Monday, October 8, 2012

Dr. No

Bond: “I promise I won't steal your shells.”
Honey: “I promise you you won't, either. Stay where you are!”
Bond: “I can assure you, my intentions are strictly honorable.”

Dr. No: “SPECTRE. Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Revenge and Extortion. The four great cornerstones of power, headed by the greatest brains in the world.”
Bond: “Correction, criminal brains.”
Dr. No: “The successful criminal brain is always superior. It has to be.”

Bond: “I admire your courage Miss..?”
Silvia: “Trench. Silvia Trench. I admire your luck Mr?”
Bond: “Bond. James Bond.”

On October 3, 2012, Reel FX began a James Bond Festival to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the series.  We will screen all 22 official James Bond films and the 2 unofficial Bond films, in chronological order, beginning with:

Dr. No

Dr. No is a 1962 spy film, starring Sean Connery; it is the first James Bond film. Based on the 1958 Ian Fleming novel of the same name, 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.

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, but was a financial success. While critical reaction at release was mixed, over time the film received a reputation as one of the franchise's best installments. The film was the first of a successful series of 22 Bond films; a 23rd is planned for release in 2012. 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 stylized 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.


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 authorization 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 humor, 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.


Broccoli had originally hired Richard Maibaum and his friend Wolf Mankowitz to write Dr. No's screenplay, partly because of Mankowitz’s help in brokering the deal between Broccoli and Saltzman. An initial draft of the screenplay was rejected because the scriptwriters had made the villain, Dr. No, a monkey.  Mankowitz left the movie, and Maibaum then undertook a second version, more closely in line with the novel. Johanna Harwood and Berkely Mather then worked on Maibaum's script, with Harwood in particular being described as a script doctor who helped put elements more in tune with a British character. Mankowitz eventually had his name removed from the credits after viewing early rushes, as he feared it would be a disaster.

During the series' forty-year history only a few of the films have remained substantially true to their source material; Dr. No has many similarities to the novel and follows its basic plot, but there are a few notable omissions. Major elements from the novel that are missing from the film include Bond's fight with a giant squid, and the escape from Dr. No's complex using the dragon-disguised swamp buggy. Elements of the novel that were significantly changed for the film include the use of a (non-poisonous) tarantula spider instead of a centipede; Dr. No's secret complex being disguised as a bauxite mine instead of a guano quarry; Dr. No's plot to disrupt NASA space launches from Cape Canaveral using a radio beam instead of disrupting US missile testing on Turk's Island; the method of Dr. No's death by drowning in reactor coolant rather than a burial under a chute of guano, and the introduction of SPECTRE, an organization absent from the book. Components absent from the novel but added to the film include the introduction of the Bond character in a gambling casino, the introduction of Bond's semi-regular girlfriend Sylvia Trench, a fight scene with an enemy chauffeur, a fight scene to introduce Quarrel, the seduction of Miss Taro, Bond's recurring CIA ally Felix Leiter, Dr. No's partner in crime Professor Dent and Bond's controversial cold-blooded killing of this character.

Sometimes episodes in the novel retained in the film's altered narrative introduce elements of absurdity into the plot. Bond's "escape" from his cell via the air shaft, for instance, originally conceived as a ruse of Dr. No's to test Bond's skill and endurance, becomes an authentic break-out in the film. Features carried over from the novel's obstacle course, however, such as the torrent of water and scalding surface, have no logical justification in the script. Such incongruities would recur in subsequent Bond films.


Artist rendering of James Bond, commissioned by Ian Fleming


While producers Broccoli and Saltzman originally sought Cary Grant for the role, they discarded the idea as Grant would be committed to only one feature film, and the producers decided to go after someone who could be part of a franchise. Richard Johnson has claimed to have been the first choice of the director, but he turned it down because he already had a contract with MGM and was intending to leave. Another actor purported to have been considered for the role was Patrick McGoohan on the strength of his portrayal of spy John Drake in the television series Danger Man: McGoohan turned down the role. Another potential Bond included David Niven, who would later play the character in the 1967 satire Casino Royale.

There are several apocryphal stories as to whom Ian Fleming personally wanted. Reportedly, Fleming favored actor Richard Todd. In his autobiography When the Snow Melts, Cubby Broccoli said Roger Moore had been considered, but had been thought "...too young, perhaps a shade too pretty." In his autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, Moore says he was never approached to play the role of Bond until 1973, for Live and Let Die. Moore appeared as Simon Templar on the television series The Saint, airing in the United Kingdom for the first time on 4 October 1962, only one day before the premiere of Dr. No.

