Dr. No Turns Fifty! Ten Facts About the First James Bond Movie

Dr. No: The First James Bond Movie Celebrates 50 Years! Hard to believe, but it really was a half-century ago today that moviegoers were introduced to Bond…James Bond, as the first 007 feature film found Her Majesty’s top spy (Sean Connery) investigating mysterious goings-on at a small Jamaican port, where he met the bikini-clad Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) and foiled the schemes of the diabolical Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman). Here are 10 trivia facts about Dr. No. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.

1. Dr. No had its World Premiere on October 5, 1962 at the London Pavilion in Piccadilly Circus. Star Sean Connery and 007 creator Ian Fleming were both in attendance.

2. Although a contest was run to find the actor who would play James Bond, producer Albert R. Broccoli saw Sean Connery in Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People and decided he was the one. As it turned out, the actual contest winner didn’t have enough acting experience to carry it off.

3. When Connery was selected as Bond, author Ian Fleming wasn’t nuts about the choice. First, Sean is Scottish and the Bond character is English. Connery comes off as being rugged, while the 007 of Fleming’s books is actually well-educated and quite refined. But, as filming progressed, Fleming would come to agree that the casting was spot on.

4. Of all the Bond novels, Dr. No was the first filmed due to its ease of understanding. As a bonus for the producers, nearly all the action was set in Jamaica, a fact that helped them keep location costs down.

5. Dr. No is also unique in that of all the films featuring SPECTRE as the superspy’s nemesis, the organization’s supreme commander, Blofeld, never appears.

6. As Ian Fleming’s cousin, Christopher Lee was the author’s first choice to play Dr. No. Other actors considered for the part were Max von Sydow and Noel Coward, both of whom turned it down before the role was awarded to Joseph Wiseman. Eventually Lee did play a Bond villain when he was Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Also, von Sydow became an 007 villain when he played Blofeld in 1983′s Never Say Never Again. Only Coward was never cast in a Bond movie. Reportedly he sent Fleming a cable stating, “Dr. No? No! No! No!”

Dr. No starring Sean Connery celebrates 50 years!

Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No

7. Rumor has it that after Ian Fleming first saw Dr. No, he said, “Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

8. Before directing chores went to Terence Young, it was offered to Bryan Forbes, Guy Hamilton, Guy Green and Ken Hughes, who all turned it down. Also under consideration was Phil Karlson. After the film’s success, Young came back to helm two more 007 movies: From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).

9. Until Quantum of Solace was released in 2008,  Dr. No–with a running time of 106 minutes–was the shortest of all the Bond films, clocking in at 111 minutes. Diehard 007 trivia buffs know that 1964′s Goldfinger also runs 111 minutes.

10. Don’t believe it — Ursula Andress is not naked in the shower scene. Some people refuse to accept that she’s wearing one of those flesh-colored bathing suits…but she is. The role of Honey Rider was the last major part to be cast and Andress got the job when a photograph of her taken by hubby John Derek was shown to the producers, who offered her the opportunity without having met her in person. Although she had already appeared on film eight years earlier, Ursula wasn’t interested in an acting career at the time, and only accepted after her friend Kirk Douglas recommended playing the first “Bond Bombshell.”

And now for your enjoyment, please say “yes” and watch the 1962 theatrical trailer for Dr. No:

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Please see our additional articles on James Bond:

Who’s Your Favorite James Bond Movie Henchman?

Nobody Does Bond Better, 001: The Connery Craze

Nobody Does Bond Better, 002: George Lazenby

Nobody Does Bond Better, 003: Roger Moore

Bring On the James Bond Bad Guys

  • Codewizard

    *lmao* NO NO NO. I couldn’t help but think of the scene from Singing in the Rain where at the premiere of the Cavalier, the sound loses sync with the film.

