Dr. No (1962)

Besides the American atrocity that came before, this is the one that started it all.  It has all the remnants of a movie made at the beginning of the 60’s but in a lot of ways it’s still a fun spy movie.

It’s more detective story than intelligence agent with Bond basically finding clues, despite MI-6 and CIA and everyone else he goes it alone without any support team (Felix is about as involved as a chair), sleeps with 3 women that we know of while on a mission, and generally stumbles around without any real plan and is inexplicably left alive to luck his way into the villain’s plans (and lair) and just as luckily stop them.  It could be the plot of a 1980’s comedy if it wasn’t supposed to be serious.  He’s also kind of an a**hole.

The movie doesn’t do as good of a job as the book of portraying Ian Fleming’s spymaster wetdreams.

Still, it’s a classic so if you haven’t seen it then go back and see where things originated.  Remember, before Church and Pike, this was part of the media that shaped actual public perception of spy work.  The strange thing about that is that Bond is very unique in film at this point.  There have been OSS or CIA or other intelligence agents at work but professionals have not been the focus of a movie yet and only been ancillary supporting characters.  All of the sudden we get this bleak professional as the driving force of a film but we get no back story on this guy, no development, no anything other than he’s a 007, spy, works for MI6 and is a professional agent.  That sounds like a decent description but why is he a spy?  Where did he come from?  How did he work his way up to 007?  What kind of guy is he?  We are missing the context for the character and can only judge him by his actions.  That’s why Skyfall hits you in the curiosity, it’s finally personal.