2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...
MISSION 1: DR NO (1962)
A MAN CALLED NO “I never fail, Mr Bond,” declares the master of Crab Key. With his dapper collarless suit and eerily robotic, black-gloved hands (“A misfortune,” he pronounces, with chilling, tantalising understatement), the first big screen Bond villain feels like the archetype for every world-grasping madman that follows. He’s already part of a long tradition, though, rooted in the Penny Dreadful devilry of such empire-threatening Oriental masterminds as Fu Manchu, created by Sax Rohmer in 1913. Ian Fleming approached Noel Coward for the title role – Coward’s response? “Dr No? No! No! No!” – while Christopher Lee declined the chance to take on 007 a whole decade before The Man With The Golden Gun . Acclaimed Broadway actor Joseph Wiseman won the part and played No in pseudo-Asian make-up, his face an implacable mannequin mask.
BOND’S WORLD Dr No creates a unique cinemascape for its hero, one poised between the old world and the new. Fleming’s beloved Jamaica is here, all colonial privilege, Cotton Island shirts and gentlemanly games of cards beneath a hot, listless sun. Big Ben, meanwhile, stands stately and reassuring in the British night as a secret service radio room fills with the urgent chatter of espionage. But elsewhere there’s a thrilling futurism: production designer Ken Adam spent $100,000 on the movie’s centrepiece nuclear control room set, conjuring a multi-tiered dream of atomic age tech. But Adam’s genius didn’t necessarily require serious bankrolling: one of the movie’s most memorable sets is simply a marble floor, some cunningly deployed shadows and a spider in a cage. It’s a masterclass in minimalist menace.
TRIV AND LET DIE
Who was the first person to play James Bond on the big screen? No, it wasn't Sean Connery. Stuntman Bob Simmons actually earns that honour, doubling for 007 in the opening gunbarrel sequence.
Filming began on January 16 th 1962. The first scene to be shot was Bond strolling past the photographer in the airport.
Dr No sees the first appearance of the character who would later become known as Q. Peter Burton plays Major Boothroyd, the Mi6 armourer who equips Bond with his signature Walther.
It was Ben Fish, a friend of producer Harry Saltzman, who suggested Connery for the role of 007.
JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE