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007: Best Of Connery – Dr.No

DNW: Nonchalant describes Bond at his most awesome perfectly. You mentioned no qualms about hurting a woman, you’re talking about when the photographer comes back into it, right?

DJ: Yep. They treat her like garbage. Bond usually treats them sweetly, then abandons them, but he just stares at her like she’s nothing. And more of that comes in later, like in Diamonds Are Forever where he chokes a woman with her own bra.

DNW: It actually establishes her as something of a badass character though, she’s threatened by three guys and she stays strong. That dub though…not a trace of a Jamaican accent. Same goes for a few of the random islanders.

DJ: Yeah. I like the scene. And yeah, the voice dubs are atrocious.

DNW: Right after that though, we get what is possibly my favourite scene in the entire movie: the introduction to Dr No. It’s brilliant. Ken Adam is the man to thank according to your link, the set design is incredible, and No’s disembodied, unfeeling voice is chilling. This is where the movie starts to get really good in my opinion, I usually think of it as picking up when Bond hits Crab Key, but this is the first truly great scene in the movie.

James Bond - Best Of Sean Connery - Dr No
DJ: Oh that’s right. Again an example of something not quite working for me. I’ll agree, that set is stunning. But the shot before was on a boring old oil rig shot on location, and from the angle and design there was NO ROOM for that set inside of there and the set looks so good it’s jarring. Standalone: it’s awesome. As a whole? The juxtaposition feels cheap. That said, yes, that entire scene when taken on its own is awesome.

DNW: Brilliant build up, way before we get to actually see the character we get a hint of him, and just a glimpse of his ridiculously expansive secret lair. Before Bond gets to the island, there are the attempts on his life as you mentioned earlier. I know you had some thoughts.

DJ: Oh, with the machine gun boats?

DNW: The spider. Dr No gives it to him specifically.

DJ: Oh yeah, Bond is unaware he’s in danger until it’s too late. With the assassins they fail on their own, with the spider it just happens to crawl off him so he can smash it. I love the idea of a poison spider, but I’d like to see Bond get out some way other than blind luck.

DNW: I don’t know how else that could have played though. I do really love the idea, it’s classic pulpy stuff and it’s an unnecessarily elaborate murder attempt, which is classic Bond. Remember when George Lucas tried to do this in Attack of the Clones?

DJ: Oh yes. The comparison to Lucas’s arguably worse film did not elude me. Compare that scene to the one in Arachnophobia where a spider is crawling up a guy’s body to his head: he forces himself to wait calmly until its on a piece of wood debris on his body, then hits that to flick it off. A lot of luck involved in that? Totally. But the character is also active, observing his situation, and using what he can to get out of it. It’s more active, dynamic, and interesting.

DNW: But does the music sync perfectly with him beating the thing to death?

DJ: The use of the shoe is a nice touch for some reason. In retrospect, I do enjoy seeing Bond lose his cool and being out of his element…but this movie has too much of it.

DNW: Well he’s right back into keeping cool when he kills the professor. The way he does that is pretty slick – it’s that second shot, it’s overkill – he just doesn’t like the guy. The spider may have had something to do with that. After that it’s off to Crab Key under cover of darkness. It’s beautiful setting. I love Bond’s outfit here too, makes me want to buy a powder blue polo.

DJ: And rolled up slacks

DNW: Perfectly matching rolled up slacks. And we have our third great character intro in the form of Honey Ryder.

DJ: Oh man, it’s great. I love that he sings to her from the trees like a wood sprite.

DNW: Me too. There’s not a whole lot of singing Bond, is there? I wonder why that didn’t become a thing. So our girl comes out of the ocean with her shells and knife and bikini…the look on Bond’s face is priceless, and then there’s the ingenious ‘stay where you are, I don’t trust you to come closer’ line that allows Terrence Young to hold a midshot so he doesn’t have to take the camera off of Ursula Andress’s body. She gets nothing resembling a close up until several minutes later, around the time they’re talking about dragons and she’s trying to convince Bond that the one he’s heard lives on Crab Key island is legit. 60s priorities.

James Bond - Best Of Sean Connery - Dr No
DJ: Haha! Oh yes…and that damn dragon. Apparently 60s studio execs thought women and people with dark skin ALL believed in magical creatures on a whim even though it’s so obviously a flame throwing vehicle that exists for no reason other than to burn up Bond’s sidekick.

DNW: Neither of them seemed dumb enough to believe that thing was a dragon either, but they both get ‘see, we told you’ lines, just to drive home that they really are supposed to be simpletons. You enjoyed their narrow escapes prior to meeting Dr No too, right?

DJ: Oh yes, with the makeshift snorkels, fun stuff. But the pacing is so slow, and not in a tense way.

