Dr No (1962) Film Review

The first film in the James Bond saga that has lasted over 50 years, it is interesting to see where it all started. The film that created the successful formula of one of the most culturally important characters in cinema. It’s Bond, James Bond.

After an Mi6 officer and his secretary is assassinated in Jamaica and files are stolen that contain information about Dr No and the Crab Key, James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate who killed the Mi6 officer. The island is fraught with fear over the guise of Dr No, a Chinese/German scientist planning to meddle with American rockets.

First of all, it is interesting to see where it all started, Dr No created the successful formula of James Bond, the catchphrases, the mannerisms, the bond girl. James Bond is based on Ian Fleming’s novels but the translation to screen exuberates James Bond’s cool and suave nature. James Bond is a problematic character and regressive in his misogyny but set in context his overwhelming confidence is one to be desired.

Sean Connery is by far the best Bond and Dr No is a perfect example of this. His cocky demeanor, calm body language, silky smooth dialogue and confident expression is the building blocks that make a good Bond. For any boy watching this, James Bond gets the girls, makes money and saves the day, what more do you want?

Being the first James Bond film it had a terrible low budget of just over one million dollars. You can tell that it had to make sacrifices because of it. The action was muted, there was a lot of dialogue and the pacing at times was very slow. There were also some laughable editing and sluggish fight scenes. I do know it was made in 1962 but some scenes were just bad. Some actually were enjoyable to watch, my favourite was the scene with the aquarium, the screen magnifies the goldfish to make them seem giant and there was actually a line of dialogue that explains that it is just that. It’s hard to believe that an evil mastermind couldn’t afford sharks, well the studio couldn’t.

This film is iconic, it was the seed that created a phenomenon. Ursula Andress coming out of the sea in that bikini is one of the most iconic scenes in cinema. Alongside that we get the first cinematic presentation of the coolest secret agent ever put onto film. The movie is complemented by filming in the gorgeous scenery of Jamaica. James Bond was hugely influential in kick starting the spy genre in cinema and has Dr No to thank for it.

Dr No is a great time capsule that explains the origins of all of Bond’s mannerism’s and character. This original formula has been copied 23 times and has been financially successful. The film is not perfect due to budget and hasn’t aged too well but it is still an enjoyable fare that paved the way for much greater Bond films.


Rating – ★★★

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