His name is Bond, James Bond. In his explosive film debut,
Ian Fleming's immortal action hero travels to Jamaica to investigate
the assassination of an agent and his secretary. 007 meets
the beautiful Honey Ryder and battles the mysterious Dr. No,
a megalomaniac scientific genius intent on destroying the
American space programme...
fans may be annoyed by the fact that the official Bond movies
are being reissued on DVD - particularly if, like me, you
already replaced your widescreen VHS collection when the previous
batch of DVDs came out in 2000. However, there's plenty here
to tempt 007 aficionados, especially those who have not yet
forked out for all the DVD releases.
For example, the older films have been painstakingly restored
frame by frame. The previous release of Dr. No looked
pretty darned good to me, but technology has improved considerably
over the years, and now it looks even better. Also, for the
first time, all 20 movies now have DTS 5.1 Surround Sound.
These processes are described in a brand-new featurette, Licence
(with the notable exception of Die Another Day), the
special features from the previous releases have been retained
on the new editions. In the case of Dr. No, these include
the two fascinating "making of" documentaries: one covering
the production of the movie, the other dealing with director
Terence Young, who also oversaw From Russia With Love
and Thunderball. Young is revealed to be a veritable
James Bond himself, a debonair gentleman with a taste for
the finer things in life, whose contribution to the series,
in particular smoothing out Sean Connery's rough edges, is
director, together with other members of the cast and crew,
can also be heard on the audio commentary. With the early
films, commentaries are usually spliced together from various
interviews, both old and recent, rather than specially recorded
reminiscences of members of the production team. The former
is the case here, and I happen to prefer this type, as it
can often prove more informative than the latter, being less
dependent on the fading memories or cliquey comments of the
Vintage publicity material has also been dug up and dusted
off (though not cleaned up as the main feature has been).
These goodies include trailers, radio adverts and a crackly
black-and-white American featurette from 1963. Watch out for
the presenter quite obviously reading from an autocue! Newly
discovered archive material, The Guns of James Bond
and Premiere Bond, is also presented on DVD for the
disc 2 was not available for review, the format of the special
features is consistent across the series. The Mission Dossier
section contains the documentaries from the previous DVD release.
Declassified: MI6 Vault presents newly unearthed material.
Ministry of Propaganda is where you will find theatrical
trailers, TV and radio spots, while Image Database
is (yes, you guessed it) the photo gallery.
007 Mission Control is less useful. Billed as an interactive
guide to the world of James Bond, this is in fact essentially
just a selection of themed clips on subjects such as 007,
the Bond girls, allies, villains, action sequences, gadgets
and locations. However, the "007" section usually contains
a text-free version of the opening titles sequence, which
is of some interest.
The series has sexy new menu screens, though the jury is still
out as to the pros and cons of the new collection's consistent
look versus the variety provided by the old series' menus.
so many special features to play with, the movie itself seems
almost incidental. However, the documentaries and commentary
help to rekindle one's interest even if, like me, you've seen
this film umpteen times before.
may appear these days to be comparatively cheap and cheerful
by Bond movie-making standards is put into historical context.
One is reminded that there had never been a movie like this
before, certainly not a British-made one, and it is fascinating
to observe how the production team found ways to stretch their
meagre budget to create a film that appears far more expensive
than it actually was. For instance, the actor who played Strangways
was a resident of Jamaica, cast on location, while the extra
who gunned him down on screen was his dentist!
the famous Bond gadgets do not make an appearance here (apart
from a Geiger counter) and the humour is not as apparent as
in later films, Dr. No is far from humourless. Dark
wit is present in the dialogue ("See that he doesn't get away,"
says Connery, referring to the corpse in his car), in the
larger-than-life sets from production designer Ken Adam, and
even in the fast-cutting style of editor Peter Hunt.
of all, the price is actually cheaper than that of the single-disc
DVD in 2000! So it's still worth saying "yes" to Dr. No.