A landmark film, "Dr. No" (1962) introduced Ian Fleming's 007 to cinema audiences. Despite the author's initial objections, Sean Connery defined the character of James Bond with his remarkably self-assured performance. Ursula Andress' iconic beauty and Joseph Wiseman's restrained villainy were equally memorable. Thanks to the contributions of director Terence Young, set designer Ken Adam, editor Peter Hunt and composer John Barry, the 007 style was immediately established in this Jamaican adventure. Producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli should be applauded for getting the most out of their limited budget. "Dr. No" succeeds as an unpretentious spy thriller — minus the gadgetry and gimmicks in later Bond outings. The film's impact on popular culture cannot be underestimated.
From the opening strains of The James Bond Theme over the first gunbarrel opening, Dr. No propels the audience into the world of James Bond. The trio of Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger got the series started with a bang and created a standard that has never quite been matched, even by great later entries like On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only. Director Terence Young's tough, violent tone in Dr. No does Ian Fleming's books proud and it's unfortunate that that tone wasn't maintained throughout the series. The locations, editing and casting are top notch. The only way the film really fails is in the casting of the wooden Jack Lord as Felix Leiter. In the books Leiter was a tall, blone, skinny gregarious Texan. Lord, in contrast, looks like he wandered off the set of Hawaii-Five-0 onto this film. Luckily, Leiter isn't that important to the film, so any negative effect is minimal.
However, Dr. No owes its success chiefly to two moments -- two of the greatest entrances in screen history. One is Honey Ryder's (Ursula Andress) entrance on the beach on Dr. No's Crab Key. Andress immediately became an object of desire for millions of red blooded males with her tanned sensuous body and skimpy bikini (in the book Dr. No, Ryder was naked). After 42 years and god knows how many sexy women, Andress' Ryder is still the standard. And unlike so many of the later Bond heroines, Andress' Ryder is a tough, intelligent woman who can take care of herself. When Bond promises he won't take the shells she sells to support herself, Andress answers, "I promise you you won't, either." Later, when she tells of killing her rapist with a black widow spider, even Bond recoils in mild shock. Andress' entrance opens the concluding act of the film and creates one of the more memorable Bond heroines of all time.
The moment that defines the film and is probably one of the greatest moments in screen history is, of course, Sean Connery's entrance as James Bond. Legend has it that Ian Fleming was horrified when he met Sean Connery, but quickly changed his tune when he saw his entrance as James Bond onscreen. Connery says the famous line "Bond, James Bond" with such confidence and sex appeal, he instantly burns his mark into the series (which turned out to be a double edged sword when he tried to work outside the series). Next to Orson Welles' entrance in The Third Man, Connery's entrance in Dr. No is probably the best. Every time the clip is shown at the Academy Awards or other such award show, it still draws applause from the audience. It isn't a stretch to call it a landmark in film history.
on February 2, 2001
Sean Connery, bless him, has a career spanning nearly 50 years. From "South Pacific" chorus boy to B-movie heavies to James Bond to bearded father figure, he has made quite a few movies: some good, some great, a lot of not-so-great, but the great Scot still has box-office draw. "Dr. No", the first big-screen James Bond film, made an instant star of Mr. Connery. It's easy to see why! The film, while a little slow-starting, is mercifully nearly "gadget-free", is shot in picturesque Jamaica, and introduced that gorgeous blonde Amazon Ursula Andress to the world, clad in the now-legendary white bikini, a sort of Aryan Girl from Ipanema. And then, of course, there is Mr. Connery. Six-foot two inches tall, with his "dark, cruel good looks", (as one film producer described him), hairy chest, and very wise deadpan delivery of his lines, is a breathtaking natural wonder. This comic book for adults, as opposed to the later Bond films with Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, et al, which, in my opinion, are comic books for adolescent boys, is highly entertaining. It is also "of its time", which is why I felt the series should have ended with "Thunderball". This was a time of big cars with tailfins, ice-cold cocktails served on low-slung cocktail tables, sharkskin suits, and girls with "hairdos". In my opinion, when Roger Moore inherited the role, the series lost its edge. Mr. Moore, a very handsome, capable actor, was too "gentlemanly to a fault" in the role, and the silly smirkiness of the scripts and too-obvious monikers like "Holly Goodhead" and "Jaws" smacked more of Malibu than Ian Fleming. The overabundance of car chases, explosions, and gadgets detracted, rather than added to, the decline of the series. And besides, how many times can you draw from the well? It's long run dry! But now for the "Dr No" DVD-gorgeous picture and sound quality, beautifully done menu graphics, dozens of candid stills, and the documentary are all part of this Valentine to the first Bond outing. And Sean Connery-a good argument for the benefits of human cloning!
