Making the Grades
The James Bond film franchise celebrates an anniversary in 2012. 50 years have passed since the 1962 London Premier of the movie Dr. No introduced the charming, self-possessed British secret agent to the big screen and spawned a surge in spy genre films.
In the story James Bond (played first by Sean Connery who starred in a total of six Bond movies) flies to the tropical island of Jamaica to investigate after Agent John Strangways (Tim Moxon) suddenly disappears. From the moment Bond steps foot in the Kingston airport, he suspects he is under surveillance. Then minutes later he finds himself pursued by the occupants of a large black car in a high-speed chase.
After successfully evading them, James arrives at the British Government House and begins asking questions. He soon discovers Agent Strangways had collected a number of radioactive rocks from the nearby Crab Key Island where Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman) runs a mining operation. Yet it appears that Dr. No is more interested in scuttling the Americans’ moon launch than retrieving minerals from the ground.
At first, Quarrel (John Kitsmiller), the Cayman boat owner who shuttled Agent Strangways to the isolated landmass, isn’t eager to ferry James to the island to confirm his suspicions about the lunar launch. Fortunately with a little intervention from the American CIA, the ever-persuasive 007 soon has Quarrel quietly paddling a boat onto the sandy beach of Crab Key island.
Famous for his womanizing ways, Bond engages in flirtations with the home office secretary, finds a half-dressed woman in his apartment, seduces the Government House secretary and charms the front desk girl at his hotel (although few details are shown on screen). But the sexual repartee begins in earnest when James meets a knife-wielding, bikini-clad shell collector named Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) on the island.
The film’s sexual overtones (including the discussion of a rape) and Bond’s fondness for firewater and a cigarette are only eclipsed by the depictions of violence. While the special effects are often kitschy and underwhelming by today’s standards, the movie still contains several shooting deaths, poisonings, a car explosion that kills the occupants, brutal beatings and a drowning scene.
Compared to Daniel Craig’s interpretation of the super spy, this agent seems more interested in taking off his shirt and engaging in sexual banter than bullet-laden brawls with the bad guys. While the 1962 Bond still doesn’t qualify for great family entertainment, older audiences may enjoy watching the birth of Bond on the big screen.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Dr. No.
James Bond is a fictional character created by author Ian Fleming in 1953 and featured in twelve novels. When explaining his choice of a name for his hero, Fleming said in the 21 April 1962 New Yorker, “I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened. When I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought… (James Bond) is the dullest name I ever heard.” Fleming named his spy after American ornithologist James Bond who wrote the field guide Birds of the West Indies. Fleming is also said to have given the literary character many of his own traits.
Would you like a famous literary character named after you? What kind of character would he or she be?
How are women portrayed in Dr. No? Do the female characters play a different or similar role in today’s adaptations? In what ways does the hero of the 1962 movie differ from the current character?
Does smoking in movies influence people to smoke? Is it more appealing when the protagonist uses tobacco? How does the depiction of cigarette use in Dr. No compare with movies today?