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DR. NOFeb. 24 2015
- Published on Amazon.com
I always considered DR. NO to be one of the better Bond films and closer to the literary James Bond created by Ian Fleming. Sean Connery's performance is that of the no-nonsense dedicated civil servant. His screen presence alone conveys the physical, intellectual and moral conviction of the character. He is essentially a modern day version of the white knight slaying the dragon for Queen and country.
Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No is one of the best villains of the series. His steel mono-toned performance is eerily unsettling. He remains one of the most enigmatic villains in the series. He is a villain moved more by unfounded revenge than by greed or riches. You almost sympathize with him as he makes futile overtures to Bond imploring him to join his organization. It seems that Bond is the only man capable of appreciating his intellect. Not even Dr. No's backers, Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are worthy of his talents.
Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder leaves one of the most indelible images of the series as she emerges from the sea clad in her white bikini. She is characterized by the simplicity of her goodness and naivet' as she is drawn into a vortex of worldliness that Bond further engulfs her in. Rather than that of a supposed sex object, she exudes a raw femininity found only in nature. Bond can not help but feel that he has corrupted her both deliberately and inadvertently in his blind quest to revenge the deaths of fellow agents. This is the very strength of Richard Maibaum's script, here and on subsequent Bond films.
These films, the better ones, are about Bond, his adversaries, his loves and his friendships. Jack Lord was the first of many actors to play Felix Leiter, Bond's CIA friend. "Friend" in the world of James Bond is not a word used casually. Lord seemed the one actor to visually convey the camaraderie that existed between these two characters. John Kitzmiller gave a very good performance as the loyal Quarrel, one of the most important characters in he entire series. This character epitomized the dormant qualities found in the instincts of the common man. When called upon in the death struggle of good vs. evil he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent seems perfect as a man who knew better than fall into an inescapable web of subterfuge that Dr. No has spread from his island to the mainland. Zena Marshall as Miss Taro is a more willing participant, as she appears eager to overtly display her sensuality and share her sexual appetites openly with Bond. She is supposed to lure Bond to his death. Finding this not the case she enthusiastically offers herself to Bond. It is in these scenes that Sean Connery displays a certain animal screen presence that no other actor has ever equaled in the role.
Many elements that distinguish a James Bond movie were introduced in this film. The opening gun barrel trademark, "The James Bond Theme," Bernard Lee's portrayal of the inimitable M, Lois Maxwell's portrayal of the desirable Miss Moneypenny, Ken Adam's innovative and distinctive production designs, Maurice Binder's unique main titles, the "Martinis shaken not stirred," just to name a few are all here.
Director, Terence Young, always boasted and took relish in how he supposedly shaped the look and feel of the James Bond series. This is quite possibly true when looking at DR. NO. It is a film visually rich with well-detailed and defined characters. It also has an uncanny feel for the settings inspired from the Ian Fleming novels whether it be Bond's intelligence headquarters in London, the exotic sights and sounds of Jamaica or the incongruity of Dr. No's plush lair hidden in the mosquito invested swamps of Crabe Key.
DR. NO is also characterized by quick paced editing by Peter Hunt. Hunt's innovative technique keeps the story moving visually and unobtrusively which also further defines the cinematic world of James Bond.
But coming full circle, it is Sean Connery's performance and screen presence that intrigues and captures the imagination of the viewer. Given the sets, the music, the script, the locations and all the other elements, it all comes down to how Sean Connery fits and moves through this cinematic world that has been created for James Bond. Sean Connery's performance is indeed that of Britain's dedicated civil servant. DR. NO is the benchmark.