on October 23, 2008
My comments apply only to the newly released Blu Ray version.
I will not review the film it's self since everyone has no doubt seen it at least once.
I have waited 2 years for the Bond films to be released in a HD format, and the waite was worth it.
The picture quality of this old film is simply awesome. The color saturation, the "depth" and contrast are very film-like.
I felt like I was discovering the film for the very first time.
Watching it on my 60'' display, it looked like I was seeing a brand new, fresh from the lab, film print in my own living room.
And it gets better, I am told (but havent viewed my copy yet) that Thunderball looks even better.
If you are a Connery James Bond fan, and own Blu Ray, this is a no-brainer.
Highest possible recommendation, and Amazon has it for a good price.
on January 1, 2007
I always considered DR. NO to be one of the better Bond films and closer to the literary James Bond created by Ian Fleming. Sean Connery's performance is that of the no-nonsense dedicated civil servant. His screen presence alone conveys the physical, intellectual and moral conviction of the character. He is essentially a modern day version of the white knight slaying the dragon for Queen and country.
Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No is one of the best villains of the series. His steel mono-toned performance is eerily unsettling. He remains one of the most enigmatic villains in the series. He is a villain moved more by unfounded revenge than by greed or riches. You almost sympathize with him as he makes futile overtures to Bond imploring him to join his organization. It seems that Bond is the only man capable of appreciating his intellect. Not even Dr. No's backers, Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are worthy of his talents.
Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder leaves one of the most indelible images of the series as she emerges from the sea clad in her white bikini. She is characterized by the simplicity of her goodness and naivet' as she is drawn into a vortex of worldliness that Bond further engulfs her in. Rather than that of a supposed sex object, she exudes a raw femininity found only in nature. Bond can not help but feel that he has corrupted her both deliberately and inadvertently in his blind quest to revenge the deaths of fellow agents. This is the very strength of Richard Maibaum's script, here and on subsequent Bond films.
These films, the better ones, are about Bond, his adversaries, his loves and his friendships. Jack Lord was the first of many actors to play Felix Leiter, Bond's CIA friend. "Friend" in the world of James Bond is not a word used casually. Lord seemed the one actor to visually convey the camaraderie that existed between these two characters. John Kitzmiller gave a very good performance as the loyal Quarrel, one of the most important characters in he entire series. This character epitomized the dormant qualities found in the instincts of the common man. When called upon in the death struggle of good vs. evil he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent seems perfect as a man who knew better than fall into an inescapable web of subterfuge that Dr. No has spread from his island to the mainland. Zena Marshall as Miss Taro is a more willing participant, as she appears eager to overtly display her sensuality and share her sexual appetites openly with Bond. She is supposed to lure Bond to his death. Finding this not the case she enthusiastically offers herself to Bond. It is in these scenes that Sean Connery displays a certain animal screen presence that no other actor has ever equaled in the role.
