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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 39.58%
Average: 10.42%
Pretty Bad: 6.25%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 42 user ratings

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Dr. No
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by MP Bartley

"The One Where It All Started."
4 stars

James Bond films are now like Christmas, World Cups and elections. They happen on such a regular occasion we take them for granted and often forget where they came from in the first place. It's almost impossible to watch 'Dr. No' objectively now - you'll be watching it and thinking things like "Hey, no theme song? That's weird" or "Where's Q?". 'Dr. No' is a damn solid thriller, but probably not the film that guaranteed the birth of a cinematic icon. That was a couple of films down the line, but 'Dr. No' is a fine starter to the Bond legend regardless.

Kingston, Jamaica. British operative Strangways has disappeared and so to has his secretary. Strangways was assisting the CIA in finding the source of a missile-toppling device operating somewhere in the area. Missiles have been lost at sea and in the middle of Brazil and with a moon-shot due in the next few days, the Americans are anxious to get to the bottom of it. To assist them British Intelligence send Bond (Sean Connery) to get to the bottom of the mystery.

It's amusing to watch 'Dr. No' now and see what exactly is missing that would later be pre-requisites of all Bond films. There's no theme tune (just the first rendition of THAT signature tune over the credits. Has there been a more iconic piece of music?), no Q (just a Major Boothroyd) so therefore no inventions, no diabolical henchmen, no car chases and the Bond girl doesn't show up until the last 40 minutes. At times it would be easy to think you're watching a thriller and not the beginnings of cinema's favourite spy.

This all works in its favour however. Bond here isn't a gadget-laden Superman, he's a strong, intelligent man getting to the bottom of the mystery through good old-fashioned detective work and intelligence. It may not be the most exciting Bond film (the action is actually pretty thin on the ground), but it's actually preferable to see Bond get through his missions by using guile and cunning, rather than a handy fix-everything briefcase provided by Q. The sleuthing and intrigue grabs our interest and never loses us, affording the opportunity to drop in scenes like a poisonous spider left in Bond's bed, which bristles with tension.

So what elements are instantly recognisable then as essentially Bond? We get the first and best M (Bernard Lee) and the first and best Felix Leiter (Jack Lord). We get the requisite exotic location and the first and best Bond girl, Honey Ryder. Has any woman ever looked more stunning in a film than Ursula Andress striding out of the sea in her bikini? Probably not and Halle Berry's Jinx doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same franchise, let alone breath.

One of the most important elements that 'Dr. No' gets right straight away is it's villain. Joseph Wiseman's Dr. No may not be the greatest Bond villain ever (he's no Blofeld, Kananga or Goldfinger) but even a second-rate Bond villain is better than most other cinema bad guys. He's a memorable image if nothing else with his cream suit and metal hands and certainly ensured the tradition that a great Bond film has to have a great villain.

And what of Bond himself? Is Connery still the best Bond ever?

Yes and no. Yes, he's the most cinematic Bond, but not the closest Bond of Fleming's books (that would be Timothy Dalton). Connery is iconic from the start here, from a magnificent delivery of his introductory line to brawling it out with Dr. No and his henchmen. He's still finding his feet in the role however, as is the film and his customary charm has yet to be fully developed. He's a much more curt, physical character than he would later develop into. His callous shooting of an unarmed No associate is still one of the series most shocking and brutal moments. Connery here is as close to Flemings 'cold, blunt government instrument' as he ever would be, and it's doubtful that the Bond series would still be around if he hadn't been as impactful as he instantly was. And the good news was that he was going to get even better.

For those raised on the high-octane thrills of a Moore or Brosnan Bond, the seemingly low-key 'Dr. No' may seem like a let-down. It's all about the intrigue in terms of plot however and in terms of the series it's about learning to walk before you can run. It's an exercise in establishing the strong basics before embellishing them and as well as being a great film in its own right, 'Dr. No' is a superior Bond entry. So ignore the lack of easy thrills and just feel the iconography.

