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“Bond. James Bond.”
Film critic Peter Bradshaw once wrote, “It is the most famous self-introduction from any character in movie history. Three cool monosyllables. Surname first, a little curtly…and then, as if an afterthought, the first name, followed by the surname again. Connery carried it off with an icily disdainful style, in full evening dress [and] with a cigarette hanging from his lips.”
The origins of Bond and “Dr. No”
U.K. writer Ian Fleming’s novel “Dr. No” was first published in 1958. Four years later, the silver screen treatment gave movie fans worldwide a chance to see, for the first time, Fleming’s fearless, dashing, lady-loving Agent 007 in a highly entertaining bit of celluloid melodrama.
And its handsome star was a 32-year-old newcomer with a thin résumé. The Scottish breakout actor, Sean Connery, was born in 1930 to an Edinburgh factory worker and a cleaning woman. As an adult, Connery worked as a milkman, a truck driver, a lifeguard, an artist’s model and a coffin polisher before he gained fame and fortune via James Bond.
As licensed-to-kill Agent 007, our hero was about as sexy and dangerous as one could get. But before the movie-going public was allowed to see (and fall in love with) Connery, director Terence Young first chose to tutor the rough-around-the-edges actor in how to display wit, charm and style as the charismatic Bond character. And although Sean stood 6 feet, 2 inches tall, all the sets and furniture were built slightly smaller than in real life, so as to make Agent 007 appear even larger and more imposing than he actually was.
In “Dr. No,” Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and his secretary. He eventually becomes involved with a mysterious and sinister nuclear scientist named Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman), who espouses world domination as his goal.
Along the way, Mr. 007 has to contend with such inconveniences as a “deadly” tarantula (tarantulas aren’t poisonous), flame throwers, flying bullets, severe beatings and a near drowning. Adding to the complications is a trio of temptresses—the Oriental charmer Miss Taro (Zena Marshall), casino denizen Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson), and the bikini-clad, seashell-collecting siren Honey Ryder (Ursulla Andress).
Dr. No doesn’t actually appear until 1 hour and 27 minutes into the story. At one point, the no-goodnik tries in vain to persuade Agent 007 to join his evil organization. That’s when Dr. No huffs, “I thought you had some style, Mr. Bond, but I see you’re just a stupid policeman.”
“Dr. No” provided the signature elements for the later James Bond movie offerings—its distinctive theme music; head-spinning, high-octane action sequences; alluring young women and even James’s preference for vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred).
Footnote: When the feature was released, United Artists had to make some adjustments to the title before it reached foreign markets. In South Korea, for example, the film’s name would have been literally translated as “007 Murder Number,” and in Japan, the movie would have been called “We Don’t Want Doctors!”