This thread is mod-approved by Rogue1-and-a-half Following the recent release of the excellent 23rd Bond film Skyfall, and drawing from a discussion held in the Amphitheater circa 2006/07 where the mods took turns in reviewing Bond films until the then-newest, Casino Royale, we will discuss the Bond films one by one. For the sake of observing the official continuity, the non-EON productions of Casino Royale (both) and Never Say Never Again will be covered after the EON series is finished. Additionally, this is not a review but rather a hosted discussion through the history. If possible, I'd recommend watching the film prior to the conversation. Let's kick off with the first film... 1962. For 9 years now, Ian Lancaster Fleming had been pumping out novels (by the time Bond hit the big screen, Fleming had written 9 novels and 5 short stories about the character) and Bond had become a certified icon. Fleming had for years tried to get Bond filmed, and had even written a film treatment with Kevin McClory (who will feature later in our discussions) that he eventually released as Thunderball. Two producers - Canadian Harry Saltzman, and American Albert R "Cubby" Broccoli - secured the rights to the novels and started work on producing them into the film series we know and love. Originally, they wanted Cary Grant to play Bond but the actor would only commit to one film. Other choices were mooted, including Fleming's preference of David Niven (presumably based on his real life experiences as a commando) before Sean Connery was finally selected. Fleming was not amused at first and referred to Connery as an overgrown stunt man. None the less, he had the devil-may-care attitude and landed the role. From there, director Terence Young took Bond to his Saville Row tailor, his barber, and introduced Connery to the kind of refined life Bond lead. From there, the rest is history... Dr No Plot When "Our Man in Kingston", Strangways, fails to check in during a routine radio mission, the SIS sends 00 agent James Bond to Jamaica to investigate. Bond soon discovers that Strangways was onto something big - a nearby island of Crab Key contained SPECTRE operative Dr No, who was using radio waves to throw US rockets off course. Background Dr No was the sixth of Ian Fleming's novels, and one of many to be set in whole or in part in Jamaica, where Fleming himself resided for large parts of the year at an estate known as Goldeneye. In these formative years, it's important not to separate the author from his work, since he imbued much of himself in the character. Originally, producers had wanted to film Thunderball first, but the legal dispute over rights and authorship impeded that choice. Given the low budget - $1mil - Dr No's lack of location changes made it an ideal choice to film. During the film, Connery wears the watch Ian Fleming gave his character - a Rolex Submariner. Given the constraints on the production budget, it's Cubby Broccoli's actual watch that Connery wears! Review: The film contains arguably the best Bond introduction in the franchise's history: For a film that's 50 years old, it still stacks up well today. The advantage the producers had was that Bond, as a character, was established and well known so he's fleshed out and this means much of the film hangs on Connery's shoulders. For someone inexperienced, he does a remarkable job and seems at home in the role. Despite obvious effects with the tarantula scene, the film is nevertheless still reasonably grounded and lacks the fantastical elements of the later films (Dr No's lair notwithstanding). The next film is arguably even less fantastical, which is why these first two are more thrillers than anything else. Bond meeting officials at Government House, Bond meeting Strangway's people at the club - it's more detective novel than spy caper. The timing is similar to early seasons of Mad Men, and you can see that the fashion in that show is accurate given Connery's excellent tailored wardrobe: Look at what Draper wears, and you'll the similarities. Overall I rather like Dr No. Relative to the rest of the series, it's wonderfully low key but it manages some real tension, some excellent action, and some cold brutality. Bond's disposing of Dent, who is effectively unarmed, is remorseless and deadly and completely in character. Honey Rider, despite missing her more tragic backstory, isn't an incompetent bimbo whom 007 needs to rescue at every turn, though he manages to patronise her for good measure with her belief int he dragon. Hawaii Five-O's Jack Lord is fairly bland as Leiter, starting a long tradition of forgettable actors in the role. Bond's signature Walther PPK is introduced here, replacing Bond's Beretta. A nice reference to the previous novel is made regarding the Beretta jamming (itat the end of FRWL, Bond's silencer makes his gun get caught, and he ends up poisoned by Rosa Klebb's shoe), though in the novels Bond's Beretta was a 418 in .25ACP not the M1934 .380ACP seen in the film. Bond Connery is not quite at his peak yet, that will come with his next 3 films, but there's a rawness to his performance which was never replicated elsewhere. The producers apparently felt he was sufficiently powerful looking whilst still having a kind of feline grace, and I'd agree with that assessment. He deals with the chauffeur with a ruthless pragmatism, as he does with Dent. He's still sufficiently suave with Sylvia Trench, Miss Taro and yet protective and tender with Honeychile Rider. Given the lower budget and lack of real star power, most of the work here falls to Connery. Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya in FRWL help add some grativas to the film but here Connery's the star. We spend a lot of the film focussing solely on him as Bond, with no gadgets and tricks, just his fists and wits. Connery is faultless in that regard, really giving life to Fleming';s character. So impressed was Fleming that he added a Scottish background to Bond, which we saw explored more in Skyfall. How it fits in the series Obviously, this being where it all began we owe much of the franchise to traditions established here. Bond's Walther PPK is unchanged (excepting Octopussy) until 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies; and the gunbarrel opening is kept until Casino Royale where it appears in different format. Bond plays his first game of chemin-de-fer baccarat at the club in London. By my recollection, he will play this again in Thunderball; On Her Majesty's Secret Service; For Your Eyes Only, and GoldenEye. As it is shot out of sequence with the novel's chronology, there are elements in the film which didn't appear in the novel and affect the continuity. For example, Bond met Leiter in Casino Royale and Quarrel in Live and Let Die; the latter's death in Dr No meant when they filmed Dr No, they had to rather dubiously name someone "Quarrel Jr".(This isn't nearly as difficult as the OHMSS/YOLT filming, where in OHMSS Bond and Blofeld don't recognise one another). The Sylvia Trench character was slated to appear as a London-based girlfriend for Bond for all the films. She appears at the picnic next to Bond's Bentley in the next film, but is ditched after this. Anthony Dawson, who played Dent, would later appear in For Russia With Love as the voice of Blofeld. Lois Maxwell and Bernard Lee appear; Maxwell stays until 1985's A View To a Kill and Bernard Lee's last film was Moonraker, before his passing. In conclusion; Dr No is something of an oddity in that it doesn't have a lot of the established conventions of the series and it outside the classic Bond formula, which stayed largely intact until the 2006 reboot (notable exceptions notwithstanding). Yet, thanks largely to Connery and the strength of the source material (Dr No is one of the better books) it still feels familiar and undoubtedly a Bond story. Plus, that entrance from Ursula Andress... how could I forget that? Overall, I would give this 005/007 stars. Questions for reflection: 1) After seeing Skyfall and where Bond is 50 years later, how do you feel about the film that started it all? 2) Do you wish the films kept more of this gritty thriller style, or are you happy with the formula that was developed in Goldfinger and kept for years to come? 3) Is this not the weakest of all Bond car chases? 4) Was this Connery's best, or just Connery's most threatening performance?