MGM/UA Home Entertainement is releasing a beautifully remastered set of all of the James Bond films. This is surely one of the biggest Nlu-ray events of the year. You may order by clicking on any of the links, or in the last paragraph of this column, or by searching Bond 50. This is a must for all classic fans and is highly recommended. Here, we cover the very first James Bond film, "Dr. No."
May 8, 1963, with the release of Dr. No, moviegoers get their first look--down the barrel of a gun--at the super-spy James Bond (codename: 007), the immortal character created by Ian Fleming in his now-famous series of novels and portrayed onscreen by the relatively unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery. Dr. No, produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli for United Artists was the first of the immensely popular adventure novels by the British author, Ian Fleming, to be brought to the screen. Acquisition of motion picture rights to the Fleming novels involved payment against a highly competitive field of what was a record sum of money for Great Britain, and plans were under way for subsequent Fleming features, also through United Artists release. Fleming's enthusiastic army of readers was indicated by the fact that the movie edition of Dr. No surpassed any previous pocket-size first edition reprint in England, with Pan Books issuing a million copies, and would have a "first run" of four million Signet Book copies in the United States.
The central character of Fleming's novels is James Bond, a suave, sophisticated, danger-loving British Secret Service agent, whose close brushes with deadly peril are intermixed with a variety of amatory adventures. Although author Fleming was foreign manager of the famous London Sunday Times, he had devoted most of his time to work on his novels. Many were written in Jamaica, where he spent two months each winter at his North Shore seaside home at Oracabessa, near Ocho Rios. Much of the action of Dr. No was filmed in this locale, with additional sequences made in the vicinity of Kingston, island capital.
Back in 1961 nobody could have foreseen the success James Bond would go on to in the years that followed. At the time, film producer Albert R. Broccoli, who was just recovering from being bankrupt after the box-office failure of his most recent picture The Trails of Oscar Wilde, was on the lookout for an idea for his next project. When asked by his wife what he really wanted to do, he replied "I have always wanted to film the James Bond books", but unfortunately the rights to the novels had already been acquired by Harry Saltzman. After holding a meeting with Saltzman, together they formed a partnership that spawned the production companies EON Productions Ltd. and Danjaq S.A. and with the financial assistance of United Artists work began on the first James Bond film.
As Casino Royale, the first Fleming novel had already been filmed as a television play for the US series Climax! in 1954, the first official film would be an adaptation of the sixth book in the series, Dr. No. To direct the film Broccoli called upon director Terence Young, a director with whom he had already made action adventure films including Zarak and Safari. He would go on to direct a total of three Bond films and was mainly responsible in the creation of the character's screen persona. With a crew and modest budget of $1million in place the search began to find a star to fill the lead role.
Initially Broccoli offered the role to the best man from his wedding, Cary Grant. However he was conscious that Grant would see it as a one film deal and not be interested in playing the role after Dr. No whereas Broccoli and Saltzman always viewed the film as the beginning of a series. After a screening of the Walt Disney's Darby O' Gill And The Little People, Broccoli was so impressed by Sean Connery that he knew he had found his Bond. Connery brought a confidence to the role. He was the perfect choice to convey that the character was equally capable of using his brains and his brawn drawing inspiration from Fleming's own charm and reputation as a womanizer. Connery was officially confirmed in the role on 3rd November 1961 exactly 50 years to the day before the Skyfall press conference and so began Bond's journey to the big screen.
Dr. No is the only James Bond film to not have the signature pre-credits animated/effects sequence that became one of the defining features of the series. The film does however open with Maurice Binder's now famous gun barrel sequence which for the first three films features stuntman Bob Simmons dressed as Bond turning to shoot down the barrel. The opening titles of the film also feature more of Binder's work with an animated polka dot sequence leading to psychedelic silhouettes of people dancing pre-empting the style and look of future Bond title sequences.
A very rare look at the original canvas for the design of the opening credit, with the finished version below.
Sean Connery, then a young rugged, Scottish-born actor who had been making rapid strides forward during the previous year, was picked for the role of Bond (Secret Service agent 007). With selection of Terence Young, a specialist in location pictures, to direct a script prepared by Richard Maibaum, Wolf Mankewitz and J. M. Harwood, the first expedition to the Caribbean to select specific locales was in order. The producers, the director, production manager L. C. Rudkin and art director Ken Adam surveyed all possible sites on the island of Jamaica in the fall of 1961 and made a detailed blueprint of "shooting time."
On the set.
