Being a Bond fan has not been very rewarding of late. Due entirely to some unfortunate legal wrangling over the MGM rescue package. The lawyers have always been the ultimate bad guy where Bond is concerned. Whenever He is absent for a long period, you can be certain ‘those’ guys are responsible. How nice then, to just be beavering away at Starburst HQ, sifting through review materials, and then I open this…
The guys at Double-O-Seven Magazine had sent me something that proceeded to rob me of the rest of the afternoon, and did so with aplomb. I held in my hands the latest from their ‘Archive Files’ series – ‘DR NO: File # 1’. Which I promptly withheld from the rest of the writers, in a purely selfish act.
I was instantly grabbed by the very nice (and exquisitely glossy) cover, sporting a Mitchell Hooks, Dr No film poster repro. This strong visual aesthetic is present throughout the entire publication, with images that I will comment on later. Pretty much everything that could be known about this first entry in our favourite movie franchise, has been reprinted many times, in many books over the years. Yet this special actually manages to bring a fresh perspective, and is well worth a read, even for die hard Bond fans, who have been spoon fed this stuff. Stephen Rowley crafts a captivating reappraisal of this often underrated first entry in the series. Not sycophantic in the least. Not hiding the many flaws inherent within the transition from the classic novel. Especially focusing on the wisdom in altering the later part of the novel, in which Bond easily escapes from his cell via a ventilation shaft (originally it was to have been an endurance trial in which he was supposed to perish).
The view of many fans (myself included), is that thematically, there are only two kinds of Bond movie. ‘Goldfinger’ (Big sets, Over the top Villains, and heavy on gadgets), and ‘From Russia With Love’ (Low on set pieces, more conservative Villains, and light on gadgets). Most of the series falls into one camp, or the other. With a few that straddle between, it is the extremes at either end of the spectrum that tend to fare better critically, and commercially. Thematically ‘DR NO’ has always suffered in my opinion, from being the first movie, and also from straddling the two styles. Stephen Rowley, wisely recognises that the film is due for some recognition, and does a fine job of reminding us, that this is a VERY important movie. With some fine Bond moments. A movie that needs to be viewed as a movie in its’ own right. He really does do a splendid job of deconstructing DR NO, without becoming dry and academic.
It was also nice to see a legend of the Bond franchise, getting a nod of appreciation. Stuntman, Bob Simmons. Simmons appears nearly as much as Connery in this movie. Even appearing in the famous ‘Gun Barrel’ sequence. An honour he would retain until being replaced by Connery himself in ‘Thunderball’. When the switchover to widescreen, and its’ extra detail, would have unmasked our anonymous hero.
I said that I would get back to the images, and the visual presentation. The photos in this publication are astoundingly good, and very well formatted. Giving a luscious, vivid appearance. I won’t ruin it, but all aspects of the movie are well represented with images, some of which I have never seen before (and I have a healthy shelf full of Bond). My favourites are images of Connery and Fleming, together on set. I have not seen those for ages, and they are nice glimpses of Bond history. That make you wish you were privy to some of THOSE conversations.
In my opinion you should get the Double-O-Seven ‘DR NO: File # 1’ – I personally guarantee you will love it. During the aforementioned Bond ‘lean periods’, I think we should be grateful that Graham Rye and the rest of the guys at Double-O-Seven Magazine, keep the torch burning with quality Bond goodies like this.
Published by 007 MAGAZINE & Archive - www.007magazine.co.uk.