  • Blair Kramer

    As I understand it,  Roger Moore won the mail-in contest conducted by the London newspaper called the Daily Mail. However, if you know anything about Moore’s background you know full well that,  by the time of DR. NO,  Moore already had a successful stage, screen, and TV career.  The notion that Moore didn’t have enough acting experience couldn’t have been true.  I suspect the reason he didn’t initially get the part is much simpler.  Moore, a star,  would have required a much higher pay check than Connery, a newcomer (possibly the same reason why they didn’t use Cary Grant).  But by the time Roger Moore finally appeared in LIVE AND LET DIE,  the producers decided that they needed the crutch of a familiar name to bolster the box office.  Besides,  by that time,  they could afford him.  Also, regarding SPECTRE and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, even though Dr. No says he is a member of SPECTRE in the film,  he does no such thing in the book.  Ian Fleming doesn’t mention SPECTRE in the novel.  The producers simply added that bit of business.  But that’s OK.  I don’t see anything wrong with it. Be that as it may,  I often wonder why they didn’t make Goldfinger a member of SPECTRE as well.  Every James Bond fan knows that Auric Goldfinger came up with a scheme to break into Fort Knox on his own initiative. Basically, he tries to use an atomic bomb donated by the Red Chinese to destroy the entire gold supply of the United States!  But if you think about it,  it’s much more like the sort of thing Blofeld would have concocted!  Oh well…

    By the way… I recently saw DR. NO on the big screen with friends of mine.  Even though I own a Blu-ray DVD of the film,  how often will any of us get a chance to see that film in a movie theatre?  I suspect it’ll never happen again! I sure as heck wasn’t gonna pass it up!

    • NCLyle323

      SPECTRE first appeared in the novel “Thunderball,” which was developed by Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory, and was initially the first film concept, but was shelved due to the complexity of filming the story at that time. This is why SPECTRE was ultimately dropped from the film series, as McClory won a lawsuit against the film producers, and was able to film his own Bond film, “Never Say Never Again,” with Sean Connery. The concept of SPECTRE is owned by McClory, and theoretically, if he wanted, he could film “Thunderball” again. Clearly, in light of the Cold War, the producers felt that utilizing SPECTRE as Bond’s antagonist was more diplomatic than dragging the Russians and SMERSH into the films.

      • Wayne P.

        Wasnt it from Russia With Love that the line KGB Smersh, first came out?  It was a definite us against them mentality from the ‘hot’ Cold War days of the early 1960′s and even JFK loved Bond!

        • TYRONE SCOTT

          yes your are absoluty right it was Smersh when the book came out and the device was called a spektor in the book renamed lecktor because the name of the bad guys were S.P.E.R.T.E. who replace Smersh from the book version!

  • JerryF

    A good point has been made about Roger Moore’s acting talent. It couldn’t have been said he had no acting skills. Moore would have fit Fleming’s vision of Bond perfectly but screen tests were given to the the six finalists by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman: Ian Fleming was also in on the selection and Moore wasn’t one of them. Our information says the guy who won was Peter Anthony, a 28-year old working model. Supposedly Anthony had the looks but was too deficient in acting experience to pull it off.
    In Roger Moore’s book, “My Word is My Bond” from 2008, he states that he wasn’t approached to star in Dr. No; nor did he ever get any inkling he was in the running. Once Connery made it public he wasn’t continuing in the Bond character was when Moore heard he was being taken in account. However that was after Diamonds Are Forever in 1971.

  • Joseph23006

    I saw “Dr. No” as the second film at a drive-in after “55 Days at Peking”.  I was about 13 and my cousins had taken  me, my sister, and my mother to see a ‘show’.  “Dr. No” sounded like a dirty movie, my little sister and mother, gasp, gasp.  Could I crawl into the trunk?  Then this suave, tuxedoed gentleman appeared on the the screen and said, “Bond, James Bond.”  I was hooked.  Then there was Ursula, she was just in they way, my hormones hadn’t figured that out.  I still like the way I look in a tuxedo holding a vodka martini, up with a gorgonzola olive, class is what it’s all about!     

