginning my review of every James Bond film.  At 25 films including the unofficial spin-offs like Never Say Never Again and the Peter Sellers Casino Royale, it is the longest running major motion picture franchise that I’m aware of, and certainly one of the most perinnially popular.  So we begin at the first film: Dr. No.

Year: 1962

Bond Actor: Sean Connery (Age:32)

Martini Count: 1 (Plus 1 failed attempted at ordering one)

Women Slept With: 3

Villain’s Evil Scheme: To use radiation to disrupt US Missile Launches and Space Program

The original James Bond film is also the closest you are likely to get to Iam Fleming’s Bond ever.  It was the trendsetter, and wasn’t constrained by the various “traditional” Bond elements and camp that developped later.  Dr. No’s Bond is a mix of almost realistic high level espionage and super spy novels.  Outside of 007 the spies in this are as much bureaucrats as they are secret agents.  They have secretaries and play bridge with the Governor; gather intelligence on fishing trips and word of mouth rather than shooting or beating anyone; file reports using technical jargon and utilize signals intelligence.  M is less the preturbed handler that he becomes and more a civil servant, looking to maximize the productivity of his agents as much as complete the mission.  Even the dastarly plan would be fairly plausible if the science behind it weren’t so ridiculous.

No’s Bond is definitely Fleming’s Bond, and in fact most of the men in the film fit Fleming’s ideal man type.  Quarrel the local sidekick to Bond knows the street level and takes a rock to the face without flinching.  Felix Lighter is skilled enough to get the drop on Bond, then helpful and cordial when he discover’s Bond’s affiliation.  Even Dr. No is as polite as he is brilliant and treats his guests well until pushed too far by Bond’s goading.  Bond himself is completely hard:  he shoots (technically) unarmed men, then shoots them again in the back as they lay on the ground for good measure; he sleeps with a woman he knows to be a double agent twice before turning her in; he watches his faithful sidekick Quarrel burn alive without a glimmer of remorse; he willingly takes what in reality would be a leathal dose of radiation to stop No’s plan.  Bond is irresistable to the women he barely cares about, completely competant and deadly, and never held back by any sort of sentimentality.

I will be honest, not everything holds up under the test of time.  The idea of a tank plausibly passing for a Dragon is dumb, there’s tons of misogyny, and the use of British actor’s with their eyes taped back as the film’s Asians is insulting (not that we won’t see it again).  The day for night shooting is only interesting to film buffs, and as a kid I definitely thought this the most uninteresting Bond film.  Overall though, this was a film made in 1962 that in the end is still one of the strongest and least campy Bond films.  Hell, even if you don’t like the simpler, more basic style super-spy film there’s Ursula Andress in a bikini and see through wet-tshirt to distract you.

Bond Rating: SPECTR out of SPECTRE

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4 Comments on “Bond, James Bond – Doctah No!”

  1. you did not mention the sheer racism of having a white guy play an asian guy.

  2. Tito says:

    Yeah he did. But its still not as offensive here as it is in “You Only Live Twice.”

  3. (indeed he did)

    live and let die is pretty racist too.


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