Wednesday, 20 June 2012

03/06/2012: Dr. No [1962]

Bond, James Bond. I have been watching James Bond movies ever since I was a kid. I’ve seen ever one of them at least 3 times. James Bond was the movie I could put on, anytime, whether it be my Saturday night, or Sunday morning movie, or just something to throw on in the background while working. Unfortunately it had been nearly a year since I had seen a Bond movie, as I had never actually acquired any complete set myself. Fortunately I finally have, and with Skyfall quickly approaching, I thought it was time to watch them all from the beginning again.

My James Bond collection is pretty piecemeal, as I don’t own any of those fancy complete sets. I have a copy of Casino Royale of origins unknown and I have a number of different editions for the rest. Unfortunately I have lost my copy of The Living Daylights, and while I will check around to see if any friends have one, I might not find it in time to include it within my James Bond ... Ok, what should I call this. It is not a marathon, as I’m not watching all of them straight. Is it still a blogathon if I do it solo? I’m unclear on the actual definition of a blogathon. I do know that there is a James Bond blogathon currently going on, although I’m a little late to the game. Perhaps in a few weeks I will have caught up and be able contribute. For now, I will plod along myself.

I have yet to mention the name of the film, but any James Bond fan should know that the first Bond film is Dr. No.  Dr. No was released in 1962, and was based on Ian Fleming’s novels about James Bond, Britain’s top secret agent. Dr. No however is not the first James Bond novel, and was chosen for its simplicity. Dr. No only required only one major location and one big special effects blowout. As such, the first time we see Bond, he is already a well established spy.  There are some major differences between the novels and the movies, with Dr. No taking the first steps at laying out the cinematic world. We get introduced to M, and Moneypenny, as well as see our first Bond girl, and first Bond villain. While Dr. No may not be the best Bond movie, it takes the first steps in a 50 year running movie series, that is pretty significant.
The names Connery, Sean Connery

Of course, the most important aspect of the first Bond movie is how Bond himself is portrayed. There is many debates over who is the best James Bond, my vote generally tend to swing towards Sean Connery. I mean the man defined James Bond as the suave and sophisticated gentleman, ladies man and lethal secret agent he is, and for those of you who don’t know, he was wearing a toupee the whole time.  While the actors who have portrayed Bond, have changed him slightly over the years, I think that Connery’s is my favourite. I’m not a big fan of the modern Daniel Craig Bond, although I think Pierce Bronsnan really started that more action oriented shift. However, I will spread out my opinions on that as I progress through the rest of the series. 

Dr. No's storyline is pretty simple. When a fellow agent disappears 007 is sent to Jamaica to investigate, once there he enlists local help, and is soon caught up in a series of incidents and mysteries, with all signs pointing towards Crab Key, an island feared by the locals, and by no means open to the public, and the home base of Dr. No. While in the end Bond saves the day in his usual spectacular blaze of glory we also get a number of trademark Bond moments as well. There are some car chases and gunfights, as well as a martini shaken here or there. Bond flirts with Moneypenny, and of course we get one of the most memorable movie moments as far as I can remember; the scene in which Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) emerges from the water in a white bikini with a knife on her hip, singing "Underneath the mango tree." I'm not sure about you, but that is one of the most memorable movies scenes I have ever seen.

While I know some of the lyrics to the mango tress song thanks to that movie, that is of course not the trademark James Bond music. Dr. No features many of the recurring soundtrack that are engraved in society as the 007 theme songs. But I was curious, for, when I watch Dr. No, the songs, however catchy and recognizable, are  in no way fresh. I wonder if anyone watched Dr. No when it came out and realized that those songs would eventually become recognizable worldwide?

For some reason I'm struggling pretty hard to write this. I think it is because, at this point I have seen all of the James Bond films so many times, in such random orders and in random parts that they really all just feel like the same movie. I mean, it literally encompasses a couple seasons worth of a T.V. show. and yet I will never tire of it. Dr. No, may have broken the ground that was 007, but it is not until you have seen all of them that you really understand and have built the entire world. James Bond, is a character who is not built simply by one film or one actor. It is the combination of so many different flavors that makes him the iconic character he is.

Definitely uploaded all my FRWL screens here first instead of Dr. No.
Overall Dr. No I think was a decent first outing for James Bond, but at the same time you could tell that there was a few safety nets, and that Dr. No was really just out there to test the waters. As we continue, things get more intense, with more explosions, and car chases. More iconic villains, and after the first 6 or so movies, you can start referring to things as classic Bond moves, and it becomes its own stereotype. Yet for some reason, things don't really become repetitive, and at no point do we ever see a sequel that is as shitty as many other franchise sequels are known to be. James Bond is really running on the biggest and longest movie combo imaginable and for that, I love it. It took me almost a week to write this, and tomorrow morning will likely be when I throw on From Russia With Love, as I continue on watching the whole series.

Dr. No IMDb

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