Many elements that distinguish a James Bond movie were introduced in this film. The opening gun barrel trademark, "The James Bond Theme," Bernard Lee's portrayal of the inimitable M, Lois Maxwell's portrayal of the desirable Miss Moneypenny, Ken Adam's innovative and distinctive production designs, Maurice Binder's unique main titles, the "Martinis shaken not stirred," just to name a few are all here.
Director, Terence Young, always boasted and took relish in how he supposedly shaped the look and feel of the James Bond series. This is quite possibly true when looking at DR. NO. It is a film visually rich with well-detailed and defined characters. It also has an uncanny feel for the settings inspired from the Ian Fleming novels whether it be Bond's intelligence headquarters in London, the exotic sights and sounds of Jamaica or the incongruity of Dr. No's plush lair hidden in the mosquito invested swamps of Crabe Key.
DR. NO is also characterized by quick paced editing by Peter Hunt. Hunt's innovative technique keeps the story moving visually and unobtrusively which also further defines the cinematic world of James Bond.
But coming full circle, it is Sean Connery's performance and screen presence that intrigues and captures the imagination of the viewer. Given the sets, the music, the script, the locations and all the other elements, it all comes down to how Sean Connery fits and moves through this cinematic world that has been created for James Bond. Sean Connery's performance is indeed that of Britain's dedicated civil servant. DR. NO is the benchmark.
The restoration of the picture and sound on this DVD edition of DR. NO s outstanding. The images are outstanding. A very good job was done re-mastering the sound in digital stereo. There is very good stereo separation. The extras are pretty good too concentrating a lot on Ian Fleming's creation of James Bond.
Outside of Bond fandom very few people know that Sean Connery was actually the second actor to play the character of James Bond. In the 1950s there had been a television production based around Ian Fleming's first spy novel "Casino Royale" in which American actor Barry Nelson had played 007 as a US spy with Clarence Leiter as his British counterpart.
Fast forward to the early 1960s and work is once again getting underway to bring the fictional spy to the screen. Cast in the lead role is what one UA executive referred to as a "lorry driver" and with a small budget (a measly $1 million) there seems to be little hope for the fledgling franchise. Yet when Doctor No (the final choice for the first of the series) hits screens it changes the film industry, sending reverberations the likes of which are still being felt today.
Staying largely faithful to the Fleming book of the same name (something that was not to last) the rather modest movie set screens afire, helped enormously by the performances of Sean Connery and Swiss beauty Ursula Andress. In fact for many, Andress is the quintessential Bond girl, establishing one of cinema's most iconic images as she emerges from the sea in a white bikini).
Right away the trademark violence is evident as three assassins murder a British operative and his pretty secretary in Jamaica. The break in communication has the British nervous and they send for their top agent.
Switch to a smoky casino in London. And we see the back of a man, his hands moving his cards about the table and then taking a cigarette out of its case. Lighting it he is fully revealed and the trademark line "Bond, James Bond" is heard on cinema screens for the very first time.
Arriving in Jamaica Bond learns that the missing operative was investigating the mysterious character of Doctor No who operates from a private island named Crab Key. Determined to learn the truth he arranges to sneak onto the island with his colleague Quarrel to discover the truth behind the disappearance.
Taken on its own Doctor No is a nice, taut, suspenseful movie with some wonderful performances from its leads. New York actor Joseph Wiseman is particularly chilling as the title character with his metal hands (some disfigurement or quirk has since become a necessity for Bond villains). Taken as the initial outing in a franchise the movie is a low-key effort that ably sets the stage for the films that were to follow. Today this movie rarely tops people's lists as a favorite in the series, but that is largely because in the ensuing years the Bond series came to mean spectacle and special effects, often at the expense of good storytelling.
Initially released on DVD in the cardboard snapper cases with only Bond trivia to complement it, in 2000 MGM did the movie justice by reissuing it as a special edition with improved video and audio and a nice collection of extra's. For the time the Bond special editions were considered the "cream of the crop" as far as DVD releases were concerned.
