Saturday, 3 March 2012

What an introduction

Is there a doctor in the house?

Well yes, but he's an evil bastard.

Dr. No is where it all began. Against the author's wishes (Thomas) Sean Connery brings James Bond to the big screen. And bloody lovely it is too.  Looking back you have to remember that people didn't fly around the world on holiday all the time, they pretended they were having fun in labour holiday camps a la Carry on Camping but here we have a movie thrusting the Caribbean and all it's charms down your throat.

Beginning with weird radio type noise before unleashing Monty Norman's epic theme and we're treated to some gloriously Technicoloured ex pats in Jamaica. A quickfire assassination and the action moves to London. Baccarat, smoking, and the now standard introduction of the suavest mutha fucking spy you've ever seen and we're off on our first adventure of the next 50 years.

The first thing to strike you about Dr. No is that it's tense and understated. The storyline builds nicely whilst introducing the key characters. From their first meeting we have a stern and authoritarian M who knows just how to treat his cavalier double 'O' agent.  We understand that Bond is obviously good at his work in an unorthodox way. So how the bloody Hell does he let some bird from the casino break into his flat and faff about with his putter? A bit of how's your father before his flight is just the way to treat a burglar for Bond.

For a spy, Bond doesn't seem to want to blend in all that much. Hat and jacket stay firmly in situ whilst dealing with a dastardly driver and ignoring the bloke from Hawaii 5-0 on the way to Government House.

In a whirl of Brylcreem and Old Spice Bond makes his inquiries on the way to Crab Key. Crab Key, a name that sounds like it was stolen from a Scooby Doo cartoon and an obvious location for an evil genius bent on world domination to have his gaff and not a swig of red Stripe in sight.

Along the way we pick up Quarrell, meet Felix and dispatch a tarantula before one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history. Random Swiss Ursula Andress was chosen, blatantly not for her acting ability. Teenage boys around the world didn't care about her lack of English as they desperately tried to find something to cover their laps as she sported that bikini.

I'll ignore the 'dragon' and it's shabby treatment of Quarrell. It's for the best. Bond is captured and subjected to a non-Psycho shower scene before we finally clap eyes on our villain, the doctor of the title.  What gets you is the fact he's just so normal. OK he's got massive metal hands but he's just an ordinary bloke. No superpowers or piles of weapons, just a fierce intellect, a taste for fine wines and as we discover a plan to take over the world by annoying the Americans.

In the process the evil doctor lays some important ground rules for successive evil geniuses. One of the most important is to ensure henchmen wear a uniform that Bond can fit into should the need arise. How Dr No doesn't notice that Chang has suddenly grown six inches before taking the nuclear controls is beyond me.   It is also important that any henchman not know the location of his nearest fire exit and possess the ability to run around like a headless chicken at the drop of a hat.

Our slightly underutilised Dr No is dispatched in a good old fashioned fist fight whilst being lowered into some nasty nuclear flavoured water. His massive metal hands ultimately being his downfall. Still, that's better than in the book where he died under a pile of birdshit.

The world has been impressively introduced to Bond and can't wait for the next instalment.