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Terrence Young
Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson, Zena Marshall
Richard Maibaum & Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, based on the novel by Ian Fleming

His name is Bond; James Bond.

Dr. No is the film that started it all, the first installment of a phenomenon that's still going strong. Sean Connery puts in his first appearance as James Bond in a spy thriller that relies a lot less on gadgets and more on ingenuity than many of the 007 films that follow. The plot follows Bond as he's called to the Caribbean to find a fellow spy who has disappeared. After several attempts on his life, he teams up with an American agent and travels to a remote island, where he meets the mysterious Dr. No.
Rated PG.

Widescreen 1.66:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English Monaural
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Mandarin Chinese

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $89.99
Release Date: 12/12/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Terence Young, Editor Peter Hunt, Composer Monty Norman, Actors Lois Maxwell, Ursula Andress, Eunice Gayson, Marguerite Lewars, Zena Marshall and Timothy Moxon, Sound Effects Editor Norman Wanstall, Special Effects Supervisor John Stears, Art Director Syd Cain, Production Buyer Ron Quelch, Eon Productions Former VP Marketing Jerry Juroe, Production Designer Ken Adam, Former UA Executive David Picker, Associate Producer Stanley Sopel, Location Manager Chris Blackwell, Photographer Bunny Yeager, Stuntmen Richard Graydon, Bert Luxford and George Leech, and Producer's Wife Dana Broccoli
• “007: Licence to Restore” Featurette
• “The Guns of James Bond” Featurette
• “Premiere Bond: Opening Nights” Featurette
• 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide
• "Inside Dr. No" Documentary
• "Terence Young: Bond Vivant" Documentary
• Still Galleries
• TV Ads
• Radio Spots
• Booklet
• Trailers

Available Only as Part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume Four”


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Dr. No: Ultimate Edition (1962)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 11, 2006)

Something I'd love to know: did anyone associated with Dr. No back in 1962 have the slightest idea they'd still be making Bond films in the 21st century? Did any of those people even think there was much chance folks in this day and age would remember their film, much less revere it as the first in the longest-running movie series of all-time?

I don't presume to speak for these people, but I seriously doubt anyone had the foresight to anticipate the longevity of the Bond franchise. Look at it this way: if we reverse the 44 years between the first Bond and the latest – 2006’s Casino Royale - we end up back in 1918, before color movies or those with sound. That's a wide space in film history, and while the pictures of today more closely resemble those of 1962 than the latter correspond to the movies of 1918, the breadth of that span remains remarkable. Hey, some of us weren't even born yet in 1962! (You know you're getting old when you use the age of the Bond series to try to make yourself feel young. Beats my Dad, at least; he has to claim he was born before Sinatra became a star to get his jollies.)

At this juncture in history, Dr. No would earn a place in film lore just due to the fact it was the first Bond; the quality of the picture has become absolutely irrelevant. Happily, however, the movie remains a taut and exciting Bond adventure. While it lacks the extravagant spark of some of the later entries, it does enough right to continue to entertain viewers.

One rather startling aspect of Dr. No comes from how many of the "Bond staples" all seem well in place. Nuances like Sean Connery's bemused facial gestures, his gently antagonistic relationship with boss "M" (Bernard Lee) and his flirtatious repartee with secretary Moneypenny all appear here. The naturalism of the interactions seems remarkable considering the newness of the series. I noticed the same thing when I watched early episodes of Star Trek; the key members of that crew appeared to mesh and gel almost effortlessly. I guess when the sparks fly, they make everything look easier, and the chemistry among the group we see in Dr. No gives one the impression this is their fifth outing, not their first.

Even back then, it was clear Connery was the man as Bond. It's tough to watch the movie and filter out all that's come since that time, but I think his dominating and spry presence seems clear, and he pretty much had the part down cold right out of the box. I've enjoyed the work of some later Bonds - especially Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig sure seems to have the goods - but it seems likely no one will ever compare to Connery. I grew up as a Roger Moore fan, since he was the first Bond I knew from my own theatrical experience - I never saw a Bond picture on the big screen until Moonraker in 1979 - but I long ago recognized the supremacy of Connery. He remains absolutely perfect for the role.

