Aug. 17--The opening four notes of its musical theme are as recognizable as any piece of popular music, and the line "shaken, not stirred" is equally famous, but it all began at the 1962 premiere in London when Sean Connery first uttered the words "Bond. James Bond," in "Dr. No."
Friends of the Fox brings the first James Bond film back to the big screen with a 2 p.m. Sunday screening at the Bob Hope Theatre.
"I have been pushing for a James Bond film for long time, and 'Dr. No' is the first one, and actually, to me, the best one," said Tom Conner, a member of the Friends' film selection committee. "It's the least gadgety. It has all the spices and flavors, and sets the mood for what comes afterward. I saw it when I was a young teenager, and it was a whole new experience in watching films."
Conner noted James Bond was a good guy, but his double-0 status gave him license to kill. And then there's the sex. Move over Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
"James Bond was very clearly a man who liked to have multiple partners and was never seriously in love or married," Conner said. "He never had the same heroine. He finished with one and with the next picture, he had another one."
In "Dr. No," Britain's top agent is tantalized by Honey Ryder (played by Ursula Andress) as he travels to Jamaica to solve the murder of a fellow agent and has to contend with assassins, tarantulas and the evil Dr. No. It's pre-Aston Martin, pre-ejector seat and other gadgets, but features the colorful beauty of the Caribbean island and an underwater hideout. It's also prescient. The plot is driven by mysterious radio interference being picked up at Cape Canaveral. According to the Internet Movie Database, a 1962 memorandum to the Pentagon reported unusually heavy radio emissions from Cuba, and that if John Glenn's upcoming orbit of the Earth were to fail, a case could successfully made (whether true or not) of Cuban sabotage.
The film is based on the writings of Ian Fleming, who'd served in Britain's Naval Intelligence during World War II as an aide to Rear Admiral John Henry Godfrey, Britain's director of naval intelligence, according to a 2012 story in Vanity Fair.
According to the magazine's reporting, Fleming met F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover and William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, the founder of the Office of Strategic Services, the Central Intelligence Agency's precursor, through Godfrey, and was allowed to devise schemes against the Nazis.
Fleming worked as a journalist after the war and spent his winters in Jamaica, where he began, in 1952, writing a James Bond novel every year.
Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman procured the movie rights to Fleming's books, and after much consideration, followed the advice of Broccoli's wife, Dana, and cast Connery as Bond.
"There was a lot of speculation about who would play Bond," Conner said. "Sean Connery was not well known at that time. He was pretty rugged. He had some tattoos that they covered with makeup, because they wanted him more sophisticated. He wasn't comfortable in tailored suits."
Connery was no Cary Grant, the star of Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest," whom the producers approached. Grant, though, would only commit to one film, and was dismissed. So was James Mason, the bad guy in "North by Northwest," who would agree to only two films.
"I think they got it right," Conner said.
Connery, for people who saw "Dr. No" when it premiered in the U.S. in 1963, is considered by many of them to be the best Bond.
He stayed for six of the 23 Bond films, which established him as a movie star.
Bond fans not only debate who is the best Bond -- Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig -- but which is the best film.
"There was some debate whether we would show this or 'Goldfinger,' " Conner said. "I fought hard for this, because it's the first James Bond, and if we're going to play one, we should play the first unless the second or third is 10 times better. 'Goldfinger' was probably more popular and had more gadgets, but it wasn't better."
Contact reporter Lori Gilbert at (209) 546-8284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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