Bond in Review: Dr.No Part II

Bond arrives at the airport in Kingston, Jamaica, and he’s got eyes on him-one of them is Felix Leiter, who of course will play a larger role in things to come, not only in this film, but across the rest of the series (Felix actually isn’t in the novel at all)

 

Somewhat more sinister eyes are photographer “Freelance” (played by Marquerite Lewars, who like Strangway’s secretary was actually a resident of Jamaica-a former Miss Jamaica in fact-and actually worked at the airport where they filmed!)

and Bond’s driver from “Government house” (But in fact not really, as Bond double-checks and they didn’t send anyone). Bond of course is quick to the deception, and lets the guy eggs him on anyway (leading to them both being chased by Felix, who Bond isn’t aware he’s on his side). Next we get a fun sequence where Bond effortlessly handles the henchman, but before he can talk, he takes a bite of a cyanide cigarette.

Returning properly to Government house (with the henchman’s corpse in the back seat!) Bond talks with the Chief secretary, and notes that his arrival leaked-probably due to his own secretary, Miss Taro (a spy for Dr.No), who along with “Freelance” can be considered one of the first “evil” Bond girls.

 

We get an interesting scene at the hotel where Bond gets his first on-screen vodka martini. Except Bond doesn’t really say anything-the waiter does. “One medium dry vodka martini mixed like you said, sir, but not stirred.” It’s a common myth that Bond says this in every film (“Bond, James Bond” is far more present). In fact, it’s more often ordered for him by colleagues. I think Timothy Dalton was pretty much the only Bond who was consistent with it-and of course he only appeared in two films. Bond also does something pretty interesting, plucking a hair from his head and putting it across the closet doors, so if it’s broken he’ll know if someone’s snooping around.

We also get the first of many hotel receptionists in the films who eye Bond.

 

Bond then meets socially with Strangeway’s pals, and of course Dent lets slip that he’s seen Strangeway’s secretary. He also visits Strangeway’s house, confirming the blood type of the secretary and noticing a picture of Strangeways with a local fisherman, who Bond follows as his next port of call.

 

Although an initial misunderstanding occurs (and hey look, Red stripe product placement!) Bond learns that Quarrel and bartender Puss-Feller were friends of Strangways, and are in fact working with CIA agent Felix Leiter. Here we see the beginnings of Felix and Bond’s friendship in the series, which will reach it’s climax in Licence to Kill; a film that, with it’s initial Florida keys backdrop, brings up a similar Caribbean atmosphere at times to Dr.No. Although of course it’s a different actor as Felix, and a different genesis to their friendship would occur in “Casino Royale.”

 

The first Felix is played by Jack Lord, who went on to star in the long-running crime drama Hawaii 5-0. (There’s a remake of the series on now, which is part of the “NCIS universe”). With his cool, no-nonsense attitude and charm,He pretty much sets the tone for future Felixes here (although some would be a bit more distinct or like his immediate successor, radically different), and they even re-used the mysterious man in sunglasses trick for Thunderball three films later. (Thunderball likewise uses extensive Caribbean locations)

Which kind of brings me to another point-a lot of “Dr.No” is pretty much Bond as a crime detective, and less the action man we see in later films. Although Bond’s sleuthing is in pretty much every film, it’s often downplayed by all the action and gadgets, and certain villains of course make it blatantly obvious that they’re there’s something not quite altruistic about them when they try to kill Bond fairly early (Drax, Carver, Kamal Khan, and Goldfinger and Largo’s vanity gives them away as well)-although in some cases it takes Bond a little bit more to catch on (Trevalyn/006 from Goldeneye being an obvious one, but also Kristatos in “For Your Eyes Only”).

Bond learns from the group that Strangeways was working with Quarrel in checking out the islands nearby for radioactive rocks, including Crab Key, which has a Bauxite Mine and a mysterious owner-Doctor No (His name said dramatically by Felix at the end of the scene, making it the first time the title is said in the film, although this would become something used in later Bond movies for the most part, whether as the name of an object/macguffin or villain or just for dramatic effect, although sometimes clumsily, such as in “View to A Kill”). They also find and interrogate Freelance, who can’t quite work out a convincing alibi.

Speaking of bad alibis, Bond then meets with Professor Dent, and it’s also blatantly obvious that he’s covering something up, as he “threw away” Strangeway’s samples of Crab Key. Realizing that Bond is on to him, he quickly goes to Crab Key,  and we get our first real glimpse of Ken Adam’s incredible set design for the series, which would include many other notable villain lairs such as SPECTRE’s volcano base in You Only Live Twice, the Liparus in Spy Who Loved Me, the Moonraker space station etc.) Although Dr.No was fairly low-budget compared to these later efforts (Only about $1 Million), it’s amazing what he’s able to do here with just a chair, door, a largely blank room, a grate and shadows.

 

 

Dr.No gives Dent a gift to take out Bond-a Tarantula. Of course Tarantulas aren’t really that deadly compared to some other Spider species, but they still kind of look imposing as they’re pretty big (In the novel this was a deadly species of centipede, which technically aren’t 100% deadly either). Obviously Sean didn’t want it to really crawl on him either, as one can see there’s clearly glass between him and the centipede as you can see his arm pressed against it.

Bond lets the Tarantula pass over him, and then dramatically smashes it to death with his shoe. This is pretty much Bond’s first on-screen kill; he didn’t kill the chauffer earlier, that was suicide. What’s kind of funny is that the music is scychronized with every shoe smash. THWACK…THWACK! THWACK!THWACK!THWACK!

 

Next, I’ll cover Bond’s liaison with Miss Taro and his actual first on-screen kills, as he takes on the three Blind Mice and Professor Dent-in one of the most classic Bond scenes and quotes.

 

 

 

 

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