Dr. No isn't a perfect film, and its pace can seem a bit slow compared to later Bonds, but it still offers enough fun to be worth viewing for reasons other than nostalgia or curiosity. The story is prototypical Bond, with then-exotic locations and a brilliant and unusual madman who creates a bizarre plot to wreak havoc. Dr. No himself (Joseph Wiseman) makes for a great villain. He appears in little of the film - we don't even see him until late in the story - but this is not the handicap it could have been. The plot offers enough suspense and mystery that we don't really feel the absence of a strong protagonist. It also helps that No is such a strong villain; when we finally meet him, he's worth the wait, and Wiseman plays him wonderfully. He makes No appropriately mysterious and threatening but refrains from the usual movie-villain histrionics.

Ursula Andress forever set the standard for the "Bond girl" with her appearance as Honey Ryder, a beach-combing babe Bond discovers late in the film. She's not the first woman to experience Bond's lust in the movie – he actually bags two other women prior to her - but she's the only one that clearly matches our current ideas of the "Bond girl". To be frank, I never thought much of Andress; many subsequent Bond actresses have been much more beautiful, and most are better actresses as well. However, it's likely that none made such a strong impact. For better or for worse, Andress set the tone for all Bond actresses to follow.

Although Dr. No fits in well with the rest of the series, some components we'd get to know and love don't appear. There's no fascination with wild gadgets, and as such, there's no "Q". Actually, "Q" does make a semi-appearance in the form of Major Boothroyd, the equipment officer who would mutate into "Q" by the third Bond, Goldfinger. However, Boothroyd has little to do here - he just gives Bond a new gun - and he's not played by long-time "Q" Desmond Llewelyn; Peter Burton takes the role here. Llewelyn would perform as Boothroyd in the sequel, From Russia With Love and would finally receive his single-initial moniker in Goldfinger.

Other than that, the cast and basic stage are set in Dr. No, and the formula was created for a terrific series of action movies. Not all Bonds have been great, but I've yet to see one I'd call bad; even the worst are still fun on some levels. Dr. No doesn't remotely approach the bottom of the Bond barrel; even after more than 40 years, it remains an exciting and well-made piece of work.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Dr. No appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This transfer made the 44-year-old flick look awfully good.

My only minor concerns related to sharpness. While most of the movie seemed crisp and distinctive, a few wide shots displayed a smidgen of softness. These instances stayed minor, though, and caused no real distractions. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent, and only light edge haloes ever appeared. Source flaws amounted to nothing, as the movie looked wonderfully clean.

Colors also excelled. With its vibrant Jamaican setting, the film boasted a broad palette, and the DVD made those hues shine. The tones always seemed lively and dynamic. Blacks were deep and taut, while most shadows showed good delineation. Some “day for not” shots came across as somewhat opaque – poor Quarrel can barely be seen – but that problem was unavoidable. Overall, the flick presented really fine visuals.

While not quite as impressive, the audio of Dr. No also fared well for a film of this one’s vintage. Just like all its Bond siblings, the DVD featured both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 remixes along with the original mono. Though I thought the DTS was a smidgen more involving, both sounded too much alike for me to draw any true distinctions between them.

The expanded soundfields offered the most impressive aspects of these tracks. They didn’t suffer from excessive ambition, as they managed to open up matters but not stretch the source material to its breaking point. Effects usually went with general ambience, and that worked nicely, especially in crowd sequences. These used the back speakers to form a good sense of the setting but they didn’t come across as too busy or showy. Occasional localized elements popped up in the front, and vehicles demonstrated nice movement.

The tracks featured a fair amount of well placed dialogue in the side speakers, but music was less successful. Except for the dynamic rendering of the theme in the opening credits, the score and songs sounded like broad mono to me. They spread to the side speakers but failed to demonstrate clear stereo imaging. I also thought they featured a little too much reverb and lacked the depth I’d like.

