Monday, 17 January 2011

Dr.No

Having never forked out for a Bond boxed set (they just keep making 'em!) I watched Dr. No on video! Yes, one of those old fashioned mechanical type things with tape in them and everything! What's more it wasn't even a bought video, it was taped off TV years ago when ITV had a "Double O Heaven" season. Still, the quality wasn't all that bad, and it certainly didn't spoil my enjoyment of this classic film at all.

First thing to notice is that there is no title song. This of course makes sense being the first film, the songs wouldn't really get going in terms of James Bond themes until Goldfinger, though I'm certainly not forgetting the mellifluous voice of Matt Munro's From Russia with Love. The credits start with the James Bond theme, before degenerating (sorry) into some sort of Latin drum beat thing over which we see silhouettes of dancing women, soon to become a staple of 007 film intros. This then becomes a reggae version of Three Blind Mice!!! WTF?! Oh I see, the film starts with three "blind" guys. Still, a tenuous link, and a bit of a comedown from the dramatic James Bond theme of a minute ago.

There were two things that really struck me about this film. Firstly, how slick it was. The plot moved effortlessly on, gliding from one one location/encounter to the next. This was all helped by the fact that Bond is always one step ahead of the villains, and of the viewer I felt sometimes! Now I'm no expert in 60s films, but I imagine that in 1962 this slickness could have been quite striking, to me it is reminiscent of Bullitt, which would not be seen for another 6 years.

The second thing was just how perfect Sean Connery is as Bond. He just slips right in there like a hand into an expensive Italian leather shoe. No, just me? Moving swiftly on. It also made me realise that Daniel Craig's Bond is much more of a return to the "Thinking on his feet" Bond rather than the "Rely on invisible cars and explosive watches" Bond that we were becoming accustomed to. I had thought that this was a reflection of the popularity of the Bourne films, but now I see that is how Bond used to be (and he's better this way I think). In Dr. No, Bond is constantly reading every situation, monitoring all the players, and dispatches henchmen very efficiently, hardly breaking sweat; except for when a big hairy spider is crawling up him.

I also think it's great that Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) is no-one in particular (not a secret agent, or a nuclear physicist, or some billionaire's wife who's just being mischievous) she's just out, on the beach picking up shells; Honey: Are you looking for shells too? Bond: No, I'm just looking. That is of course before she gets caught up in all the adventure.

The other two things I thought were great were: the first time Bond says: "Bond, James Bond", it sounds completely natural and not clichéd or unnecessarily shoe-horned in. And also I'd forgotten what SPECTRE was an acronym for. SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. Fantastic!