Thursday, May 31, 2012

James Bond 007: Dr. No - Dir. Terence Lawrence

James Bond 007: Dr. NO – Dir. Terence Young
The Beginning of a Film Dynasty
By Jay Maronde
                Where to begin when reviewing the longest running film series ever? Well, the first movie, obviously! The whole 007 movie franchise all began way backin 1962 with Dr. NO. Now, it’s very much worth noting that, James Bond, 007 was around for some time before the first movie. Much like Twilight or The Hunger Games, “James Bond” was already an extremely successful series of novels, and the rumors are true, Dr. NO was NOT the first novel (Casino Royale, which we will review in due time gets that honor). Dr. NO was however the first film produced in the series, which of course has had incredible success with the 23rd installment due this autumn (Skyfall), and even though numerous directors have had their way with the world’s most famous secret agent, some things have always remained the same.
                Maybe it’s just that I’m a child of the internet generation, maybe it’s because I just get all hot and bothered about cool gizmos, but one of the first differences that I noticed between this, the “original” Bond, and all the Modern Bonds is the distinct lack of technology. When I speak of technology I of course mean Bond’s technology, not Hollywood’s. Of course when one enjoys a movie from 1962 you had better not expect too much CGI, as computers, let alone computer graphics were still a far flung theory proposed by some guy named Turing. I personally enjoy the old timey effects! It’s far better to watch a real station wagon actually explode while plunging off a cliff (even if it’s obvious from the way the film was cut that it was an empty car) than watch what is essentially some sweet—andgranted—very  realistic computer animations. Call me a classicist, I don’t care. What I’m really trying to get at is Bond’s lack of technology: the customary Q branch consultation includes nothing more than (the somewhat important) introduction of James Bond’s classic[j1]  Whalther PPK. When he sends for more equipment he receives a Geiger counter, a big ole boxy government lab model; not a slick Q branch model with super-secret extra features built in. Bond (played exquisitely and dashingly by a young (but not as young as I had imagined) Sean Connery) still makes it work, when he needs to know if someone is messing with his briefcase, he’s got pencil dust on the latches to check for finger prints, and who could forget the now classic “wet hair across the door jamb?” Even I knew about that one as a kid, I didn’t even know back then that I was through some shocking pop culture translation I was emulating the great man, but I knew how to tell if my Moms had been in my closet. Bond doesn’t have a poisoning reversal kit anywhere so every time he returns to his room he just cracks a fresh bottle of vodka. The lack of all these gizmos, actually serve to advance the film more, because the viewer gets the gist that Bond is just so nice he simply doesn’t need anything other than his wits.
                Speaking of Vodka, one thing that this movie, in particular, basically invented, and has remained in almost every James Bond Film since is Product Placement. It’s not incredibly obvious like in the later movies where the world’s greatest spy uses the world’s worst cell phone because its manufactured by the same company that owns the studio producing the film; but every time Bond picks up a bottle of vodka it’s always Smirnoff and the label is always facing the camera so it can be easily read. Also, if you note, most of the cars in the entire movie are all Chevrolets. The Bond Franchise essentially invented product placement, and Bond has been enjoying the gifts of America’s corporations ever since.
One of the most notable things that has always remained the same within the world of Bond, from Bond’s first scene at the Ambassadors Club in London, up to and including the new movie (I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m quite sure) is the women. It has been said that every “Bond Girl” since  has wished she could have had as amazing an entrance as the Swedish beauty, Ursula Andress. As “Honey Rider” swims out of the Jamaican ocean with her knife and bikini, movie history is made.  So much history that, in fact Halle Berry’s entrance twenty movies later in Die Another Day was intentionally filmed as an homage to the original. (Supposedly some of the scenes from the Bo Derek (who happens to actually be Andress’ step daughter in real life) movie ‘10’ were also a homage) What most people don’t know is that Andress was extremely new to America and her English was broken and accented. In response the producers dubbed every single one of her lines.  And more remarkably (for those in search of the ultimate Jeopardy clue), she was the only Bond Girl to ever appear onscreen inside Bond’s home.
Now, while Honey Rider may have been the most famous girl in the movie, she was certainly not the only swell looking lady to grace the silver screen next to Bond. In fact, in the first scene with Bond at the aforementioned Ambassadors Club we meet the epic Sylvia Trench (played exquisitely by Eunice Gayson) and she sets our hero up for one of his most famous lines ever when she first introduces herself as “Trrench, Sylvia Trench,” leading our hero to drop his now famous “Bond, James Bond.” 
Considering all that has taken place in the years since its first release, Dr. NO  is clearly an inimitable classic of American cinema. Sean Connery began a dynasty that actors still fight to get a chance to be a part of, and Terence Young adapted a popular novel series in a way that modern novelist heirs could only dream about.

 [j1]You are classic.

1 comment:

JK said...

I recently watched Dr. No for the first time. I think this review is good but it doesn't mention the actual Dr. No. I have only watched a few of the Bonds but I felt this was a very strange way for the franchise to be started. I still have very little idea of what Dr. No was trying to do, but for me, the first 75 minutes of this movie were only mildly amusing, and it is the last 45 that make it "classic." From Ursula Andress's entrance to the climax in Dr. No's underground lair, the film makes perfect use of its tropical Carribean shooting location. And Dr. No himself is a very interesting villain.