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In his first screen outing, Bond (Sean Connery) has to save the American space program from the coolly evil Dr No (Joseph Wiseman), whose giant island HQ is off the US coast around Jamaica.

A black jack table in a smart casino. Glamorous people. Someone’s hand is flipping his cards. And collecting the winnings. Again…and again….who are you? asks a gorgeous brunette across the table, and for the first time, we see his ‘ruthlessly handsome’ face. "Bond (flicks lighter) James Bond." The first words spoken by Sean Connery in his role as Bond on the (Pinewood Studios) set of the first Bond film have echoed throughout cinema history since that January day in 1962.

Terence Young was 47 when he directed Dr No, a stylish man with impeccable taste and a penchant for the good life. Were it not for the champagne he favoured, he could almost be the original mold for James Bond. Indeed, Young was as much the creator of the Bond persona and image as was Sean Connery, as the two featurettes in this DVD edition of Dr No reveal.

It was Young, for instance, who supervised the choice of Bond’s tailor and shirt maker, and it was Young who selected Bond’s cigarette lighter.

The 40 minute Inside Dr No feature is narrated (in the present tense) by Patrick Macnee, adding even more to the material’s British mood and feel. Although produced by Americans, Dr No has none of modern Hollywood’s distractions and superficiality. Even the locations are ‘foreign’ to Americans, from London itself to Jamaica, where the filmmakers found the most exotically beautiful spot for the libido-jolting scene of Ursula Andress walking out of the ocean in her white bikini. She recalls with wry humour how she had to be body painted nude to achieve that ‘natural’ tan she had, and how – while this was going on – every man on set seemed to be concerned for her welfare for they brought in 12 breakfast trays.

Typical of doco writer/director John Cork’s obsessive attention to detail, this is crammed with information and focuses on the Bond business, not just the making of the film. Some of the material shot for the Harry Saltzman profile on the DVD of From Russia With Love, reappears here in this context.

Among the dozens of items of what today is either fascinating trivia or valuable film history (depending on how serious you are about these things) we learn how Sean Connery was cast – and who turned in down with a short note saying "No, No, No, No."

The doco also discusses Bond’s first killing, and how it helped set up the character’s darker side, making him credible as the ruthless secret agent, not merely as a womanising man about town.

The 15 minute Terence Young profile beefs up our knowledge on Young’s impressive credentials as a flamboyant and talented high flyer, but the 7 minute black and white doco on Dr No, made in 1963, seems an odd little curio, all scratchy and dated, as if Bond was created in the 1930.

The theatrical trailers promoting Bond double bills are fun, and the gallery – a text and occasional image collection – is ho hum (and hard to find in a less than wonderful navigation system. It looks good, though.)

Then there is the audio commentary (also hard to get to); John Cork is at it again, pummelling us with information at the rate of 60 bits a minute. But I’ve grown to respect and admire the man’s evident passion for his subject. The commentary track is literally crowded with cast and crew. But this is a surprise, since the packaging doesn’t refer to it. Obviously the content was made with much greater care than the packaging.

Dr No is a thriller for everyone, but the extras on this DVD are specialty item for the hungry-minded.
Andrew L. Urban

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DR NO [1962] (PG)

CAST: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell

DIRECTOR: Terence Young

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

DVD Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: July 12, 2000


We gratefully acknowledge the complimentary use of a DVD player from Philips.


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