Audio quality was fine given the movie’s age but didn’t match up with the decent expansion of the 5.1 soundfields. Speech sounded a bit stiff and reedy, though the lines were always readily intelligible and lacked edginess. As I mentioned, music packed punch only when we heard the main theme. Otherwise the score was clear but a bit flat. Effects worked a bit better. They never suffered from notable distortion, and they occasionally displayed solid bass response; some explosions and louder elements offered very good use of the LFE channel. I liked these remixes and felt they were thoughtful expansions of the source elements.

How did the picture and audio of this “Ultimate Edition” compare to those of the original special edition from 2000? Both areas demonstrated substantial improvements. The sound seemed livelier and less distorted, while the visuals were brighter, cleaner and better defined. The new rendition blew away the old one.

This “Ultimate Edition” includes all the elements from the prior DVD and adds a mix of new ones. I’ll note pieces exclusive to the UE with an asterisk, so if you fail to see a star, that means the component also appears on the old disc.

First up is an excellent audio commentary from a wide variety of participants. Narrated by Bond historian John Cork, this edited piece presents director Terence Young, editor Peter Hunt, composer Monty Norman, actors Lois Maxwell, Ursula Andress, Eunice Gayson, Marguerite Lewars, Zena Marshall and Timothy Moxon, sound effects editor Norman Wanstall, special effects supervisor John Stears, art director Syd Cain, production buyer Ron Quelch, Eon Productions former VP marketing Jerry Juroe, production designer Ken Adam, former UA executive David Picker, associate producer Stanley Sopel, location manager Chris Blackwell, photographer Bunny Yeager, stuntmen Richard Graydon, Bert Luxford and George Leech, and producer's wife Dana Broccoli.

This track is a bit different from other Bonds in that it provides much more general information than usual. This means that while we certainly learn a lot about Dr. No in particular, we also get a lot of details about the beginnings and the origins of the series in general. We learn about the editing style, shooting in Jamaica, sets and budgetary restrictions, music, reflections on various cast and crew, and many filming specifics. The commentary aptly mixes general information about the series’ launch with details exclusive to No. This adds up to a strong track that should be very compelling for Bond fans; it’s one of the better Bond commentaries.

Over on DVD Two, we open with *007: Licence to Restore. The 11-minute and 55-second program examines the processes used for the new Bond transfers. We see examples of these methods and find remarks from MGM vice president of technical services Scott Grossman, MGM director of technical services James Owsley, Lowry Digital Images president Michael Inchalik, LDI founder and CEO John Lowry, chief color scientist Price Pethel, and project managers Ryan Gomez, Patrick Cooper, Andrea Avila, Jackie Lopez and Stephanie Middler. Lowry takes us through a tour of his company and then we learn about specifics related to the Bond restorations.

I often find this sort of program to come across as self-congratulatory, and that tone does occur here. “Restore” also occasionally feels like an ad for LDI. That said, we do discover some intriguing facts about the technical elements at work, so if the subject interests you, this piece deserves a look.

Two elements appear under Declassified: MI6 Vault. We find *The Guns of James Bond, a five-minute and seven-second featurette. Created during the shoot for Goldfinger, Sean Connery introduces us to gun expert Jeffrey Boothroyd, the inspiration for Major Boothroyd. The program looks at various aspects of 007’s firearms. It offers a fun archival piece that’s a blast to see.

*Premiere Bond: Opening Nights goes for 13 minutes, eight seconds as it comes with narration from Bond series producer Michael G. Wilson. He leads us through photos and footage of various Bond premieres. It’s an interesting view of how each flick through Die Another Day debuted.

With that we head to the *007 Mission Control Interactive Guide. This splits into components under seven different headings: “007”, “Women”, “Allies”, “Villains”, “Mission Combat Manual”, “Q Branch”, and “Exotic Locations”. An odd form of “greatest hits”, this simply presents a few selected scenes that match the topics.

