Thursday, 25 October 2012

Dr. No (1962)

…and so the stroke of midnight on Friday 26th October, and we begin.

James Bond (007) is Britain's top agent and is on an exciting mission to solver the mysterious murder of a fellow agent. The task sends him to Jamaica where he joins forces with Quarrel and a loyal CIA agent, Felix Leiter. While dodging tarantulas, 'fire-breathing dragons' and a trio of assassins known as the Three Blind Mice, Bond meets up with the beautiful Honey Ryder and goes face to face with the evil Dr. No.

So, we find ourselves within minutes of watching the film and you realise that fifty years have gone by since this first film. The film – well, it really feels dated. But it has this charm to it. In many ways the film being only released at the beginning of the 1960s, does feel like a film from the 1950s. The film has a gloss, a sheen to it – also the acting feels staged in a way that you get from 1950s cinema. The film’s soundtrack compliments this theory, you could swear you’re watching a Hitchcock film, the beat of music strikes as characters strike. Very theatrical.

Connery’s Bond is a stone cold killer, a man who would do what ever it takes to get the mission done – just awe inspiring. An icon is born. His quick wit, charm and stony glare has never been beaten – well that’s my opinion now, wonder if it will change?

The film is a thriller, we don’t have the pre-titles sequence, and we don’t have over the top action scenes or gadgets. Bond uses his skills and physical attributes to out thwart his enemies. He sets simple traps around his hotel room to detect if his room has been visited, a hair across a doorframe, very low tech. This film has more in common with Daniel Craig’s Bond than many in the series. Very interesting as I have not seen this film in over five years.

The Bond girls here are sign of the time the film was released, not an equal, he uses them as means to an end – very much Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. All apart from what is, of course, the true first Bond Girl, Honey Ryder played by Ursula Andress. A strong willed, forthright woman. And yes, that scene where she comes out of the water in her Bikini, fifty years ago or not she’s a beautiful woman.

Dr No himself – well, apart from not appearing on screen until the last act of the film. He is – well lets not beat around, It’s a character that could be seen as a racist portrayal in modern standards. But, also the performance by Joseph Wiseman is sinister, brutal and all in all an interesting villain. Unfortunately, you can’t get past the panto feeling of his “villain” and now today all you can think of when he speaks is Dr Evil!

So as a film it is an entertaining thriller, which has dated badly in many places. In others it hasn’t, namely how the character of Bond himself is played and written. Sets, stunts and direction are very much from the 1950s – you can at points see the edge of the sets and the paper mache that’s used o makes rock face walls! It’s the first Bond film, however it isn’t the first of what we perceive as a Bondian film. That’s too come.

Rating: 2 out of 5


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