Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “Dr. No”

(MGM. 1962/2007. 1 hour, 50 minutes. Rated PG. 1 Disc. Directed by Terence Young.) Sean Connery (James Bond), Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder), Joseph Wiseman (Dr. No), Jack Lord (Felix Leiter), Eunice Gayson (Sylvia Trench), Bernard Lee ("M"), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny). Music by Monty Norman.

The first film appearance of the iconic James Bond, British secret agent with a license to kill. 007 is called to Jamaica to investigate the murder of a colleague and his secretary. With the help of CIA agent Felix Leiter, Bond attempts to thwart the schemes of the nefarious Dr. No, who’s plotting to blackmail the U.S. government with a device capable of destroying rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. I used to dismiss Dr. No as lesser Bond, because it’s before he had “Q,” the gadgets, the Aston Martin, John Barry’s lush music, etc. Upon recent viewing, I’ve reconsidered: it’s a strong entry in the series. Of course it’s the first time you hear “My name is Bond…James Bond” and also recurring characters “M” (Lee strikes the right tone of admiration and frustration with Bond’s exploits) and Miss Moneypenny (Maxwell’s always charming in her flirtations with Bond). There are the women of course: stunning brunette Sylvia Trench (who pops up again in From Russia With Love) and beautiful blonde Honey Ryder, whose entrance from the Jamaican waters (Andress in a homemade bikini) is still remarkable 46 years later. (Has it really been 46 years? Yikes.) Yes, that’s Jack Lord, pre-Hawaii Five-O, as Leiter, another recurring character (who would be played by a different actor in each subsequent appearance). At the center of it all is Connery: the former truck driver and bodybuilder had appeared in a few minor films. He turned out to be the perfect choice: tall and athletic, his Bond was handsome in a rugged way and could be rough (when killing), or effortlessly smooth (when seducing). We’ve had good Bonds since then, but Connery hasn’t been surpassed. 2007 marked the completion of the remastering of all the Bond films, and Dr. No now looks as good as ever. Check out the featurettes: did you know that Maxwell was offered the part of either Moneypenny or Sylvia Trench? Astutely picking the former, she would appear in 14 Bond films, retiring when Roger Moore did.