DNW: That scene was what I was thinking of particularly. It’s cartoonish (I may just think that because the same thing happens in Disney’s Peter Pan) but that’s probably why I like it so much. This movie often gets labelled campy along with other early Bonds, but I really don’t see it that way. It’s larger than life, it’s vibrant, but it’s not that cheesy or tongue-in-cheek every single minute. Some of this stuff could have been played for laughs and isn’t, it’s sincere. Bond gets a brutal kill in there while they’re in the water too, and we see Honey’s reaction. She doesn’t get a cuddle in the shower afterwards like Vesper.

DJ: As for Dr No himself, I have to admit he’s pretty great. The Asianification of the actor is distracting, but he’s an imposing force.

DNW: Getting past the yellowface isn’t as hard as it might be considering No is supposed to be mixed race, and he’s not doing any kind of insultingly caricatured performance.

DJ: I honestly don’t even remember his master plan at this point … just to blow sh*t up?

DNW: He works for SPECTRE and wants to interfere with a manned space mission, which he reveals whilst dining with his enemies. Again with my inappropriate Star Wars references, but in The Empire Strikes Back there’s the whole eating-with-Vader thing, only there you don’t actually get to witness the meal. Here we do, and it’s a glorious thing. Dr No basically says he had hoped to groom Bond for SPECTRE, only to have thought better of it. The line reading of ‘Unfortunately I misjudged you, you are just a stupid policeman’ is PERFECT. And Bond literally says ‘you won’t get away with it this time, Dr No’ which is truly a joy to hear in a non-parodic context.

DJ: I love that they make Honey leave the table because she’s a woman.

DNW: MAN TALK

DJ: Hahaha, like in Goldfinger at the pool. I’ve watched five Bonds in a row now, so they’re blurring in my mind … but Dr. No is the one that ends with them in a small boat getting it on and the CIA finds them, tries to tow them to shore, and they untie the rope so they can screw some more, right?

DNW: That’s the one. Bond messes everything up having disguised himself as one of Dr No’s henchmen. Again, I’m really taken with the set design.

DJ: Yeah.

DNW: The whole ending-with-kissing-the-girl thing it revisited in The World is Not Enough when Bond FINALLY lets loose that Christmas pun he’d been saving. Honestly, that gets a lot of hate, but I’d have a hard time saying which ending I preferred.

DJ: Haha. Yeah, the puns are fun. They reach a new level in the Roger Moore flicks.

DNW: Final thoughts on Dr No?

DJ: I appreciate its place in cinema history, but the dull directing and structure kind of kill it for me. I can see why folks like it though, and I definitely love Connery as Bond.

DNW: I get how you might not be gripped for the first half of the movie, but the visuals and characters carry it for me from the midway point, I do think it’s pretty wonderful. And yeah, Connery is amazing as Bond, it’s certainly no mystery why this kicked off the franchise and embedded itself in pop culture, which has a lot to do with how acclaimed it is for sure.

Other Chapters
007: Best Of Sean Connery – Dr.No
007: Worst Of Sean Connery – Diamonds Are Forever
007: Best & Worst Of George Lazenby – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
007: Best Of Roger Moore – The Spy Who Loved Me
007: Worst Of Roger Moore – A View To A Kill
007: Best Of Timothy Dalton – The Living Daylights
007: Worst Of Timothy Dalton – Licence To Kill
007: Best Of Pierce Brosnan – GoldenEye
007: Worst Of Pierce Brosnan – The World Is Not Enough
007: Best Of Daniel Craig – Casino Royale
007: Worst Of Daniel Craig – Quantum Of Solace

David Williams & Dalmatian Jaws will return in ‘The Worst Of Sean Connery’

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5 Comments »

  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    – I want to see the return of James Bond in a hat. Maybe also dressed head to foot in light blue.

    – In that barrel sequence he shot high, it would have gone way above the target.

    – The sequence where he playing cards and then goes on to meet Moneypenny for the first time is maybe the suavest thing ever put on screen.

    – I feel really sorry for Dr No when he can’t grip onto the pole with his metal hands and ends up being boiled alive.

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    • dnwilliams said
      dnwilliams

      No! No hat!

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    • gd smith said

      I agree the real Bond should dresses like he’s at home on the golf course, on a boat, formula One, and on the slopes. He’s not this cool outsider dude, He’s a flashy playboy perfectly in tune with what used to be called the jet set. The modern Bonds miss all the aspirational consumerism and loving detail lavished on expensive stuff. Bond now should be like a cross between Hansel from Zoolander and Donald Trump, except English.

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  • PantShat said

    I like how Moneypenny’s glamorous office now looks like somewhere you sign paperwork before renting a van.

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    • dnwilliams said
      dnwilliams

      I was thinking it looks WAAAAY too personalized for a government building.

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