On January 14th, 1962, a chartered plane carrying 52 players and members of the technical crew of Dr. No flew by chartered BOAC plane from London to Kingston, carrying four tons of lighting, sound, camera and electrical equipment to be used in the film. Setting up headquarters at the Courtleigh Manor Hotel in Kingston, they moved into the active, "camera alert" phase operation on the project two days later.
On the set Ursula Andress and John Derek
In addition to Sean Connery in the role that would introduce millions of screen fans throughout the world to the cinema incarnation of James Bond, the leading players of Dr. No included Ursula Andress, provocative, shapely blonde actress making her debut in a feature; Joseph Wiseman, as the brilliantly malevolent foe of Bond in the story, playing the "title role"; Jack Lord, popular young American screen and stage star at the time, in the part of an American CIA agent, Felix Leiter; John Kitzmiller, American actor who resided in Rome, as Quarrel, Jamaican native who becomes an invaluable aide of Bond in his dangerous exploits; Anthony Dawson, well-known British actor as Dent, a research scientist who engages in a game of duplicity; and Zena Marshall, a striking British brunette playing Bond's secretary.
Rare production shots.
Dr. No was filmed in Technicolor, utilizing the full lush and exciting tropical Caribbean backgrounds. The story of Dr. No, in brief, concerns an emergency summons for Bond to rush from London to Jamaica to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a trusted British Secret Service representative and his secretary. When a trail of murder leads to a mysterious island hideaway Bond and the (always) beautiful woman whom he is protecting, Honey, discover that they are pitted against the diabolically inventive mind of a ruthless foe, who has no compunction against using the worst types of torture, or sacrificing any number of lives to prevent interference with his fantastic schemes.
Ian Fleming was born on May 8th, 1908. He was the grandson of the Scottish banking pioneer, Robert Fleming. Ian had three brothers named Peter, Richard, and Michael. He hated his brother Peter during their early years, due to his brother being very successful in academics and attaining his fathers attention. Fist fights usually broke out between the two. He loved his mother, but was always rebelling against her, he didn't like the thought of her controlling his life. Ian's father did seem more like a teacher than a father him. He always encouraged Ian to take part in sport. Since his father and brother were successful, Ian felt a desire to become successful himself.
Ian Flemming at his famous typewriter.
He attended Eton High School and joined the track team and became a top athlete . But, his stay at Eton was short due to trouble he was in that involved women and a motor vehicle accident. Fleming stole his father's vehicle and went to parties where he drank and met women with whom he later invited to ride with him. One of the women distracted Fleming and he ran into a tree. During the expulsion of high school, Ian's father died in World War 1 during a battle in France on Sunday 20 May 1917 (All the inherited money went to Ian's mother.) With the stipulation that she would remarry, Ian was pressured into getting money of his own. The widowed mother put him in another school. It was there that he started to date and acquire an expensive taste of food and automobiles. People who went to Tennerhof with Ian remembered him as being very arrogant and hard to get along with. There were others that said he was found to be charming, handsome, witty, and lively. But, Ian was having problems with classes. Ian's mother knew a married couple that could help Ian. So he would visit them once a week for tutoring. Ian graduated and still desired to be more successful than his brother and father.
First published edition of Dr. No.
Ian enrolled in the Sandhurst Royal Academy. He did much better in his studies since there were no women around the college and he cut down on his partying. He took the final military exams and scored very poorly. He was in danger of not graduating but there was an essay section of the test that enabled him to take a job as a reporter for the British Navy. He outsmarted the older, much more experienced by getting the information to the press much faster than any other reporter. Officials were impressed with his work and promoted him to lieutenant on the Royal Navy. He was stationed on the HMS Repulse. His main job: to plan operations and attacks. He wasn't comfortable. Ian wrote poetry about his father's death during his service on the ship. He didn't show the poetry to anyone. During a mission Ian planned out himself, a crew member had committed mutiny and was later found to be a spy for the Germans. Ian found himself in hand to hand combat with him and took him into custody. He even interrogated the man himself.
Ian Flemming with Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli.
He bought a beach house in Jamaica on a comfortable lot near the beach so that he could reside there once his naval term was up. He called the house "Goldeneye' because of the wonderful view every room in the house had. Ian lived there two months a year until his naval term was over and he could live there permanently. The working conditions for writing were perfect. He wrote more poetry but not all of it was about his dead father. To Ian, Goldeneye was such a wonderful place that he saw it a crime to take up all the beauty. He let people stay at Goldeneye for a small fee, which is how he met his women. Fleming would go partying with one to three girls a night. He would buy his beloved rich food, drive his classic automobiles, and especially seduce his women until he met Ann Charteris. They met when a girl did not up on one of Ian's dates and Ann kept him company. It wasn't long until Ian married Ann at Goldeneye in 1952. It was said that the marriage had devolved since the ceremony.
