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Dr. No (1962) – DVD Review

Dr. No DVD


Written by: Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, and Berkley Mather; based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Directed by: Terence Young
Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, and Bernard Lee


  • Commentary with director Young and assorted cast and crew
  • “Inside Dr. No” documentary
  • “Terence Young: Bond Vivant” documentary
  • Original TV featurette
  • Still gallery
  • Original TV and radio ads
  • Original trailers
  • Making-of booklet

Released by: MGM
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Are you kidding? Own it.

[ad#longpost]The appearance of Dr. No in 1962 heralded the arrival of one of the most successful film franchises of all time: James Bond. Ian Fleming‘s superspy has since been the focus of twenty motion pictures, and is one of the most instantly recognizable figures in cinema history (except maybe for the dark years of Timothy Dalton).

The story is remarkably straight forward, especially compared to later Bond fare. A deranged half-Chinese engineer named Dr. No (Wiseman) is posing a threat to the United States space program in its early, formative years. Some British agents in Jamaica inch too close to his secrets, and are summarily killed. Enter Bond. Sent by MI-6 to investigate the disappearance of their agents, James Bond picks up where his predecessors left off, and sets about trying to topple the megalomaniac’s criminal empire (and perhaps learn a little bit more about the mysterious SPECTRE organization behind No’s schemes).

With Ursula Andress making an appearance as the original “Bond girl,” more gunplay than you could shake a martini at, and a sleek, sophisticated style that practically oozed off the screen, it’s little wonder that the film was a hit. It is the very epitome of what later became recognizable as the Bond formula, and has the ephemeral qualities that some of the more recent entries into the franchise lack: namely, more style than explosions, and more spying than gadgets. Bond’s “high-tech” repertoire consists entirely of a Walther PPK and a Geiger counter. Everything else he does, he does with his own wits and charm.

The DVD brings the picture back in a stellar transfer and excellent sound. The film looks beautiful, and the Jamaican scenery around which the film’s action occurs only serves to reinforce what a good-looking movie it is. There are no serious visual blemishes to mar the presentation, despite the age of the source material.

Given that the movie is pretty much guaranteed to move DVDs without any help whatsoever, it was a pleasant surprise to discover the wealth of extra features. A director’s commentary is virtually unheard of for DVD releases of movies this old, and the fact that half the cast and crew weigh in with a few thoughts of their own makes it even more entertaining. The only notable absence is Connery himself, which is a bit of a disappointment, but not a deal-breaker.

The featurettes total over an hour and a half in length, and discuss every aspect of the production, including all the trials and tribulations that had to occur before Salzman and Broccoli partnered up to launch the franchise. The gallery of original promotional spots is interesting, if for no other reason than to see how the studios pitched this opening Bond flick as compared to the massive marketing budgets hurled at today’s special effects fiascoes.

It’s Bond. You know you want it. So go get it. It’s a great addition to your DVD collection, and a classic of the franchise. The bonus features are icing on the cake, but they’re very tasty icing, and will give something new to die-hard Bond fans besides the feature itself.