There’s a word that describes this film well: classic.
James Bond’s first film adventure, and one of his greatest!
Many people classify this as a boring/dull Bond film, and I believe it’s very under-rated. Sure, Bond’s not flinging gadgets around, running through stealth boats with armed guards after him, or driving a bobsled around the Alps; however, that may be the best part about the film. Most of the film is pretty simple- even the general storyline is, for the most part. Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate what is causing interference with American space launches- during the mission, we’re given romance, classic action, some espionage, and thrills. Plus, Connery is just oh-so-cool in this film, and Ursula Andress is stunning.
The locations used in the film are very vibrant and gorgeous to see on screen. The colors of Jamaica really pop out to the audience, especially on Crab Key. While Bond, Quarrel, and Honey roam around the jungle, through swamps and rivers, I’m just amazed by the visuals. The water falls are gorgeous- so gorgeous, it makes me wish I was there to swim around in them. The sand is perfect on that beach. The locations are just so great, it really made me want to be there. No complaints at all.
As for the music, I’ve got various opinions. The soundtrack, in my opinion, is hardly interesting- the actual album soundtrack, I mean. It contains some catchy, jazzy / Jamaican-style tunes, but really doesn’t relate to the scenes in the film at all. “Dr. No’s Fantasy” on the soundtrack seems like a dance tune you’d see in an Elvis film that takes place in Hawaii. However, in the film, I feel that the music was used quite accordingly. I used to have a problem with the James Bond theme playing too often. Now, I don’t think it was play too much at all. Just right, and stylishly, also. Cues from “The Island Speaks” were worked in well, too. The dramatic and suspenseful James Bond theme orchestral (which I don’t think is on the soundtrack) also fits well with the scenes like the finale, when complete chaos is taking place in No’s base of operations. The final cues of the film really stick in my head, though. The very orchestrated version of “Underneath the Mango Tree”, as we see the lone boat in the ocean, and the titles “The___End”, placed uniquely around the boat. Again- classic.
Dr. No is definitely one of the more “down to business” villains of the series. He’s an incredibly intelligent villain, and somewhat intimidating. There’s no joking around, and no BS games with this baddie. He’s probably one of my favorite SPECTRE agents, next to Grant and Klebb. You can certainly understand why SPECTRE avenges his death in the sequel to this film- just because he was such a great villain amongst the SPECTRE organization. Dent was also an interesting character, with probably the most well-done death of the whole franchise. “… And you’ve had your six…” [boom… boom]. What could I describe that with? Classic works.
As I mentioned, Connery is wonderful in this film. It’s almost like Connery isn’t even acting, and instead, just doing everything naturally. A natural James Bond, if you will. That’s what I love about his films. The only other guy I can see this with is Craig, which is why I hold these two actors so high up on my Bond actor list.
No’s base of operations at Crab Key was certainly an ace job. Another thumbs up to Ken Adam. The aquarium, No’s dining room, and No’s laboratory, are all part of a quintessential Bond villain lair. When I think a Bond villain hideout, No’s base is one that comes to mind.
Though the film is riddled with great scenes, one that has always been my favorite took place during the finale, as the base is ready to explode. As Bond is searching for Honey, he trips up an anonymous guard, and exclaims, “Where’s the girl!”
The guard doesn’t know, and therefore, Bond punches him in the face and carries on. That’s classic James Bond, in my opinion
Alright. So that covers a lot of the good stuff. Where’s the bad?
Good question- where is the bad in this film?
That’s the thing. There hardly is any.
Besides a few minor continuity or prop errors, there’s really nothing to complain about with the actual film. Sure, the soundtrack wasn’t my favorite, but the way they incorporated the music into the film worked. So, I can’t even complain there.
All in all, Connery is superior, Andress is gorgeous, and Wiseman proves to be a formidable foe. The locations are vibrant, and the plot is smart and simple. This film was a perfect foundation for a series that would last for over 40 years, and counting.