Saturday, December 29, 2012

Double-Oh...1: Dr. No

Over the next few weeks I'll be jotting down some thoughts on Bond, James Bond as I run through the series in order, barring the campy 60's version of Casino Royale.  I haven't decided yet whether the Thunderball reprise, Never Say Never Again, will make it in.

Dr. No Preamble:  I've never watched Dr. No before, nor to my recollection have I watched any of the Connery Bond.  As a child of the 80's I mainly grew up with Roger Moore's Bond (most of which I haven't viewed since, at least, the early 90's).  I'm a Bond fan, just not a very good one.  I love the idea of Bond and the structure of Bond films, so going into Dr. No I'm tremendously curious.

Villain(s): Dr No is the bad guy of the piece, introduced early in the second act as a mysterious disembodied voice.  He's finally introduced mid-way through the third act, a German-chinese uber-genius, with robotic, rock crushing hands.  It's evident he's in want of friends/admirers and is keen on having Bond as an accomplice (hence why he doesn't just kill him).  Dr. No is an intriguing but ultimately unexplored villain, which diminishes his threat level.  He does go down rather easy.
His lair is an expansive atomic facility full of alternately sparse and posh sets.  It's a glorious 60's-style design providing a lot of visual pop, it's just a shame it took so long to get to them. The dragon (a fire spewing tank the henchmen patrol the island in) is laughably ridiculous, but his hazard suited henchmen are classic.
It's quite evident at the end, when everyone's evacuating the lair that, man, a lot of people work for Dr. No, if'n they're not all employees of SPECTRE.

Bond Girl(s): Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson): Bond meets playing baccarat in his introductory scene.  She's exceptionally forward, proving irresistable to Bond.  (Bond is much better looking though).
Ms. Taro (Zena Marshall): what we call "poseur Asian", a common role in the 60's.  Ms. Taro is not too bright and a terrible liar.  Bond, the cad, chews her up and spits her out.
Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) - tough, cunning but childlike, experienced, smart but uneducated, pretty but unfortunately useless in the grander scheme.  She's sadly only there to look pretty.

Theme/Credits: pop, flash animated letters surrounded by silhouetted gogo girls while the Bond theme plays.  It transitions to a bongo rhythm then to calypso rendition of Three Blind Mice which leads into the opening sequence. Under The Mango Tree is prominently featured throughout the film.  All uninspiring (though I do like the font work in the titles).

Bond: Connery cuts an immaculately shaped figure, particularly in his introductory tux, dashingly well-coiffed and groomed. He flirts with gratuitous ease and has little conscience when it comes to using women.  He's equally willing to shoot an unarmed man ("it's a Smith and Wesson, and you've used your six" (double tap)) and likes to toy with his "victims".

Movie: It's a bit slow to start and features the typical pacing/awkward fight sequencing/clunky editing/ham-fisted over-gesticulating acting you find in '60's action movies.. It's more investigative than action-oriented which isn't necessarily bad, just not very much balance with the two.  The investigative side is a nice build-up to the Sci-fi aspects feature in Dr. No's lair on Crab Key. but the payoff just isn't there.  The confrontation between Bond and No lacks any real gravity.  The film's apex is unthrilling and it's conclusion is quite abrupt

Q gadgets:  Q delivers Bond his signature Walter ppk 9mm

Classification (out of 01.0): 00.6