Ultimately, the producers turned to 30-year-old Sean Connery for five films. It is often reported that Connery won the role through a contest set up to "find James Bond". While this is untrue, the contest itself did exist, and six finalists were chosen and screen tested by Broccoli, Saltzman, and Fleming. The winner of the contest was a 28 year-old model named Peter Anthony, who, according to Broccoli, had a Gregory Peck quality, but proved unable to cope with the role. When Connery was invited to meet Broccoli and Saltzman he appeared scruffy and in unpressed clothes, but Connery "put on an act and it paid off" as he acted in the meeting with a macho, devil-may-care attitude. When he left both Saltzman and Broccoli watched him through the window as he went to his car, both agreeing that he was the right man for Bond. After Connery was chosen, Terence Young took the actor to his tailor and hairdresser, and introduced him to the high life, restaurants, casinos and women of London. In the words of Bond writer Raymond Benson, Young educated the actor "in the ways of being dapper, witty, and above all, cool".

 Secondary Cast:

For the first Bond girl Honey Ryder, Julie Christie was considered, but discarded as the producers felt she was not voluptuous enough. Just two weeks before filming began, Ursula Andress was chosen to play Honey after the producers saw a picture of her taken by Andress' then-husband John Derek (later, Bo Derek’s husband). To appear more convincing as a Jamaican, Andress had a tan painted on her and ultimately had her voice dubbed over due to her heavy Swiss German accent.

For Bond's antagonist Dr. Julius No, Ian Fleming wanted his friend Noël Coward, and he answered the invitation with "No! No! No!" Harry Saltzman picked Joseph Wiseman because of his performance in the 1951 film Detective Story, and the actor had special make-up applied to invoke No's Chinese heritage.  


The role as the first Felix Leiter was given to Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-0). This is Bond and Leiter's first time meeting each other on film and Leiter does not appear in the novel. Leiter returns for many of Bond's future adventures and in the 2006 reboot of the film series, Casino Royale, Leiter and Bond are seen meeting one another again for the first time. This was Lord's only appearance as Leiter, as he asked for more money and a better billing to return as Leiter in Goldfinger and was subsequently replaced.

The cast also included a number of actors who were to become stalwarts of the future films, including Bernard Lee, who played Bond's superior M for another ten films, and Lois Maxwell, who played M's secretary Moneypenny in fourteen instalments of the series. Lee was chosen because of being a "prototypical father figure", and Maxwell after Fleming thought she was the perfect fit for his description of the character. Maxwell was initially offered a choice between the roles of Moneypenny or Sylvia Trench and opted for Moneypenny as she thought the Trench role, which included appearing in immodest dress, was too sexual. Eunice Gayson was cast as Sylvia Trench and it was planned that she would be a recurring girlfriend for Bond throughout six films, although she only appeared in Dr. No and From Russia with Love. She had been given the part by director Terence Young, who had worked with her in Zarak and invited Gayson saying "You always bring me luck in my films", although she was also cast due to her voluptuous figure. One role which was not given to a future regular was that of Major Boothroyd, the head of Q-Branch, which was given to Peter Burton. Burton was unavailable for the subsequent film, From Russia with Love, and the role was taken by Desmond Llewelyn.

Anthony Dawson, who played Professor Dent, met director Terence Young when he was working as a stage actor in London, but by the time of the film's shooting Dawson was working as a pilot and crop duster in Jamaica. Dawson also portrayed Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of SPECTRE, in From Russia with Love and Thunderball, although his face was never seen and his voice was dubbed by Eric Pohlmann. Zena Marshall, who played Miss Taro, was mostly attracted by the humorous elements of the script, and described her role as "this attractive little siren, and at the same time I was the spy, a bad woman", who Young asked to play "not as Chinese, but a Mid-Atlantic woman who men dream about but is not real". The role of Taro was previously rejected by Marguerite LeWars, the Miss Jamaica 1961 who worked at the Kingston airport, as it required being "wrapped in a towel, lying in a bed, kissing a strange man". LeWars appeared as a photographer hired by Dr. No instead.

The Introduction of James Bond:

The character James Bond was introduced towards, but not at, the beginning of the film in a "now-famous nightclub sequence featuring Sylvia Trench", to whom he makes his "immortal introduction". The introduction to the character in Le Cercle at Les Ambassadeurs, an upscale gambling club, is derived from Bond's introduction in the first novel, Casino Royale which Fleming had used because "skill at gambling and knowledge of how to behave in a casino were attributes of a gentleman". After losing a hand of Chemin de Fer to Bond, Trench asks his name. There is the "most important gesture [in]...the way he lights his cigarette before giving her the satisfaction of an answer. 'Bond, James Bond'." Once Connery says his line, Monty Norman's Bond theme plays "and creates an indelible link between music and character." In the short scene introducing Bond, there are portrayed "qualities of strength, action, reaction, violence – and this elegant, slightly brutal gambler with the quizzical sneer we see before us who answers a woman when he's good and ready." Raymond Benson, author of the continuation Bond novels, has stated that as the music fades up on the scene, "we have ourselves a piece of classic cinema".  

