Like father, like son. Just a few years ago, my son turned on to
one of my all-time favorite cinematic series, STAR WARS. And now that
he has almost reached the ripe old age of nine, he has decided, as his
Dad did back in high school, that James Bond is cool.
Thus began the Rhodes's household saga of viewing every Bond movie
in order. The Bond pictures started in the early 1960s with teenagers
everywhere, including yours truly, taking their dates to see them.
These pictures had everything, including, but not limited to, exotic
locales -- remember world-wide travel was not that prevalent then, lush
sets, high tech gadgets, beautiful people, beaucoup sexual innuendo,
heavy action and non-stop entertainment. And Sean Connery.
1962's DR. NO, set to a seductive calypso beat, could not have
been a better introduction to the series. The smooth movie goes down
as easily as one of those potent Caribbean drinks. Even the show's
obvious flaws -- most of the fight choreography is atrocious, for
example -- become part of its simple charms. It is as if the studios
knew how popular the shows would become, so they took their time with
the first one in making the lead character accessible and worth caring
Nobody, but nobody, can play Ian Fleming's James Bond like Sean
Connery. As he thwarts every foe with grace, wit, and style, the
audience laps it up. The female members fall in love with him and the
male ones dream of having his romantic successes as every movie brings
a new stream of female conquests for him. Connery makes Bond so
inherently likable that no matter how outlandish his maneuvers, he
never seems in any danger of overacting.
Unlike subsequent episodes, where Bond always gets a load of new
high tech gadgets especially created for that caper, in this one the
only thing he gets is a new gun, a Walther PPK with a Brausch silencer,
to replace his trusty Beretta. No personalized car with on-board water
cannon, fog making machine, or any other gizmo.
Although not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when
you think of a Bond picture, one part that rarely disappoints is the
music. Monty Norman and Academy Award winner John Barry (DANCES WITH
WOLVES, OUT OF AFRICA, etc.) came up with some great music for DR. NO.
Not only does it set the mood and the pace perfectly, but it leaves you
humming the tunes when the show is over.
Director Terence Young sets a relaxed and bubbly rhythm in the
opening sequence with three innocent looking "blind" guys dancing to
the tune of three blind mice, all set to a calypso beat. The perfect
pacing draws you quickly into the story's characters.
As they sing easy-going Caribbean songs like "Underneath the Mango
Tree," Jamaica at first seems an odd choice for a spy thriller. But
the laid back inhabitants and the busy spies make for a fascinating
contrast. The result is certainly one of the more relaxed of the Bond
As always in Bond stories the forces of evil have some dastardly
deed in mind, usually involving attempts at world domination. This
time it surrounds a device that the nefarious Dr. No uses that can
force missiles off course.
Jack Lord plays the CIA agent on the island, but the most
memorable star, other than Connery, is the gorgeous Ursula Andress as a
big shell hunter known as Honey Ryder. When we first see her perfectly
shaped body in an athletic looking two piece swimsuit encasing her
golden tan, the natural reaction is "wow!"
Honey risks her life going after the big ones on Dr. No's hideout,
Crab Key Island. Even the locals will not go there thanks to the
presence of a fire-breathing dragon.
In a winner for the story's most ridiculous but undoubtedly most
realistic part, the Jamaicans wear loose fitting short sleeve shirts in
the hot Caribbean weather while the outsiders torture themselves for
the sake of fashion by wearing gray suits with long sleeved shirts and
In the Bond films, especially the early ones, sex is a kiss with a
cutaway before the action starts and a cut back after it is over.
(Notice how Bond gets to bed the voluptuous bad woman before he turns
her over to the cops. Similarly, Bond is happy to kill in cold blood
if the other guy's gun is empty. Bond is not a big moralist.)
In an age where this genre of show often degenerates into a
special effects extravaganza, it is refreshing to see one, like Dr. No,
where brains can be characters' salvation. When Bond and Co. get
hunted down by dogs, he saves his band through simple ingenuity. He
cuts off reeds, and they use them to breathe as they hide their bodies,
and hence scents, under the water.
DR. NO runs 1:50. It is rated PG for violence and sexual innuendo
and would be fine for kids around nine and up.
My son Jeffrey, almost 9, thought the film was great! His only
complaint? Too much kissing. He's been wanting us to rent one of the
Bond videos, and although GOLDFINGER is arguably the best, we decided
to start with the first in the series. He can't wait until we rent the
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes