It’s back to the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book to check in with the Action genre, and consequently, I get to spend some tine with secret agent 007. Bond, James Bond.
Sean Connery brings Ian Flemings’s spy to the big screen in Dr. No, the first recommendation for the previously reviewed Goldfinger. The first film in what would be an ongoing film franchise feels decidedly small when compared to later entries in the series, even Goldfinger.
Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the death of some MI6 agents, and finds himself in a rocket toppling scheme overseen by the nefarious Doctor No (Joseph Wiseman). He is aided by CIA agent Felix Leitet (Jack Lord) and the beautiful Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress).
Some of the film hasn’t aged well, there’s a hint of racism, and the action beats are a little sparse, though Bond is particularly vicious. I love how he disposes of Dent (Anthony Dawson).
Despite feeling smaller than the films that would follow it, the movie is still incredibly entertaining and Connery owns the role as soon as he steps on-screen. There are explosions, car chases, beautiful women, the classic theme and exotic locales. Everything that would become trademarks of the series.
Not everything works, the tarantula scene is very obviously not crawling on Connery’s arm, the ‘dragon’ could only have fooled someone if they had never seen a car or a tank, and that’s just the big stuff.
That being said, I do love this movie. I can find things in almost all the Bond films that I enjoy, and this one is no exception. There are great moments, Lord’s Leiter feels like he’s ready to burst off the screen and into his own series, Andress’ entrance – nothing short of singularly iconic, just like Connery’s first on-screen line.
Storytelling over the decades would become tighter and more intricate, and it’s almost refreshing with how simple this introductory film is. And while Fleming may not have been a fan of the first film, there was no denying that it found its audience – all over the world – and they wanted more.
Connery was launched to super stardom with this role, and his life will always be connected with his on-screen alter ego,
The film, brazenly announced at its end that James Bond Will Return – a tag that would serve as a promise at the end of every film in the series… and here we are over 50 years on, anticipating the next one – Bond25.