October 1962 was when the first James Bond film “Dr No” premiered on the big screen making it 57 years old.
The original novel was written by Ian Fleming in 1953, which set in motion a multi-billion film franchise that is still going strong to this day and is arguably bigger than ever.
In the beginning, a series of Bond films were planned because Ian Fleming had written several novels which Casino Royal was the first print. The producers for the film however chosen “Dr No” to be the first film because of its fast-moving plot, it’s exotic locations in Jamaica and its topical theme of space rocket launches.
In the plot, Bond is sent to Jamaica in “Dr No”, which his mission is to investigate the disappearance of a fellow British agent. Tracing leads and teaming up with local allies, he discovers the underground base of Dr No who is an unhinged Chinese-German scientist with metal hands and is plotting to disrupt an American space launch by using a powerful radio beam weapon. Bond needs to defeat Dr No and his henchman in order to save the day.
Along with most Bond films, the plot is different to the book on which it was based. There was no objection from Fleming though because he was well paid for the film rights to his books. “Dr No” became adapted to the big screen by writers’ Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood and Berkley Mather, and it was directed by Terence Young for a budget of less than $1m. The film had been produced by Albert R and Harry Saltzman. “Cubby” Broccoli in a partnership that would last for 13 years.
Originally, the producers wanted Cary Grant to play the role of James Bond during casting, but Grant could only commit to one film and they wanted a star to establish the series. Patrick McGoohan was also considered, who portrayed a spy in the TV series “Danger Man”, and David Niven, was considered later to play Bond in a comedy spoof of “Casino Royal” in 1967.
In the end, the producers had settled up with Sean Connery to play the role, despite some reservations that the Scots actor might be too ‘rough around the edges’. Even though little-known at the time, Connery could commit to five films and the producers felt he could polished enough to appeal to woman but tough enough to intimidate his enemies. It had proven to be a good choice and Connery became a huge hit.
Julie Christie was considered to play the first “Bond girl, along with Honey Ryder, but the role instead went to Ursula Andress who made a stunning and still iconic debut, emerging from the sea wearing a bikini. However, her lines had to be redubbed by voice actress Nikki van de Zyl due to Andress’s heavy Swiss-German accent.
Her singing voice was also dubbed by actress Diana Coupland for the traditional Jamaican calypso “Under the Mango Tree”. Coupland had later found TV fame playing Sid James’s wife in the 1970s sit-come “Bless This House”. She was married to John Barry at the time, who arranged the film’s soundtrack music, which was written by Monty Norman, and would go on to compose the music for 11 Bond films.
“Dr No” had received a mixed response from critics upon its release, some of whom savaged it. Bond was called “a great big hairy marshmallow” and a “blithering bounder”, by Time magazine. The Catholic Church in Rome condemned the film for its “dangerous mixture of violence, vulgarity, sadism and sex”. Fortunately, the audiences loved it and the film was a considerable box office success, eventually grossing to more than $6m.
It was also crucial that “Dr No” were to establish many of the recurring themes which would characterise the Bond Films, including the distinctive opening sequence with Bond seen in silhouette own a barrel of a gun which he shoots his gun towards it, which begins the musical backdrop of Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme”. There are other set-pieces and themes such as Bond’s initial briefing with his boss “M”, the Bond Girls, 007’s signature, Walther PPK and array of spy gadgets devised by “Q”, and his taste for Vodka Martini, “shaken, not stirred”.
SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) was introduced, which would reappear in several later bond films including the 2015 film of the same name. Up to now there has been 24 Bond Films which gross together in excess of $7 billion. A total of six actors have played James Bond, with the latest being Daniel Craig and the series which is one of the most successful in movie history and shows no sign of faltering.
Source: Acorn Stairlifts