Publicity still from United Artists of Sean Connery and Ursala Andress. This particular still was issued before the film's release to promote the movie.
Fleming had the idea to write a novel about a British spy. He never wrote anything until his wife, Ann, encouraged him to write his first novel. Before he was able to do that, Ian had to figure out the specifics of his main character. He first thought that his character would have a code number. He remembered a number that he learned during his naval service. The number was the German diplomatic code used to send zimmerman telegraph Berlin to Washington, which was 007. The next trick was the name. At Goldeneye, Ian worked this problem out with two friends: Harry Bond and James Atkins. They poured over names until Ian stopped and took his two friends names and switched them to "Harry Atkins" and "James Bond". Ian chose the James Bond. His friends did not seem to mind the use of their names. Ian found that there was a famous ornithologist named "James Bond". He contacted the man and invited him over to stay at Goldeneye to discuss the character. The ornithologist loved the idea and gave him consent to use his name. Ian wrote his novel in a very fast fashion. He wrote his main character to be 6' tall, muscular and athletic, in his mid-thirties, with gray-blue eyes. John Pearson has dated the birth of James Bond as January 15, 1952. He added:
Movie Classics magazine cover.
"Casino Royal' was written and finished in Goldeneye on March 18th, writing a 62,000 word manuscript in eight weeks would have been an achievement. But, there is evidence that he might have completed it in a shorter amount of time." Ian Fleming had doubts that Casino Royale would succeed but it did and so he continued on to write other bond books. When "Dr. No" was published, Movie producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Salzman were where interested in making the book into a movie. They approached Ian with a proposition to make "Dr. No" into a movie. If the movie did well they would produce other "Bond" movies.
Japanese movie program pages.
During the negotiations and production of Dr. No Ian completed Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only and "The Spy Who Loved Me". The movie, "Dr. No" was a huge hit and Ian had the feeling that he finally reached the success that he hoped to achieve over his father and brother. Other movies were made while Ian Fleming continued to write. That is until 1964 when Ian Fleming died of a fatal heart attack while at Royal St. Georges Golf Club. Ian Fleming was a man of many visions, and talents. It wasn't until after his death that James Bond was a British, sexual, and heroic icon. A total of 20 "Bond Films" have been made so far. Even more James Bond books have been written. Ian Fleming will live on with infamy and legend.
Cast publicity still, Bond and "the girls."
Writing at breakneck pace on his eleventh novel while his first-to-reach-the-screen, "Dr. No," filmed near his Jamaican winter home, Ian Fleming met the exasperating fate common to writers— a torn typewriter ribbon in the midst of a creative binge. He couldn't find one anywhere. Suddenly a recollection hit Fleming. "There's one man nearby," he said, "who once told me he always keeps a stock on hand." He tried a phone number which was out of order. Then he scribbled a name and address on a card. An hour later the housekeeper came back bearing an envelope containing three new typewriter ribbons and a note reading: "May your muse move forward. Best—Noel Coward." One of the most ardent admirers of Ian Fleming's mystery stories was none other than President John F. Kennedy himself. When the latter met the former accidentally in Washington and the president heard the author's name, he asked "Not the Ian Fleming?"
Sean Connery as Bond #1
He was compared to Brando and some persons who had seen him in a special kind of spark and spontaneity reminiscent of the earlier Cary Grant. So if Sean Connery could remind separate viewers of two such diametrically contrasted screen colleagues, the future would be a a rosy one. The rugged, athletic, six-foot-two newcomer is a strange combination of candid simplicity and dynamic self-confidence. He doesn't like people who talk about themselves all the time but he also feels that false modesty can be a terrible bore. "I was lucky," he says in discussing the coveted role of James Bond when he was first cast, as Ian Fleming's famous Secret Service Agent "007." "I never dreamed I could hold down a job in the chorus line of a musical when I was driving a milk truck in Edinburgh. But this happened to be the one door opening to my ambitions when I went to London, and out of it I managed to land some TV spots. Then I played in a couple of movies I didn't like because I had to keep myself going. About two years ago I made a decision that no matter what happened 1 wouldn't take another acting part.
Sean Connery publicity still.
Connery had acted in repertory theater and television and scored some bit parts in films before landing his first significant role, opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place (1958). Bigger roles followed, notably in Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959). Harold Saltzman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, the producers of Dr. No, had other actors in mind to play Bond, including Cary Grant and James Mason; Fleming himself preferred another leading candidate, David Niven. After winning the role, however, Connery swiftly made it his own.
