Dr. No is directed by Terence Young and co-adapted to screenplay by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood & Berkely Mather from the novel of the same name written by Ian Fleming. It stars Sean Connery, Joseph Wiseman, Ursula Andress, Jack Lord & John Kitzmiller. Music is by Monty Norman and cinematography by Ted Moore.
And so it all began here, what was until Harry Potter arrived on the scene, the most successful film franchise in history. James Bond, a name that would become synonymous with suave spies, deranged villains, beautiful women, exotic locations, gadgets, cars and sex. Ian Fleming's James Bond novels were big come the end of 1961, yet producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman met some resistance from studios. It was never plain sailing, even after release the film garnered mixed reviews, but word of mouth and condemnation by the Vatican and the Kremlin propelled it to being one of the surprise hits of 62/63. At the box office it made £60 million Worldwide, this after being made on a budget of only £1 million.
Plot basically sees Connery's Bond flying out to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of agent Strangways (Timothy Moxon). Once there he finds a case of murder is to be investigated and evidence points to the mysterious Dr. No (Wiseman), who resides on Crab Quay island, a place feared by the superstitious locals. Bond must keep his wits about him as he gets closer to the truth, for there are many obstacles in his way and not everyone can be trusted. Cue the suave and athletic Mr. Bond getting involved with lovely ladies, dicing with death, making friends, making enemies and just generally being an all round awesome anti-hero.
SPECTRE: Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.
There are a number of changes from the book and some censor appeasement was required to get the film a certificate enabling youngsters to see the film with an adult. What Dr. No rounds out as is a jolly good spy/action movie yarn. Some of the hints are there for what would make Bond such a profitable and well loved franchise, but there's no sign of the gadgetry, tricks and japes that would fill out so many of the titles that followed Dr. No. Here Bond is just armed with his Walter PPK 7.65MM pistol, Sunbeam Alpine car and his bravado and nouse.
Some future stalwart characters are given modest introductions (M, Felix Leiter, Monneypenney) and Ursula Andress sets the marker for all future Bond girls to follow. Ted Moore's capturing of the Jamaica location is sumptuous, something that really comes to the fore on the remastered DVD edition of the film. Connery is supremely cool and fearless, the theme tune and gun barrel opening are already in place, and Terence Young, who directs three of the first four Bond movies, keeps it zippy and suspenseful when story gathers up a flame throwing tank, car chases, fights and a quite brilliant tarantula sequence.
Quite a debut, uneven at times as it begins to find its feet, but even if it wasn't the first James Bond movie it would hold up as an entertaining bit of secret agent shenanigans. 7.5/10