Well, there’s nothing quite like your first, and when producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman decided to bring about a barely 30 year old Scotsman named Sean Connery, whose most recent work was as a British soldier in The Longest Day, into the film version of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, who had any idea that Dr. No would become a culture landmark, let alone a movie franchise?
Now, one of the first things that comes to mind when you watch Dr. No, if you haven’t watched it in aw…ile (or at all) is that Michael Myers seems to liberally steal from this film when it comes to the Austin Powers trilogy. Connery (as Bond) goes to Jamaica to discover the reasons behind a disappearance of a colleague. There he meets his American CIA contact Felix Leiter (holy crap, that’s Jack Lord from Hawaii Five-O!) and with the help of some of the locals, they meet a mad scientist named Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman, Viva Zapata!), and he captures Bond and a female companion named Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress, Clash of the Titans), feeds them a lavish dinner while telling them about a plan to destroy the world for money, and James and Honey get out of the trap to eliminate them while James saves the world while telling Michael York about it (wait, stumbled into the wrong film there).
The interesting thing to notice when watching the film is that, at least as opposed to recent Bond films, is that the character is a much more darker character than one would expect. James kills an informant, and puts another bullet in him to be sure. James sleeps with a female worker who might be associated with Dr. No’s organization, and gets more information out of her before sending her to the police. And Connery plays Bond with arrogance, but the cool thing about watching him do it is that you can’t help but like it. He’s sometimes bending the rules that movie heroes are supposed to follow, but he knows (and so does the viewer) that it’s his ass if he doesn’t.
The restoration work done by Lowry Digital to clean up and make Dr. No look like a film again is quite apparent in the older films like this. The 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation for Dr. No looks quite pristine, but it almost looks like any film grain is missing here, and looks a bit too clean. The image is as good as it will look, so this complaint is minor.
Wow, a 45 year old film with a DTS track, you don’t see too many of those nowadays. And there’s even some surround effects in the rear speakers, something that was a complete surprise. While it would have been nice to hear the original mix, these newer mixes are quite respectable.
Each of the Bond films have retained their extras from the original releases and introduced new ones as well, with the new extras ranging from quite good to a little thin. Each disc is listed with the new features on the back of the case somewhat predominantly. The commentary track includes a load of members from the cast and crew, including Director Terence Young and Andress, There’s a host for the track (John Cork of the Ian Fleming Foundation), but even with 20 people in the track, he still feels the need to clarify things in the production. While the idea to load this up with a lot of people was nice, the execution was a little bit sloppy.
Disc Two starts off with the “Top Level Access” section, which is a look at the restoration effort done by Lowry. John Lowry and other representatives discuss the restoration process in detail (which doubles as a tour of the offices), along with a lot of comparison shots. The “Declassified: MI6 Vault” takes a peek into firearms that Bond uses. Introduced by Connery onset at the time of the production (pretty cool) it covers other various guns in Bond films also. Another feature called “Premiere Bond” includes stills and footage of the various premieres of the films through the years. Moving on to the “007 Mission Control” section, like Octopussy this section is composed of quick clips, looks and highlights from the movie’s villains, damsels, weapons, gadgets and locations. The “Mission Dossier” picks up where the old extras left off, including an older look at the Bond character, the books and films that came from it. It includes lots of archived interview footage from Saltzman and Broccoli, along with newer footage from surviving family members and some of the cast. The character, the one liners, the wardrobe, the famous scenes, the score, they’re all covered in this piece that is slowly paced to walk along with the production, and it’s very good. “Terence Young: Bond Vivant” is a more biographical piece on the director. The original on-set featurette has clips from the film (but since they’re pulled into the featurette, they’re all in black and white) and stills, so it’s a quick harmless piece. The “Ministry of Propaganda” section focuses on the trailers, TV spots and radio ads, and there’s an image database to complete things.
While the extras are as overwhelming or mind-blowing as in some other titles that are more recent, the gem of the older Bond catalog titles is the restoration effort, and they look excellent for their age. The restoration warrants the upgrade, unless you feel like waiting to see what will happen on the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray front, but this is an easy recommendation to buy.
Special Features List
- Director/Cast & Crew Commentary
- Restoration Examination
- Firearms Exploration
- Premiere Footage
- Interactive Guide
- Making of Documentary
- Director Biographical Look
- Trailers/TV Spots
- Stills Gallery