License to Watch – Dr No (1962)
I was one of the primary instigators of the whole License to Watch project, having not really seen any of the older Bond movies. Really, I’ve only seen in full the films from Timothy Dalton onwards. I admit to have no small amount of trepidation going into Dr No, but I was pleasantly surprised. I expected this to be a much more dry, noir cold war type spy film, with none of the goofy Bond trappings that I expect from the later films.
Sean Connery does indeed make an excellent Bond, really encapsulating those qualities when you think of the character, suave, charming, rough around the edges. A rogue. Cool, calm and collected. You can see how his early portrayal here really informed the character going forward.
The 60s setting is great, having that really stylized look and feel that you can only recognize with 50 years of hindsight. The fashion, the hair, everything really sets this apart from the other films I’ve seen and I found it really colorful, something I wasn’t expecting.
I was involved with the story too. I figured there would be some espionage plot twists but I was really engaged, moving forward with the story waiting to see where it was going next, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it end up with a secret underground island lair, henchmen, escapes through air ducts (that inexplicably contain electrified grates (but only some), rushing water AND heated panels) and atomic power used for nefarious purposes by an evil doctor, in a poorly thought out plan for… something. I never imagined that was all there from the very first film. I figured it only emerged with the later, sillier Roger Moore films.
And of course you can’t go past the first Bond girl of them all, Honey Ryder played by Ursula Andress. In that bikini, wow. If I’d seen this as a kid, she definitely would have been my first celebrity crush.
I really really enjoyed this flick. I have read this is one of the better early Bond films, but if the next few are even halfway as enjoyable as this, I figure I’m in for a great time.