The 007 Project: Dr. No

Hello everyone! I’ve learned over the past few years that what really helps me keep things going around here is having a watch project. Whether it’s recapping a show as it comes out, or doing a series of movies.

I really enjoyed watching all of those Disney movies, but rather than continue in that vein, I decided to go for something completely different. And that something completely different is watching all of the James Bond movies. In a row. In order. Open minded about who is best. (Though, you know, Connery.)

So, we’re watching The Bonds. We’re starting right here, at the beginning with Dr. No.

I don’t think I’ve watched these early Sean Connery movies since I was much younger and a very different sort of movie watcher. Here was my first thought, in writing this up:

It is amazing how Dr. No manages to set up everything we now expect a Bond movie to do, and still be incredibly grounded as a spy thriller. The large campy set pieces aren’t really there, with the exception of Dr. No’s lair, everything seems pretty real world. And yet, there’s still, well, everything we need to know about James Bond. He has sex with two different ladies, before meeting Honey Ryder, he drinks his martinis, he has his car shipped to Jamaica from England, he meets with M, flirts with Moneypenny, wears the tux, it’s all there.

Who’s Our Bond?

There’s also just, Sean Connery. My God, when he first appeared, I melted into the sofa. That is a sexy man, my friends, and I don’t mind saying it. When the camera focuses in on him at the card table at Le Club de Cercle, I actually took a deep breath and then exhaled. He is attractive. He’s also funny, and charismatic, and delightfully self aware in the role. He made the mold, and no one has really matched him.

What’s The Plot This Time?

A British spy in Jamaica has gone missing, and 007, James Bond, has been sent to find out what happened to the poor fellow. As it turns out, he was onto a mysterious Chinese scientist by the name of Dr. No, who is experimenting with atomic power, while under the banner of the mysterious SPECTRE. Bond thwarts him, HOORAY!

I’m Adressing The Problematic

Look, we’re doing Bond. There is sexism, there is racism, there is glorification of the waning British Empire throughout this series. Dr. No has got all of that. The women, all four of them, are completely disposable. The characters of color are stereotypical and silly. Dr. No is supposed to be half Chinese, but is played by the white, Julian Wiseman (who’s great, but you know, YIKES).

Tell Me About The Girl

Honey Ryder is played by Ursula Andress and she is very beautiful. She doesn’t appear until the last half hour of the movie but she has an iconic entrance in her gorgeous white bikini with a belt and it is completely and utterly fabulous. This bikini rules so much that last week it sold at auction for $500,000. I’m talking about the bikini and not the character because Honey is not really a character, she just kind of shows up and is around for about five scenes and then Bond kisses her on a boat and the movie ends.

It sucks.

Joe’s Bond Car Corner

Part of the fun of this series is that my brother-in-law loves the Bond movies, and love cars, so he agreed to do a quick write up of James Bond’s car in each movie. Hooray! Here’s what Joe has to say about The Sunbeam II, which I noted to him, I observed was blue!

  • You’re right – it was a 1962 Sunbeam Alpine Series II in Lake Blue 
  • Being the first Bond film, they did not have the money nor the endorsements from large car manufacturers (Aston Martin), this car was actually borrowed from a local Jamaican resident since it was one of the only viable sports cars they could find on the island.
  • The Sunbeam name dates back to 1888 when it was registered by John Marsten, a bicycle manufacturer.  They began manufacturing cars in 1901. 
  • Sunbeam was a prestigious name due to their engine manufacturing.  They produced aero engines for planes in WWI, then focused on Grand Prix Racing and land speed records post war
  • Engine for the 1962 Alpine Series II: 80 horsepower, 97 MPH top speed.  Not so sporty for Bond compared to a 1962 Corvette, 150 horsepower, 108MPH top speed. 
  • Bond’s Alpine included optional upgrades such as wire spoke wheels and white wall tires (SO necessary for the early 60’s look)
  • The Alpine is named after the Alpine Rally (Coupe des Alpes) which was one of the most prestigious races in the world during the 50s.
  • Base price was about $2,500.  Mint condition these days they go for $10,000 tops.
  • About 19,000 Sunbeam Alpine Series II were made.  Not many around these days, if they are they are in bad shape and you can get them for around $3,000 as a project car.  
  • The Apline I was not very successful, so Sunbeam put a bigger engine in it, and made the car a bit bigger to attract the American Market.  It was considered moderately successful.
  • If Bond had waited 2 more years for the Alpine to be upgraded to the Sunbeam Tiger, he could’ve been riding around with a Ford V8 (twice as powerful) that was designed by the legend Carol Shelby. (A Note From Reenie: I know who Carol Shelby is because Matt Damon plays him in the very good movie Ford VS Ferrari)

Overall Thoughts

Not going to lie you guys, I got worried watching this movie. “Is this going to be harder than I thought? Watching all these movies?” It’s not a super fun watch. While Dr. No shines in moments, as a film it’s slow and meandering and a little more self serious than I expected, I didn’t actually like it much.

Next week we press on to From Russia With Love. And SPOILER! I like it a whole lot more.

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