Following the release of Dr. No, the quote "Bond ... James Bond," became a catch phrase that entered the lexicon of Western popular culture: writers Cork and Scivally said of the introduction in Dr. No that the "signature introduction would become the most famous and loved film line ever". In 2001 it was voted as the "best-loved one-liner in cinema" by British cinema goers. In 2005, it was honored as the 22nd greatest quotation in cinema history by the American Film Institute as part of their 100 Years Series.


Monty Norman was invited to write the soundtrack because Broccoli liked his work on the 1961 theatre production Belle, a musical about murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen. Norman was busy with musicals, and only accepted to do the music for Dr. No after Saltzman allowed him to travel along with the crew to Jamaica. The most famous composition in the soundtrack is the "James Bond Theme", which is heard in the gun barrel sequence and in a calypso medley over the title credits, and was written by Norman based on a previous composition of his. John Barry, who would later go on to compose the music for eleven Bond films, arranged the Bond theme, but was uncredited—except for the credit of his orchestra playing the final piece. It has occasionally been suggested that Barry, not Norman, composed the "James Bond Theme". This argument has been the subject of two court cases, the most recent in 2001, which found in favor of Norman. The theme, as written by Norman and arranged by Barry, was described by another Bond film composer, David Arnold, as "bebop-swing vibe coupled with that vicious, dark, distorted electric guitar, definitely an instrument of rock 'n' represented everything about the character you would want: It was cocky, swaggering, confident, dark, dangerous, suggestive, sexy, unstoppable. And he did it in two minutes."


Dr. No introduced the many recurring themes and features associated with the suave and sophisticated secret agent: the distinctive "James Bond Theme", the gun barrel sequence, his initial mission briefing with M, "Bond girls", the criminal organisation SPECTRE, narrow escapes, Bond's luck and skill, his signature Walther PPK and the license to kill, over-ambitious villains, henchmen and allies. Many characteristics of the following Bond films were introduced in Dr. No, ranging from Bond's introduction as "Bond, James Bond" (although he seems to be mimicking Sylvia Trench who introduces herself first as "Trench. Sylvia Trench"), to his taste for vodka martinis "shaken, not stirred", love interests, and weaponry.

Dr. No also establishes the oft-repeated association (in this case, Project Mercury) between the Bond series and the US manned space program—which would be repeated with Project Gemini in You Only Live Twice, Project Apollo in Diamonds Are Forever, and the space shuttle in Moonraker (not to mention several outer space sequences involving fictional satellite programs in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Die Another Day.

Ian Fleming Novels:

Whilst serving in the Naval Intelligence Division, Ian Fleming had planned to become an author and had told a friend, "I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories." On 17 February 1952, he began writing his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, where he wrote all his Bond novels, during the months of January and February each year. He started the story shortly before his wedding to his pregnant girlfriend, Ann Charteris, in order to distract himself from his forthcoming nuptials.  

Ian Fleming's Goldeneye estate
After completing the manuscript for Casino Royale, Fleming showed the manuscript to his friend (and later editor) William Plomer to read. Plomer liked it and submitted it to the publishers, Jonathan Cape, who did not like it as much. Cape finally published it in 1953 on the recommendation of Fleming's older brother Peter, an established travel writer. Between 1953 and 1966, two years after his death, twelve novels and two short-story collections were published, with the last two books – The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights – published posthumously. All the books were published in the UK through Jonathan Cape.

  • 1953 Casino Royale
  • 1954 Live and Let Die
  • 1955 Moonraker
  • 1956 Diamonds Are Forever
  • 1957 From Russia, with Love
  • 1958 Dr. No
  • 1960 For Your Eyes Only (short stories)
  • 1961 Thunderball
  • 1962 The Spy Who Loved Me
  • 1963 On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  • 1964 You Only Live Twice
  • 1965 The Man with the Golden Gun
  • 1966 Octopussy and The Living Daylights (short stories) 

Dr. No was directed by Terence Young and written by Richard Maibaum, Berkely Mather and Johanna Harwood, based on a novel by Ian Fleming.
Rated PG, 110 min, Mono, 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio.


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