Dr. No is a 1962 British spy film, starring Sean Connery; it is the first James Bond film. Based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, it was adapted by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, and Berkely Mather and was directed by Terence Young. The film was produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, a partnership that would continue until 1975.
Directed by Terence Young
Produced by Harry Saltzman, Albert R. Broccoli
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather
Based on Dr. No by Ian Fleming
Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, John Kitzmiller
Music by Monty Norman Cinematography Ted Moore
Editing by Peter R. Hunt
Studio Eon Productions
Distributed by United Artists Release date: 5 October 1962
Running time: 109 minutes
Country: United Kingdom
Budget: $1.1 million
Box office: $59.5 million
In the film, James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the death of a fellow British agent. The trail leads him to the underground base of Dr. Julius No, who is plotting to disrupt an early American manned space launch with a radio beam weapon. Although the first of the Bond books to be made into a film, Dr. No was not the first of Fleming’s novels, Casino Royale being the debut for the character; however, the film makes a few references to threads from earlier books.
Dr. No was produced with a low budget, and was a financial success. While critical reaction at release was mixed, over time the film received a reputation as one of the series’ best instalments. The film was the first of a successful series of 23 Bond films. Dr. No also launched a genre of “secret agent” films that flourished in the 1960s. The film also spawned a spin-off comic book and soundtrack album as part of its promotion and marketing.
Many of the iconic aspects of a typical James Bond film were established in Dr. No: the film begins with an introduction to the character through the view of a gun barrel and a highly stylised main title sequence, both created by Maurice Binder. Production designer Ken Adam established an elaborate visual style that is one of the hallmarks of the Bond film series.
John Strangways, the British Intelligence (SIS) Station Chief in Jamaica, is ambushed and killed, and his body taken by a trio of assassins known as the “Three Blind Mice”. In response, British agent James Bond—also known as 007—is summoned to the office of his superior, M. Bond is briefed to investigate Strangways’ disappearance and to determine whether it is related to his cooperation with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on a case involving the disruption of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral by radio jamming.
Upon his arrival at Kingston Airport, a female photographer tries to take Bond’s picture and he is shadowed from the airport by two men. He is picked up by a chauffeur, whom Bond determines to be an enemy agent. Bond instructs him to leave the main road and, after a brief fight, Bond starts to interrogate the driver, who then kills himself with a cyanide-embedded cigarette.
During his investigation in Strangways’ house Bond sees a photograph of a boatman with Strangways. Bond locates the boatman, named Quarrel, but finds him to be uncooperative. Bond also recognises Quarrel to have been the driver of the car that followed him from the airport. Bond follows Quarrel and is about to be beaten by him and a friend when the fight is interrupted by the second man who followed Bond from the airport: he reveals himself to be CIA agent Felix Leiter and explains that not only are the two agents on the same mission but also that Quarrel is helping Leiter. The CIA has traced the mysterious radio jamming of American rockets to the vicinity of Jamaica, but aerial photography cannot determine the exact location of its origin. Quarrel reveals that he has been guiding Strangways around the nearby islands to collect mineral samples. He also talks about the reclusive Dr. No, who owns the island of Crab Key, on which there is a bauxite mine: the island and mine are rigorously protected against trespassers by an armed security force and radar.
During a search of Strangways’ house, Bond found a receipt, signed by Professor R. J. Dent, concerning rock samples. Bond meets with Dent who says he assayed the samples for Strangways and determined them to be ordinary rocks. This visit makes Dent wary and he takes a boat to Crab Key where Dr. No expresses displeasure at Dent’s visiting Crab Key in daylight and his failure to kill Bond, ordering him to try again, this time with a tarantula. Bond survives and after a final attempt on his life, sets a trap for Dent, whom he captures, interrogates and then kills.
Having detected radioactive traces in Quarrel’s boat, where Strangways’ mineral samples had been, Bond convinces a reluctant Quarrel to take him to Crab Key. There Bond meets the beautiful Honey Ryder, dressed only in a white bikini, who is collecting shells. At first she is suspicious of Bond but soon decides to help him, leading them all inland to an open swamp. After nightfall they are attacked by the legendary “dragon” of Crab Key which turns out to be a flame-throwing armoured tractor. In the resulting gun battle, Quarrel is incinerated by the flame-thrower whilst Bond and Ryder are taken prisoner. Bond and Ryder are decontaminated and taken to quarters before being drugged.
Upon waking they are escorted to dine with Dr. No. He reveals that he is a member of SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) and plans to disrupt the Project Mercury space launch from Cape Canaveral with his atomic-powered radio beam. After dinner Ryder is taken away and Bond is beaten by the guards.
