Sunday, 30 January 2011

The successful criminal brain is always superior. It has to be!

Dr. No (1962)
Chosen by Blogalongabond which has lots to say about the movie.

We interrupt the normal proceedings (filmaday film 31 'The Mechanic' will be here tomorrow on schedule) to take part in the splendid communal blogging celebration of the fact a new James Bond film is coming up in Nov 2012. 22 months away. And with 22 official Bond films (not being asked to re-watch Never Say Never Again is probably for the best) it seemed serendipitous to review one a month. An idea spawned by the wonderful The Incredible Suit and picked up on by some terrific blogs like the one from Total Film writer and Derby QUAD regular Simon Kinnear.

There's already been some great examinations of Dr. No from the Blogalongabond bunch that I feel I have nothing much to contribute and am also very, very lazy.
So my entries will be short bullet pointed affairs, I dare say, looking at facets of the Bond films i am interested in.

So, onto Dr. No.

Bond's Intro: A full blown classic, first showing his hands, hearing his voice before finally revealing that cocksure face. Oh and does the whole 'Bond, James Bond; thing come about because that's the format Sylvia Trench introduces herself and he is mimicking her?

Theme Song and Credits: No real song here of course but the James Bond theme itself (and then some calypso three blind mice or something or other - who remembers that bit anyway?) which the movie goes on to use. A lot. Really. So much, even for scenes of Bond just walking across a corridor. Yeah.
The title sequence is pretty cool, very sixties and we have the female silhouettes from the start (though granted they are clearly clothed at the moment).

The Ladies: I love Sylvia Trench (can we not get an updated version for the new film?), stunningly beautiful and with a quiet confidence that is very attractive. More controversially perhaps I really don't like Honey Ryder. A fairly weak performance and a character who acts more like a girl than a woman (which to me makes Bond's advances on her really creepy) and has no real role in the film at all. Miss Taro also has little to do but be a rubbish spy (seriously, caught listening at the keyhole?) so is barely worth mentioning but he does fuck her I suppose, so here she is on the list. Moneypenny, like Sylvia Trench, exudes a sexy confidence with Bond that stops their scene feeling like a lecherous old pervert lusting after the boss' secretary and more the friendly playfulness of people who have known each other for years.

The Baddies: An area where Dr. No really falls down. I love Joseph Wiseman's performance here (the 'stupid policeman' line is great) but he is brought in too late to little effect. All we have left are a collection of thugs and idiots.

License to Kill: It's 42 minutes before we see Bond make his first kill and it's with a shoe. On a spider. With extreme prejudice. Then some goons in a car are killed but Bond really had nothing to do with that (their own idiocy and precariously volatile car took care of that). So Bond's real first kill is almost an hour into the film but it is a doozy. 'You've had your six' he says. 'Phut, phut' goes his silenced pistol. Umm but didn't Bond just ask him a question and had him covered and disarmed? Yeah Bond doesn't care, he's not much of a spy anyway - who needs to be told stuff when you can wander around a beach for ages. We then get a couple of guards killed before the fight with Dr. No. Once again Bond doesn't have anything to do with actually killing him particularly. Bond climbs up a metal frame. The Doctor can't. He really should have invested in rubber tips on those metal hands. Still when the base blows up (all these tropes right there from the start) some of the goons Bond knocked out whilst escaping must die in the blast so I guess he gets a few more kills in there.

Bond hates foreigners: his treatment of Quarrel is fairly reprehensible. 'Cover the boat', 'Fetch my shoes' 'go kill that dragon' and he thinks No must be working for the East because he shares their 'disregard for human life'.

Bond hates women: his attitude towards Miss Taro is a bit harsh, he has sex with her to pretty much pass the time before she gets arrested. But, well, she did try to kill him so...

Bond's crazy knowledge: yes M, he does know what Toppling is.

Bond's a big fat snob: on being offered some Dom Perignon '55 - 'I prefer the '53 myself'

00's killed: In fact casualties in the section are down 40%. That won't last.

Mini overview: A remarkably confidant film, sexy and interesting despite not much happening at all really (that it works at all is partly down to Connery's brilliant performance). The franchise may have solidified with Goldfinger but so much of it was right here.

Oh and I got through all this without mentioning Eunice Gayson's amazing, constantly arched right eyebrow (she was awesome, I shall try not to keep going on about her in next month's From Russia With Love entry)

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