The character of Dr. No is a great introduction to type of "bad guy" Bond will deal with throughout his career. His presence is felt throughout and he is the epitome of the Bond villain. Brought to life by Canadian actor Joseph Wiseman, Dr. Julius No is more than a match for Bond, he's quick witted and intelligent and charming. His quick assessment of Bond as "just another stupid policeman" is as appropriate as Bond's comments on Dr. No's plans for World domination. Dr. No's disability, metal hands following an unfortunate incident with radio active chemicals, begins a common trend with Bond villains and henchmen. To complete the look of the character, Wiseman was made to wear make-up applications to invoke Dr. No's Chinese heritage.
Publicity still Joseph Wiseman
Wiseman won the role as the first Bond villain beating off some much competition. Ian Fleming asked Noel Coward if he would be interested in the role only to have him reply that simply read "Dr. No? No! No! No!" Max Von Sydow was offered the role but turned it down and Fleming's cousin Christopher Lee was also offered the part. Both Sydow and Lee would still go on to play Bond Villains in Never Say Never Again and The Man With The Golden Gun. Harry Saltzman eventually settled on Wiseman after seeing him in the 1951 film "Detective Story" with Kirk Douglas.
The character would go on to inspire not just the Bond villains that followed but the villains in films such as the Fu Manchu movies, Carry On Spying and the Austin Powers series of films. Sylvia Trench played by Eunice Gayson is the first of the beauties to fall for Bond's charms. Playing cards in a casino with Bond, Trench introduces herself to Bond in an introduction which leads to one of the most famous written lines in cinema history; "Bond, James Bond". Gayson won the role after Lois Maxwell turned down the role in favor of playing the recurring character of M's secretary Miss Moneypenny. The role of Trench was also to be a recurring character as Bond's casual girlfriend running for at least six films however the role only lasted for one more film.
Publicity still Eunice Gayson
For the role of Honey Rider, the leading lady of the film, Broccoli and Saltzman were looking for a voluptuous actress who could also convince as a Jamaican native. Two weeks before filming was due to begin Broccoli spotted a photograph of Swiss actress Ursula Andress among a huge pile of pictures of budding actresses and knew he had found what he was looking for. In the now iconic scene where we are first introduced to the character of Honey Rider as she emerges from the sea wearing a white bikini Andress smoulders and sets the benchmark on which all future Bond girls will be judged. Rider is the quintessential Bond girl, beautiful and desirable yet strong willed and independent. She also remains the only Bond girl to make Bond spontaneously burst into song.
Ursula Andress with Ian Flemming on the set.
Italian mini-posters .
Monty Norman was born Monty Noserovitch in Stepney in the East End of London, and was an only child of Jewish parents, Annie and Abraham Noserovitch in 1928. When Norman's father was young, he traveled from Latvia to England with his mother. As a child during World War II, he was evacuated from London but later returned during the Blitz and as a young man he did national service in the RAF, where he became interested in a career in singing. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Norman was a singer for big bands such as those of Cyril Stapleton, Stanley Black, Ted Heath, and Nat Temple. He also sang in various variety shows, sharing top billing with other singers and comedy stars such as Benny Hill, Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Harry Worth, Tommy Cooper, Jimmy James, Tony Hancock, Jimmy Edwards, and Max Miller. One of his songs, "False Hearted Lover", was successful internationally.
From 1958 to 1960 Monty Norman had five successful stage musicals in a row - three of which were subsequently made into films. Irma La Douce ran five and a half years in the West End and eighteen months on Broadway - receiving a Tony Award nomination for 'Best Musical'; Expresso Bongo (Time Out called it 'the first Rock 'n Roll musical') ran a year in the West End; Make Me An Offer won the Evening Standard Award for 'Best Musical' and ran a year in the West End; The Art of Living (based on Art Buchwald's humorous columns in the International Herald Tribune) ran a year in the West End. For Dr. No, the tune was arranged by John Barry who would later go on to compose the soundtracks for 11 Bond films. Courts had ruled twice that the theme was written by Norman despite testimony by Barry that he had actually written the theme. Norman won two libel actions against publishers for claiming that Barry wrote the theme. It is, however, acknowledged that Barry came up with the arrangement used in Dr. No.The tune was actually based on a previous composition by Norman called Good Sign, Bad Sign taken from an aborted musical The House Of Mr. Biswas.