One of the only interesting elements comes from the presentation of the opening credits without text (2:40). “Locations” (2:35) also gives us a narrated set of clips. Maud Adams chats over the scenes and tells us about the locations. That makes it more useful than the others since they just show snippets from the final film. The rest of the set is a waste of time.

Heading to Mission Dossier, we begin with Inside Dr. No and it runs for 42 minutes, five seconds. A bit of a companion to the audio commentary - which duplicates a few of the interview statements - this is a fine documentary that both conveys information on the creation of the Bond series and gives us details of the film's production. We hear from a nice variety of participants, most of whom appear in 1990s interviews but some come from archival footage. This list includes Picker, Dana Broccoli, Wilson, Young, Sopel, Connery, Adam, Blackwell, Hunt, Maxwell, Gayson, Andress, Lewars, Moxon, Norman, Cain, Wanstall, co-producer Harry Saltzman’s son Steven, clothier Simon Hobbs, and composer John Barry. We also witness a lot of film clips and production shots.

As with the commentary, “Inside” takes a wide overview of the production. The show begins with a look at Bond’s path to the big screen before it digs into casting, locations, Young’s impact on the series, and other aspects of the shoot. We find great notes about all these areas. It's a very entertaining and informative piece that works well.

A second program called Terence Young: Bond Vivant also appears. This documentary lasts for 17 minutes, 55 seconds and focuses on Young, the director of Dr. No and two of the three subsequent Bonds, From Russia With Love and Thunderball. We find remarks from Graydon, Wilson, Andress, Hunt, Adam, Leech, Cain, Picker, Maxwell, Stears, Young’s daughter Juliet Nissen, and actors Mollie Peters, Desmond Llewelyn, Luciana Paluzzi, and Martine Beswick. The show examines Young's career and his effect on the Bond franchise, and we hear from a wide variety of folks with whom he worked. It's a nice little tribute to the man.

A final video piece appears as well. This is an eight-minute and 40-second featurette from 1963. While clearly promotional in purpose, this program is quite entertaining just because it's now so quaint. It serves to inform us about the details of Bond, and it does so in a typically-geeky early-Sixties manner. The black and white quality's not so hot, but it's a fun program nonetheless.

Dr. No features quite a few other promotional materials as well. Under Ministry of Propaganda, we find four theatrical trailers; two of these are for the original release of Dr. No, while the other two come from double-feature re-releases of the film. The first preview is the most fun, mainly because of the voiceover from Connery.

Two TV ads appear. Both of these were used to promote the Dr. No/Goldfinger double-feature re-release. They're rather redundant and not all that compelling.

Finally, the ads finish with six radio spots. These are charming and fun, as is usually the case with this kind of promotion; radio ads can't rely on the visual flash so they need to be more creative in other ways. None of these are as cool as the one from Goldfinger in which a female Bond fan paints herself in gold to the delight of her husband, but they're interesting nonetheless.

In the Image Database, Dr. No features a nice collection of still galleries. It includes about 160 shots across the eight different sections. All of them are worth a look, but I was especially fond of the "Jamaica" area, which includes the most pictures by far and also provides easily the most interesting shots. In that area, we find a tremendous number of casual pictures of the stars, and these are simply wonderful to see. I'm not usually a fan of photo galleries, but this one is a definite winner.

Lastly, the DVD features a booklet. As with its siblings, the piece offers some photos and text. Both flesh out the movie a little more and offer a good companion to the rest of the set.

The first Bond isn't the best, but Dr. No remains a very good film that nicely introduces the series that would become so famed. The DVD itself provides excellent visuals, solid audio and a fine roster of extras. This is a must have film and a strong DVD.

Should folks who already own the prior release pursue this Ultimate Edition? Yes, since the new version offers vastly improved picture and audio. The extras don’t get much expansion, though, as the set’s exclusive bonus features aren’t anything special. The new transfer makes this one a winner.

Note that this “Ultimate Edition” of Dr. No can be purchased only as part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume Four”. This five-movie set also includes You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, Octopussy, and Tomorrow Never Dies.

To rate this film visit the original review of DR. NO

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main