Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


DR. NO (1962). Director: Terence Young.

The film that introduced James Bond 007 to moviegoers is not a classic, but it does hold the attention and establish the filmic counterpart to Ian Fleming's literary creation. The black comedy quips came from the screenwriter, not Fleming, whose Bond was a bit more dimensional than he has ever been in the movies [although Timothy Dalton, and then Daniel Craig, perhaps came closest]. In this Bond is up against the sinister part-Chinese mastermind Dr. No (an excellent Joseph Wiseman), who takes control of missiles on behalf of SPECTRE. In the novel his front was a guano operation, but the filmmakers decided to – if you'll pardon the expression -- drop the s--t and make a few other changes. Gone are the broken nose on Honeychile Ryder (a probably dubbed Ursula Andress, looking luscious), the three-inch scar on Bond's cheek, and the giant squid that nearly makes a meal out of 007 at the end of the novel. Instead of running Dr. No's survival test tunnel as in the book, Bond simply crawls through an access tube to escape. The tarantula that nearly bites Bond when he's in bed is relatively harmless; Fleming used a much more deadly giant centipede instead. Some nice scenery and scenic design helps, but this is nowhere as good as the book. Still, it led to a great many more Bond films, some of which were excellent.

Verdict: Fun if you're in the mood. **1/2.

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