We Have No Need of a Doctor (1962)

With 22 months to go until the release of Bond 23, there is just enough time to set ourselves (under The Incredible Suit‘s direction) the mission quite possible of watching one Bond movie per month until the next instalment’s 2012 release. Nevertheless arriving late to the party, may I present my take on Bond’s big screen genesis: Dr. No.

Following the assassination of Britsh Intelligence officer John Strangways in Jamaica by the Three Blind Mice, James Bond (Sean Connery) is called out of a card game in London and briefed for his mission: investigate his fellow field agent’s disappearance and what it might have to do with his cooperation with the CIA. Armed with his (to become) trademark Walther PPK, Bond sets about finding receipts, killing spiders and getting captured – his investigations leading him to Crab Key where he acquaints himself with Honey Ryder’s (Ursula Andress) bikini and Dr. No’s (Joseph Wiseman) importantly metal hands.

Opening with a somewhat psychedelic series of retro spots which quickly give way to the iconic gun-barrel opening, this is James Bond but not necessarily as you remember him. As a series of thoroughly unsexy silhouettes dance across the screen to the Jamaican chimes of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires’ Kingston Calypso, the deja-vu is welcomingly tempered with an unexpected dose of novelty. I, after all, am more familiar with the invisible car than Bond’s humbler beginnings, this BlogalongaBond giving me the opportunity revisit the character’s early days – before his eventual campness earns him a friendly neighbourhood rebooting.

Born from Ian Fleming’s imagination a Scot, the character of James Bond – a fictional spy who has by now surrendered to regeneration almost as often as Doctor Who –  was won by 30 year old Sean Connery for Dr. No, one of the most faithful adaptations in the series (sans giant squid, unfortunately). While familiarly witty, suave and Lynx (deodorant, not wildcat) incarnate, there is a reason Connery is often considered the best Bond. Armed with only a gun, a distinctive taste in Martini and enough chest hair to clog Niagara Falls, it is disarming to note just how resourceful James Bond was prior to Q’s ongoing departure from reality. Who needs a submersible Lotus Esprit when you have talcum powder and a strand of your own hair? Connery proves that you don’t have to be ‘reimagined’ as Bourne to ooze gravitas and believability, you just need a brain.

While Dr. No may sport the definitive Bond, however, it leaves considerable room for improvement where the primary love interest and villain are concerned. Not introducing the featured Bondgirl or resident evil until approximately 1 hour in, Dr. No is all build up with little pay off. Although making more of an impression in such stilted screen time than Halle Berry managed in an entire movie, Ursula Andress isn’t even sloppy seconds but threadbare thirds. As for the titular Dr. No, the deformed mastermind is about as nefarious as a villainous Thunderbirds puppet – failing to make as lasting impression as Mike Myer’s lampoon-stealing spoof.

Dr. No is nevertheless enjoyable as it makes full use of its franchise-low budget to set the scene for future greatness. The James Bond theme is arrestingly prominent after two features of having been unceremoniously relegated to the end credits, the gun barrel opening is brutally primitive and Bond enjoys a deliciously self-aware introduction – suitably iconic and with wondrous hindsight. Mistakenly titled We Have No Need of a Doctor in Japan courtesy of a wayward question mark, Dr. No ultimately cements Bond, James Bond’s pop-cultural status beautifully.

Roll on From Russia With Love.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

3 Responses to We Have No Need of a Doctor (1962)

  1. M. Hufstader says:

    I’ve never heard of that whole Japanese title bit, and that definitely made my day. Well, that and Connery’s Niagara Falls clogging hair. Brilliant, my friend.

    • Ha ha, thanks you. It was difficult trying to find a slant that hadn’t already been taken by other BlogalongaBonders. I really enjoyed your own review, you’re spot on – Dr. No was in desperate need of better hench-people!

      I’m really looking forward to the next one.

  2. Pingback: January 2011 – It’s on like Donkey Kong « popcornaddict

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