Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dr. No

1962, UK, directed by Terence Young

The first Bond movie, despite its exotic trappings, is one of the most restrained in scale: almost all of the action takes place in relatively tiny Jamaica (or on Pinewood sets), rather than the near constant jet-setting that often proved confusing in later movies. While the overall template is already firmly in place - Bond takes on a sinister megalomaniac intent on world domination - many of the flourishes that would later prove so critical to the franchise (Desmond Llewellyn's turns as Q, for instance) have not yet been grafted on.

While the supporting structure is thus not quite as comfortingly familiar, Sean Connery, as Bond, appears to have been born fully formed into the part: from the first moment he appears onscreen, he exudes a charm and assurance that transcends the often rickety plot and the archly incredible villain. Though Ian Fleming's first Bond book had appeared almost a decade previously, Bond seems a perfect 60's hero: he embodies the attractions of the golden age of jet travel, apparently possessed of infinite resources and resourcefulness, and engages in casual sex and even more casual violence in a manner that seems to typify that decade, throwing off the comfortable but dreadfully unexciting 50's with glee. The first 'Bond, James Bond' and the familiar Bond theme remain as stirring as ever, while Ursula Andress's emergence from the sea is one of the franchise's most iconic and enjoyable moments.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States