  • William Sommerwerck

    My understanding is that Fleming saw Bond as not being particularly good-looking, and (supposedly) wanted Hoagy Charmichael for the part!

    It’s not surprising he was disappointed with the final product, as it’s a generally inelegant film that too-often looks like it cost $600,000. The “control center” set is too-brightly lit and overly reminiscent of “Doctor Who”.

    By the way, James Bond is a secret agent — not a spy.

  • Ludy

    Isn’t  it  true  that  James  Bond  first  appeared  in  novel  form  in  the  early  1950′s?  Though  Ian  Fleming  never  gave  him  a  birth date,  researchers  calculated  that  he  was  in  his  early  30′s  then.   That  could  make  him  in his  90′s  today.    But  he  never  seems  to  age  in  the  films.

  • Lorraine

    It’s fascinating to realize that Sean Connery, who is considered by most to be the one, the classic Bond, was initially such a controversial choice. Reportedly even director Terence Young, upon learning that Connery had been selected, responded “Oh, disaster, disaster, disaster!”

  • Lorraine

    Also, they don’t seem to make leading men like they used to. Connery was 31 or 32 when he appeared in “Dr. No,” and is every single inch a grown man. He dresses like a grown man, he carries himself like a grown man, he sounds like a grown man when he speaks. By comparison most of today’s actors who are the same age come across, both onscreen and off, as boys. I know the culture has changed, but we seem so youth-obsessed now that maturity has become something of a dirty word. Too bad–maturity is very sexy.

    • Mike B

      Well said Lorraine. Sean Connery is Bond!

  • GANESHi

    I always get a laugh when the guy on the boat with the bullhorn at Dr. No’s island is calling out to the intruders (Bond & Ryder) with his voice echoing from the amplification and distance, then he drops the bullhorn to give orders to the crew and his voice is still echoing.

    All these years and they never bother fixing that in any revised prints.

  • BadGNX2

    Here’s a few “Dr. No” facts”:
    I have the pressbook on “Dr. No” and I must admit that it contained a few surprising things. First and foremost they had all types of movie promotional items for this film including a promotional 45 record. Don’t know who has one of these but I’m sure its worth a few bucks now. But clearly it was obvious that this was one of the first films to use all types of promotional items – way before any of the “Star Wars” films. In fact, “Goldfinger” was one of the greatest promotional/product placement films EVER and became the template for all Hollywood films to follow – up to this day!! The Aston Martin was introduced by name and model, something that was NEVER done in films before. The white Mustang that was used was actually the very first one in Europe and was sent to the production PRIOR to the car being formally introduced in April of 1964. In fact Ford used much of its 1964 model line up in “Goldfinger”. And then they went on to use the Bond films to introduce or promote all of their new luxury or sporty cars. Toyota specially made the white convertible 2000GT used in “You Only Live Twice” for that film ’cause Connery was too big to fit in the hardtop version. After that, the car was put in limited production. Today those cars are very valuable and are rarely sold.

    A few other facts that the producers let out was the fact that “Dr. No” had, at that time, been the most expensive rights paid for a British book.
    They also wanted to cash in on Kennedy’s name by politely mentioning that the James Bond character was one of the President’s favorites.

    On the studio “James Bond 10th Anniversary” album, which was kind of a greatest hits vehicle, they had “Underneath The Mango Tree” and “Three Blind Mice” from the opening credits of “Dr. No”. I always  thought it was unusual that they would feature these TRULY AWFUL songs but for some strange reason left off the superb Nancy Sinatra rendition of “You Only Live Twice”.

    The one thing about this film that has always rubbed me the wrong way was when Bond tells the Black character “Quarrel”, “Fetch my shoes!” In case anybody doesn’t know this, FETCH is what one usually tells A DOG. Luckily the Bond movies redeemed themselves by usually having positive Black characters.
     