Here we have an audio commentary which is comprised of spliced together interviews from earlier - many behind the camera had since passed on including director Terence Young. Added to that is a documentary on the making of the movie including on-camera interviews, some archival and some new and a documentary on the aforementioned director. Rounding out the set us the usual collection of promotional material.
An easy movie and DVD to recommend.
On a sidenote - work is currently underway by Lowry Digital to restore this movie, if audio and video is of primary importance to you then you might want to wait until that is released in 2006.
on February 9, 2006
This one remains my favorite from my 007 list (which only includes those with Connery and Brosnan). Dr. No is the perfect introduction of the entire James Bond series. From the beginning of this movie you will come across gadgets that only 007 can have, girls that only 007 can date, and troubles that only 007 can handle!
Sean Connery plays role of an MI6 agent who will do any thing for his Majesty's order. His acting was improved in the later movies like Gold Finger, and Thunderball, but he still manages to pull the show brilliantly in this movie. Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder looked stunning from the scene one of her appearance. However, my favorite in all the James Bond series is still the sweetest female of all "Lois Maxwell" as Miss Moneypenny!
My favorite soundtracks are: "Underneath the mango tree", "Jump Up", and the "The Island Speaks". Overall, a DVD worth adding to your collection and a must if you are a Bond fan too!
on October 7, 2009
I won't bother with the details of this movie. It is an all time 007 classic to say the least. The Blu Ray version of this film is absolutely stunning and spectacular. Viewing it on your HDTV will make you feel like you are on actually on the set while the filming is taking place. The scenes filmed outside are gorgeous and filled with deep, rich natural colors...unbelievable....and what can I say about the infamous Honey Ryder beach scene? My jaw was on the floor and I felt as if I was on the beach with the characters. Top to bottom, you won't be disappointed at all. The extras on the Blu Ray are great too. Highlights from the extras are: (1) Behind the scenes at Lowry Digital Films which talked about the process for restoring the original film with before and after scenes from the restoration; how they did some of their "magic" was beyond me but I'm so thankful for it. Geeks will appreciate the views of Lowry's operation center with 500+/- G5s, 300+ G4s, and 1GB ethernet network connecting it all. (2) Backstory of how Dr. No came to be on the big screen which included in-depth interviews with several of the actual producers, writers, actors, and players involved. How impressed was I overall with the Blu Ray version of Dr. No? I haven't written a review on amazon.com since March 2006 and was compelled to do so for this version of the film. I will definitely be buying the Blu Ray version of "Goldfinger" (which Lowry Digital re-did as well).
on February 1, 2016
A few weeks ago, I decided to actually go and read the series of original James Bond novels written by Ian Fleming out of a long held curiosity to see how the literary originals compared to the later EON movie productions. While Dr. No was not the first of the Fleming books, it was the first movie, and as such, I think did perhaps the best job of capturing Fleming's vision of Bond on the big screen. The original Bond books do not have a lot of fancy gadgetry or a lot of "double entendre" dialog, but remain compelling nonetheless. I felt that Dr. No stayed fairly true to the author's vision of Bond, and just enjoyed this cinema version, (seeing it with a new perspective), in a new way. Now having read a number of Fleming's books, it is hard to imagine anyone other than Sean Connery as 007, even if I admire Daniel Craig's rendition of a more "modern" take on Bond. While the premise of most Bond films can be a bit outlandish, I thought Dr. No was a good story, and quite frankly, just good entertainment. I think this movie can now be considered a minor classic, and more than fulfilled that ambition of bringing Mr. Bond to the big screen in a very memorable way.
on October 3, 2012
I've been a fan of James Bond for many years and have owned/watched them many times on VHS, DVD, in the theater but this new restoration/transfer is like watching them for the first time. The improved clarity and colors of the transfer is amazing! Recommended for any fan who hasn't taken the plunge. Also, although the new collectors set is a great deal, I'm a Sean Connery fan so I like the option of just purchasing the movies I want.