Bond is imprisoned in a holding cell but manages to escape through a vent. Disguised as a worker, Bond finds his way to the control centre, a multi-level room full of high-tech instrumentation with an atomic reactor set into the floor, overseen by Dr. No from a command console. Bond overloads the nuclear reactor just as the American rocket is about to take off. Hand-to-hand combat ensues between Bond and Dr. No; the scientist is pushed into the reactor’s cooling vat, in which he boils to death. Bond finds Ryder and the two escape in a boat just as the entire lair explodes.
* Sean Connery as James Bond: A British MI6 agent, codename 007.
* Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder (spoken voice by Nikki van der Zyl and singing voice by Diana Coupland): A local shell diver, making a living by selling Jamaican seashells to dealers in Miami.
* Joseph Wiseman as Dr. Julius No: Main antagonist and a reclusive member of SPECTRE.
* Jack Lord as Felix Leiter: A CIA operative sent to liaise with James Bond while he is in Kingston.
* Bernard Lee as M: The head of the British Secret Service.
* Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent: A geologist with a practice in Kingston, who also secretly works for Doctor No.
* John Kitzmiller as Quarrel: A Cayman Islander who was employed by John Strangways to secretly go to Crab Key to collect rock samples; he also worked with Felix Leiter before Bond’s arrival.
* Zena Marshall as Miss Taro: The secretary to Mr. Pleydell-Smith at Government House in Kingston. She is actually a double agent working for Dr. No.
* Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench (spoken voice by Nikki van der Zyl): Trench first meets Bond from across a Chemin de Fer table at the London club Le Cercle.
* Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny: The secretary to M.
* Peter Burton as Major Boothroyd: The head of Q-Branch, Boothroyd is brought in by M to replace Bond’s Beretta M 1934 with a Walther PPK. This was Burton’s only appearance as Q.
* Timothy Moxon as John Strangways (voiced by Robert Rietty): Strangways is the head of the Kingston station for the British Secret Service, murdered by Dr. No’s henchmen, the ‘Three Blind Mice’.
* Reggie Carter as Mr. Jones: A henchman of Dr. No that was sent to pick up 007 at the Palisadoes Airport.
* Yvonne Shima as Sister Lily: A Prison Warden working at Dr. No’s lair.
* Marguerite LeWars as Annabelle Chung: One of Dr. No’s operatives who trails Bond.
* Michel Mok as Sister Rose
When Harry Saltzman gained the rights for the James Bond book, he initially did not go through with the project. Instead, Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli wanted the rights to the Bond books and attempted to buy them from Saltzman. Saltzman did not want to sell the rights to Broccoli and instead they formed a partnership to make the James Bond films. A number of Hollywood film studios did not want to fund the films, finding them “too British” or “too blatantly sexual”.
Eventually the two received authorisation from United Artists to produce Dr. No, to be released in 1962. Saltzman and Broccoli created two companies: Danjaq, which was to hold the rights to the films, and Eon Productions, which was to produce them. The partnership between Broccoli and Saltzman lasted until 1975, when tensions during the filming of The Man with the Golden Gun led to an acrimonious split and Saltzman sold his shares of Danjaq to United Artists.
Initially Broccoli and Saltzman had wanted to produce Thunderball as the first film, but there was an ongoing legal dispute between the screenplay’s co-author, Kevin McClory and Ian Fleming. As a result Broccoli and Saltzman chose Dr. No: the timing was apposite, with claims that American rocket testing at Cape Canaveral had problems with rockets going astray.
The producers offered Dr. No to Guy Green, Guy Hamilton, Val Guest and Ken Hughes to direct, but all of them turned it down. They finally signed Terence Young who had a long background with Broccoli’s Warwick Films as the director. Broccoli and Saltzman felt that Young would be able make a real impression of James Bond and transfer the essence of the character from book to film. Young imposed many stylistic choices for the character which continued throughout the film series. Young also decided to inject much humour, as he considered that “a lot of things in this film, the sex and violence and so on, if played straight, a) would be objectionable, and b) we’re never gonna go past along the censors; but the moment you take the mickey out, put the tongue out in the cheek, it seems to disarm.”
The producers asked United Artists for financing, but the studio would only put up $1 million. Later, the UK arm of United Artists provided an extra $100,000 to create the climax where Dr. No’s base explodes. As a result of the low budget, only one sound editor was hired (normally there are two, for sound effects and dialogue), and many pieces of scenery were made in cheaper ways, with M’s office featuring cardboard paintings and a door covered in a leather-like plastic, the room where Dent meets Dr. No costing only ?745 to build, and the aquarium in Dr. No’s base being magnified stock footage of goldfish. Furthermore, when art director Syd Cain found out his name was not in the credits, Broccoli gave him a golden pen to compensate, saying that he did not want to spend money making the credits again.
Involved cars: 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Convertible.