Dr. No: The First James Bond Film

Wallflower. Nov. 2022. 264p. ISBN 9780231204934. pap. $28. FILM
This undeniably fun deep dive into a classic film is slightly academic, but Chapman (Licence To Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films) doesn’t miss a thing. Published on the 60th anniversary of Dr. No (the first film featuring James Bond), the book not only tracks the film’s history and production but also contextualizes Dr. No within 1960s British and U.S. cinema. Chapman argues that Dr. No, when released in 1962, was seen as both an exciting new direction for film and a somewhat lurid narrative of “sex, snobbery, and sadism.” He also uncovers the origins of the unlikely but magical partnership of producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, the extensive casting process that led to Sean Connery, and shares fascinating details about the evolutions of the script. Chapman is clearly a Bond fan himself, but he does not ignore the sexism and racist stereotypes that pervade Dr. No and many other Bond films. Drawing on archival information about production details, budgets, and every other aspect of the film, Chapman creates a highly detailed study that will be deeply interesting for Bond fans, if slightly excessive for general audiences.
VERDICT An extensively researched and enjoyable look at a screen legend.
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