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originally posted: 07/13/04 01:19:25
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User Comments

11/01/20 bored mom The most important Bond has a Scottish accent. :) 5 stars
7/13/19 Suzanne begins the tradition of he villain keeping Bond alive so he could explain his motives 4 stars
10/16/12 Dr.Lao Different, but still very enjoyable 4 stars
5/21/12 keith miron Stupid ! Dr. no should have killed Bond right away, insted having him stay overnight 2 stars
4/11/10 Black Lance Average 3 stars
12/13/08 Ravenwest Not bad 4 stars
11/11/08 Mark Gibson its quite slow in some places and dated but at the time it defined cinema 4 stars
1/28/08 JV35 Outstanding 5 stars
7/21/07 Sugarfoot A great beginning to the franchise, but still not as good as it would become. 5 stars
4/24/07 David Risser This personally is my least favorite Bond. The earlier Bonds are mostly little action. 2 stars
4/13/07 David Pollastrini lots of hot women in this! 4 stars
1/23/07 action movie fan best film of 1963 thriller with great sets,only cars and hairstayle are dated 5 stars
9/24/06 ProSneakyD The film that spawned a legacy, it maybe a bit tame but it's a classic. 5 stars
5/18/06 Uk_shooter quite dull not much action overall lame and boring 2 stars
1/03/06 Anthony Feor Without a doubt, the best old Bond movie ever 5 stars
11/20/05 chris a great bond movie however it lacks the action that the other bond movies have 3 stars
10/26/05 Nick A good movie, not great like many of the sequels 4 stars
5/26/05 tony The best way to start a phenomenon. Filled with stunts, thrills and sexy ladies! 5 stars
4/15/05 Chris Frint its kinda of boring with not a lot of action but the series had to start somewhere 5 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold Extremely dated, a just OK entry in the Bond series, don't care if it was 1st. 3 stars
1/26/05 Tom Benton A terrific debut for James Bond. 4 stars
1/08/05 keithers.. Connery is and always will be JAMES BOND 4 stars
11/17/04 C Vega The Film That Began The Bond Phenomenom, Connery Is Miles Way Better Than His Sucessors 5 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Probably my favourite Bond movie 5 stars
7/25/04 Ron Newbold This was the first Bond film I saw and it hooked me on the films. Connery is James Bond 4 stars
7/17/04 legend One of the better Bond films with good villians and action. 4 stars
7/15/04 Waiata Holds up... Nice style 4 stars
7/13/04 Alfred Guy Dr. No is the best, IMO. This movie shows Bond's class, libido and ruthlessness. 5 stars
11/29/03 john great island atmosphere -and of course Honey Rider 5 stars
7/06/03 Paul S. "1000000 dollars, Mr Bond - you were wondering what it cost ..." 5 stars
5/16/03 Andrew Carden Andress & Lord Are Simply Amazing; Connery Is Good In His 1st Bond Outing. 5 stars
3/20/03 Cameron Slick Without a shadow of a doubt the best Bond ever. 5 stars
2/01/03 dionwr Connery's a star, Andress is gorgeous--but the movie is only so-so 3 stars
1/14/03 alien assassin Still a classic. Loved the scene with the spider. 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum A little awkward, but a fine start to the series 4 stars
9/17/02 CVJ the first and one of the best bond movies 5 stars
9/09/01 Henry Ginsberg The first and still the best of the James Bond seiries. 5 stars
4/03/01 fifu neat and worth a look seems almost pre james bond with no spying or Q but gets betteratend 4 stars
3/28/01 R.W. Welch Dawn of the blockbuster series, probably only exceeded by Goldfinger. 5 stars
4/08/00 Gremlin The classic Bond movie, much respect 5 stars
11/04/99 Karahde Khan The 1st Bond film, and one of the best. Dr. No is one of the coolest villains in the series 5 stars
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  08-May-1963 (PG)

  05-Oct-1962 (PG)

  N/A (PG)

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