James Bond Movie Review: Dr. No

This year, 2022, marks the 60th anniversary of James Bond. It’s wild to think that 60 years ago the first Bond film, Dr. No, was released in movie theaters and the global phenomenon known as James Bond 007 took the world by storm. In honor of this monumental occasion, I’m revisiting and reviewing all 25 films. Grab a Vesper Martini, buckle up, and let’s take an Aston Martin DB5 down memory lane as we enjoy the greatest movie franchise of all time.

In 2003, The James Bond Collection Special Edition DVDs were released in three box sets, with each box containing a mix of James Bond films and actors portraying the iconic figure. These were my first James Bond box sets, so I’m watching all of the first 20 Bond films and their accompanying special features for the purposes of my reviews from this set, which will take me through the entirety of the Pierce Brosnan era, ending with Die Another Day. Then, I’ll resume with the 50th Anniversary box set for the Daniel Craig films.

The Story

Arriving in Jamaica to investigate the suspected murder of a fellow agent and his secretary, James Bond eludes several attempts on his life. With the help of CIA agent Felix Leiter and local fisherman Quarrel, Bond follows the sinister trail of Dr. No to his island Crab Key. Shortly after landing on the beach with Quarrel, Bond encounters alluring shell collector Honey Ryder. The three uninvited visitors are hunted down by Dr. No’s private army, who kill Quarrel and take Bond and Honey to Dr. No’s magnificent lair. Their megalomaniac host, Dr. No tells Bond that by utilising the nuclear laboratory on site, he plans to destroy the US Space program as his first move towards world domination. Bond outwits Dr. No who falls victim to his own scheme and dies. Rescuing Honey Ryder, Bond commandeers a motorboat and together they escape from Crab Key, seconds before it explodes, leaving the final devastation of Dr. No’s laboratory behind.

Double-O Insights

Vodka Martini is Bond’s first cinematic drink in Dr. No.

We get a rare glimpse of the interior of Bond’s London townhouse. The only other films that show Bond’s living space are Live And Let Die and Spectre.

The only Bond film not to have a pre-title sequence.

Norman Wanstall created the muffled sound for the silenced gun that Bond uses which is not like the real sound of a silenced gun. His cinematic sound has been copied so often many people believe this is what a silenced gun really sounds like.

Production Designer Ken Adam incorporated many moving parts on his sets. In the decontamination scene Bond and Honey are transported through showers on a ‘moving walkway’ now known as travelators.

My Thoughts

Dr. No is a solid film that laid a strong foundation for the James Bond franchise. It’s deliberate in its pace and filled with a wealth of memorable scenes that have stayed with me over the years. For example, James Bond patiently waiting for Professor Dent and then promptly disposing of him is masterfully done. Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No provided a restrained and unnerving sense of peril with his captivating performance as James Bond’s first cinematic foe.

The music, which includes the “James Bond Theme” written by Monty Norman and played and arranged by the John Barry Orchestra, is the definition of magic. Director Terence Young was an inspired choice, and Ken Adam’s production design helped set the timeless tone for the James Bond series. Frankly, all involved in making this picture should be applauded for their contributions because the sum of their parts is a piece of cinema that still holds up to this day.

Dr. No is one of the best James Bond movies ever. From the “Bond . . . James Bond” introduction, Sean Connery captured our imagination and brought Ian Fleming’s character to life in a way few could anticipate. The fantastic supporting cast and crew elevated this movie to an even higher level, launching it into the stratosphere in the process. The fact that I’m writing about Dr. No 60 years after its release tells you all you need to know about this movie. It was an instant classic, and it is still as potent today as it was upon its release on October 6, 1962.

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