Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962, UK)

Dr. No is an excellent first entry into the Bond franchise. Terence Young’s first adaptation of Ian Fleming is simple, straight-forward, and to-the-point - it bears none of the excesses that would come to characterize many later Bond films. The film, like most of the earliest Bond films, is generally faithful to Fleming’s Bond. Outside of the grand finale, most of the events in Dr. No could take place in the world of reality, rather than fantasy. Even the finale, with its introduction of Dr. No, is relatively brief in the context of the rest of the film - perhaps too brief. 
It is easy to look at Dr. No and recognize the Bond formulas, but at the time the formulas were brand new. The “Bond… James Bond” line was uttered for the first time in Dr. No. It was also the first occasion on which we met a James Bond Girl, or saw the infamous gun barrel sequence in the opening credits. Most of the staples of the Bond universe are featured in their incipient stages here - rather than multiple exotic locales, we are treated to one (Jamaica). Still, Jamaica - Fleming’s adopted home country - provides an ideal first setting for Bond. Terence Young and cinematography Ted Moore capture the flavor of the island nation, giving a blend of exoticism and danger.
The main weaknesses of Dr. No are the pacing and the underdevelopment of the Dr. No character, as played by Joseph Wiseman. The film gets a tad long and boring in parts, and would have benefited to leave 15 minutes on the cutting room floor. On the second point, Dr. No is one of the more interesting villains in the Bond canon. It is unfortunate that he gets so little screen time. However, these are minor complaints.


8/10

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