    In the original Bond books, Bond is described as resembling Hoagy Carmichael. For anybody that doesn’t remember who Carmichael was, he was the piano player in “The Best Years Of Our Lives” and the piano player in Bogart’s “To Have and Have Not”. Although Carmichael was a talented performer, he was NO leading man by any way, shape or form. The producers were SMART to shelve that idea and instead go with the handsome, athletic Connery.
     
    Another thing that the producers WISELY did, beginning with “Dr. No” was not show Bond at home or mention much about his personal life, unlike the books, which went into detail about his home life and personal habits. By doing this, they allowed the male audience to imagine themselves as Bond and put themselves in his place and create their own male fantasy (and rack up ticket sales) by having a character not concern himself with the trials and tribulations of everyday life and instead concentrate on driving fast cars, bedding gorgeous women, winning most fights, traveling around the world, dropping sarcastic quips, and thwart evil villains all while keeping his cool.
     
    “Dr. No” was shown at the recent 2012 TCM Film Festival in Hollywood. This was the second time in a row that a Bond film was shown. “Goldfinger” was shown at the 2011 festival. Director Guy Hamilton was supposed to introduce the film and comment on it but he was a no show. It was later said that he had broken his leg or something like that.

    I must admit that the restoration of “Dr. No” was STUNNING. The color and photography was so vivid that it was startling. I had NEVER seen a print of this film so nice.

    Actress Eunice Gayson was there and said that originally her “Sylvia Trench” character (the one who first asks for Bond’s name at the card table) was actually supposed to be a small bit in all of the Bond films, kind of like a running gag. That’s why she’s in the first two. Because “Goldfinger” was made by a different director, her character was dropped and then never used again. Instead, Bond’s byplay with Moneypenny was used as one of the running gags in the films.

    She also related that by the time Sean Connery had fully grasped the fact that this was a VERY BIG project and he was the focal point of this movie and possibly the success or failure could be on his shoulders, HE WAS A NERVOUS WRECK. In fact, she said that the opening scene where Connery introduces the famous “Bond…James Bond” line was a DISASTER. Connery kept blowing that line repeatedly and could not get it right. They had to take him off of the set for awhile and calm him down. She thinks they gave him something to drink ’cause he was totally relaxed when he finally came back and nailed it.

    She also related that NOBODY within the production expected “Dr. No” to become the monster hit that it did. Especially since the studio gave it very little backing and Connery wasn’t a known name nor star at the time.

    • Wayne P.

      Nice tidbits and recollections…too bad they left off the Nancy Sinatra version of “You Only Live Twice” from the 10 yr. anniversary studio album…that great film was my first Bond experience and what a way to start, since I was only 11 and the film reeked of sexuality!  She also had a big hit that year with her Dad, that is remembered well, “Something Stupid” but it mightve actually come out in 1966 as am not sure and may be confusing it with “These Boots Are Made for Walking”?

  • Nils Goering

    Ian Fleming’s comment on ‘Dr. No’ is a pile of horsefeathers (trivia # 7). Obviously his expectations weren’t fulfilled.  Oh well.  For me, it remains my all time favorite James Bond film.  I saw it on its first release in 1962 and it still holds up well 50 years later.  I can’t say the same about many of the subsequent Bond films.  

  • Cara

    Dr. No remains my favorite Bond movie. You can’t imagine what impact it had on movie audiences when they (me) discovered that the ‘hero’ of the film was basically amoral. Dr. No depended on plot and characters and didn’t rely on the gimmicks that later Bond films would employ. It was Bond at his most elemental. I know that Goldfinger is considered by many to be the best Bond film, but the special effects around the Fort Knox sequence were really cheesy. I think the iconic laser sequence is what Goldfinger’s reputation rests on, but that’s not enough to sustain the whole film.

    My second favorite Bond film is Goldeneye. Its script is among the best of the series, and I admit I’m a Pierce Brosnan fan.

  • TYRONE SCOTT

    Sean Connery had more of an impact on James Bond the some people relies that fact that Ian Fleming would later add Scottish Ancestry to The James Bond family tree was because of Sean Connery’s protryal as well as being Scottish!