Although the Harry Saltzman-Cubby Broccoli production falls technically into the category of a "thriller," its musical potentialities are of an exceptional nature. Monty Norman, young and versatile British composer of the internationally popular songs for "Expresso Bongo" and "Irma La Douce," was commissioned by the producers to use carte blanche in turning out a musical score that would be different. They agreed that the best way to achieve this goal would be to spend as much time as possible in Jamaica with the production unit. Norman arrived there when shooting first started, and, hiding himself away in a small room with a piano, spent his days tinkering with melodic ideas and his nights exploring the vivid and varied nocturnal activities of Kingston. He was especially enthusiastic about a newly developing local dance, the Jump-Up. In less than three weeks he had given the producers three completed melodies, "Jump Up, Jamaica," "The James Bond Theme," and "Underneath the Mango Tree," and had roughed out two additional numbers. The James Bond Theme would become so popular that one could identify it by hearing just a few notes. "Dr. No," the producers felt, was "a thriller with a difference"—the difference being young Norman.
No place in the world offered a greater opportunity for women seeking their own privately designed dresses than the island of Jamaica, according to Ursula Andress, Swiss-born film star who spent many weeks there during the making of the film. The reason for this special privilege, Miss Andress explained, is that a particular craft which has disappeared from most parts of the world still remained an integral part of the framework of life in the small Caribbean island. This was the institution of the "little dressmaker." She was carrying on a tradition of individualistic dressmaking from several generations back, and displayed great pride of workmanship.
On set photos.
Frequently this dressmaker had studied at a designing school in London, New York or Paris, coming home afterwards to set up her own business or to reinvigorate an already existing family modest shop with fresh creative ideas. From the customer's standpoint she provided a specialized service which was hard to duplicate in the field of custom dressmaking, and her prices were lower than almost any other country. "I had a small tropical type dress made for me," said Miss Andress "I paid $2.14 for the material. Then the dressmaker charged me $1.96 for the work. "So the whole thing cost $4.10. I could not have bought the same dress ready made in any store in London or New York for less than ten to twelve dollars. I also bought a beautiful silk kimono for six dollars and a half which I couldn't have bought under thirty-five dollars in Europe or America.
On the set, Connery and Andress
"Many friends of mine—like the wardrobe girl and the hairdresser in our company—also had new dresses made in Jamaica and they were delighted with them. "Jamaican dressmakers almost seem to read your mind. You describe what you want and the next minute it's being sketched out on a piece of paper. It's wonderful how your idea comes to life. No pattern is needed, and the whole thing is finished in two days." In "Dr. No," the handsomely contoured Swiss-born film star had little to worry about in the way of recreational costumes, since the script called for her to appear chiefly in bikinis of minimum dimensions, and a loose fitting rose-pink kimono. The fact that she was not obliged to spend much time in being fitted for costumes provided a lucky break, in that it gave her a chance to go out on several shopping sprees for items augmenting her wardrobe at home.
Original lobby cards
"I will always remember the Jamaican 'little dressmaker'," said Miss Andress, "I have never got so much value for my money before, and I probably won't again." As for stoppin g her own work for the film, she said, "Well, I lost a couple of very good paying ones. My friends, most of them, said I was stupid. But some other good parts came along and then Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli approached me about 'Dr. No.' This was like asking a boy that was crazy about racing cars if he'd mind having a present of the latest sports Jaguar. I had always been enthusiastic about Ian Fleming's James Bond stories. He's the British agent, you know, who has to work himself out of some of the weirdest situations any writer ever dreamed up. I had never actually visualized myself playing Bond when I heard the rights to the books had been sold for a record amount, but when the chance came along I hardly slept for days."
Rare concept poster, unused.
Dr. No was grossed $59 million worldwide (to date) around the world. Its U.S. Gross was $16 million, making a hefty profit for United Artists. The film was released in London first on its premiere date of October 5, 1962. It opened in other countries such as France and Italy before opening in the U.S. On May 8, 1963. It was filmed in 35mm Technicolor, shown in Europe at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and in the United States 1.85:1. It opened to excellent reviews boosting the boxoffice, but was not nominated for any Academy Awards. Ursala Andress did receive a Golden Glove for Most Promising Newcomer.
Double Feature reissue poster.
Dr. No is the film that started a series that remains very popular today. Generations have been able to relate to the Bond movies as new films have been released during each new generation's teen years, and as the films became newer, more special effects were added. This is the one that started them all. MGM/UA in collaboration with 20th Century Fox Home Video is releasing a boxed set of all the James Bond movies, all of which have been remastered (and several of the earliest restored), a set that will surely be a best-seller. Stay tuned to The Silver Screen for several more upcoming Bond columns. You may order the box set HERE.
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