For today’s 3rd review of Dr. No, here’s a review of the first “real” Bond movie by Tom of Digital Shortbread
Number of Times Seen – 1 (October 27, 2014), Netflix.
Brief Synopsis – A suave and skilled government agent named James Bond, looks for answers about a missing colleague and the disruption of the American space program.
My Take on It – I am a little embarrassed to admit I hadn’t seen Bond’s introductory mission until about a month ago. Thanks to the wonderful invention of Netflix, once again I was able to bring myself up to speed on where things began for 007 and MI-6; I was able to save face. After all, what kind of Bond fan would I be without seeing the origins? (Also, what kind of honest reviewer would I be if I didn’t admit this truth to you all?)
And now, with MovieRob’s fantastic idea to host a James Bond blogathon to cap off this year, I figured this would be the place to throw my hat into the early-days-of-James-Bond ring.
Sean Connery is, of course, Bond. In this reviewer’s eyes he’ll forever be the one who can get away with that much-repeated, much-redundant introduction “the name’s Bond. James Bond.” Well no shit, Shirlock. You are the best-dressed person in the room by a long shot, always and without fail. Although it *is* cool each and every time this actor drops the line.
Connery just oozes sophistication in this overtly cheesy but —SPECTREacularly fun (albeit thematically dodgy) debut for the world’s most dangerous man with a Walther PPK. (I’m probably going to get back to DSB later to find out I’ve lost followers with that last pun, that one was bad!)
007 is tasked with finding out whatever happened to a British intelligence officer after his disappearance in Jamaica. M (back in the day, the letter seemingly stood for ‘male’) orders Bond to investigate if the occurrence is in any way related to another mysterious event, the disruption of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral. In the process, he comes across multiple attempts on his life — including one of the only major issues I had with this film, the death-by-tarantula idea (which is completely silly when considering that these spiders, while positively terrifying-looking, are actually devoid of venom) — as well as a couple of double-crossing agents who ultimately reveal their intentions to assist Bond on his mission (hello, Felix Leiter, though you’re not supposed to be in this story yet); and a — wait for it — blonde bombshell in the form of Honey Ryder (hello, Ursula Andress!).
His sneaking around ultimately leads him into the underground lair (where else?) of the one and only Dr. No, who unfortunately suffers a case of anticlimactic introduction thanks undoubtedly to the thick air of mystery he is shrouded in for most of the film. There’s quite the anticipation for this man to appear, but when he does it just doesn’t quite hit like it ought to. Particularly as this is one of the first true villains Bond is to face. However, and more to the point, Dr. No ought to be viewed as more of an introductory piece. We’ll see more of Dr. No and find out more of his involvement with the shady S.P.E.C.T.R.E. operation in the forthcoming films.
My major gripe with the early hey-day (if you want to slap that label on the franchise) of James Bond will forever remain with its inability to frame women as singular objects of Bond’s affection. It’s plain offensive (must be doubly-so as I am not a woman. . .at least I don’t think I am. . .) and at times cringe-inducingly so. I’ve read reviews elsewhere frequently citing Andress’ character as being one of the more inept Bond girls, and her beauty seems almost directly proportional to how dumb she is. Still, it’s one of the little pills Bond fans eventually swallow and it’s not enough to reduce the fun factor of Dr. No, the first of many collaborations between producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Well, maybe it impinges upon its quality just a little, but not significantly enough for me to say avoid this film.
I can now say, without feeling too guilty about it, that I have thoroughly enjoyed my “first” James Bond film.
Bottom Line – James Bond’s first outing goes off without many hitches. Fun, exciting, at times pretty tense and always visually stylish, Terence Young’s spy-action thriller features many of the hallmark traits the franchise will become famous (and infamous) for over the decades coming. Check it out, a must-see for those with a passion for Bond-age.
Rating – Globe-worthy