007 in 23: Assignment #001- Dr. No

First, an introduction teaser, as per Bond tradition.  When deciding the concept for the next limited blog series, I wanted to have a challenge. I had done Here You Leave Today…A Disneyland Retrospective with my personal experiences into the mix which helped broaden the focus. While perfect, I needed to do something with fresh eyes and give my personal firsthand experience upon seeing something in all its glory. A first look, if you will. I decided upon the entire James Bond franchise, which is a series I had not seen every feature of. Never have I basked in the glow of Sean Connery lighting up the screen with suave charm and the dazzling beauty of Bond Girls being the eye of pure perfection. Never had I seen the countless villains try to destroy the world, be it with simple schemes or the outrageous over the top plans and the chases that thrilled the audiences around the globe. From Dr. No to the upcoming Skyfall, I will tackle all the official EON produced features one by one and give you my personal view on each one. 

Without further ado, I present…007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond- From Dr. No to Skyfall.

ASSIGNMENT #001- Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No, the first official James Bond feature and considered by Bond fans as part of the five best in the entire series. The film starts off with the classic iconic Bond gun sights as Bond shoots the nameless victim and blood drips on screen. Right then, the theme kicks into high gear setting up what will be a fantastic adventure of spy thrilling action. The noticeable lack of a teaser scene after the gun sight sequence proves this is truly the first film and most of the traits fans grew to love appear in the sequels after this feature.

The intro sequence may not be the most remembered, but the theme will be stuck with you for the entire day, making all your mundane tasks fantastic.

After the murder of British Intelligence Station Chief John Strangways by an assassin group known as The Three Blind Mice in Jamaica, James Bond (Sean Connery) is disrupted while gambling and flirting with the beautiful Sylvia Trench (eunice Grayson). He is called in by M of MI6 to investigate the disappearance of Strangways to see if relates to a radio jamming case he was working on with the CIA. Upon investigation, he is introduced to a man named Quarrel (John Kitzmiller) and CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) who are also investigating the exact same case. Quarrel soon reveals that Strangways was collected minerals from a nearby remote island known as Crab Key that has a mine run by the mysterious yet ever present Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman). Bond, along with Quarrel, venture to Crab Key to further investigate the case as he comes across the gorgeous Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), a local shell hunter around the area. Ryder joins the two as the travel further until they encounter The Dragon (a tank that throws flames) and Ryder and Bond are captured.

They awake in a facility that is the secret lair of the vicious Dr. No and soon find he is working for SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion). Dr. No reveals that he plans to stop the Project Mercury space launch by sending an atomic powered radio beam to destroy it. After he reveal, Bond and Ryder are taken to be imprisoned. Luckily, Bond quickly escapes to get into action and foil the plot of Dr. No and succeeds, killing Dr. No and blowing the rest of the facility with it. Bond finds Ryder and drags her to safety alongside him. Escaping on a small life boat, they are found by Felix Leiter and taken back to the mainland, until Bond lets go of the rope and proceeds to make love to Ryder.

Dr. No is filled with wonderful and classic moments that even I couldn’t detail in the synopsis above. From the quick, but short, chase by unknown henchman to taking out a man in pure silence to James Bond taking out a poisonous tarantula with his own shoe, the moments in here are dazzling. One particular moment that stands out is Bond using his sex drive and charm to buy time before arresting Miss Taro, who wants him dead on the spot. Sean Connery as James Bond is perfect, no question about it. He comes across as cool and suave, but a complete cold blooded killer and jerkass. When Bond takes someone out, he takes them out without even looking back like a true assassin. Connery nails every scene (and every girl for that matter) with ease and knows how to charm someone over. One look of him and you can tell this man is the real deal. Honey Ryder is great, but quite naive and seems to just be there for fanservice (fanservice in a James Bond feature, what a strange concept). Ursula Andress is a gorgeous woman and does know how to play her part well, even scoring a few great exchanges with Bond.

Dr. No is quite menacing as you can feel the presence looming before seeing who he is. I personally loved the slow buildup to who this man could really be and gives the audience time to wonder. When he appears, it doesn’t disappoint and he is just a cruel as you could have pictured. The introduction to the series mainstay characters also delivers.  Sadly, no Q in this film for you Bond fans, but no need to worry because we do see Miss Moneypenny (played by Lois Maxwell) and she give fantastic back and forth with Connery’s Bond with flirtatious tension. M’s (Bernard Lee) role is quick and brief, but as we go on, M will play a much more major role, so I will talk about the character more in another film. Jack Lord as Felix Leiter shines with the scenes he is given and is a great American foil to Britain’s own Bond and eventually lead to Jack Lord starring in the classic Hawaii Five-O on CBS in the 60’s.

The film itself is a classic bar none and a treat for new viewers such as myself watching it. It captures the essence of the characters and fulfills the promise of giving a fantastic spy thriller and being only the scratch on the surface for the entire series. The introduction to the foundations 007 is one of the best.

Assignment Status: 4.5 out of 5

Next time, James Bond will deal with the goons of SPECTRE once again and face a even greater mission than this one, giving the series the second part of the foundations that makes this series appear in the eyes of film buffs as one of the greatest franchises in existence.

Next assignment: From Russia with Love


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