Revisiting “Dr. No”, the first James Bond Film

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The last time I watched Dr. No was several years ago, and the last time I read the book was when I was 15 — and that was a long time ago. I remember being disappointed in the movie, feeling that not only was it outdated, it lacked the action of the later films, the tension, and it was rather slow.

James Bond point a gun

Last night, however, I revisited it. It’s probably been at least 10 years since I watched it last, maybe longer, and I was prepared to slog my way though it more out of curiosity than anything else. However, this time I enjoyed it. I liked the slower pacing, the more mundane spy plot, and the way the Bond character relied much more on confidence, determination, and his wits than on spy gadgets. He was a spy. He did actual spy things. He saw traps and he went along with them, ready to take control of the situation when the trap was sprung.

Of course, being a product of it’s time, there were many things in the film that today would be considered very problematic. Casting caucasian actors as asian. The unflattering and stereotypical treatment of the main black character. And of course there’s the James Bond trademark womanizing. As I rarely if ever watch older films, it was a bit jarring, but you have to excuse it for what it is: a bygone era.

What I need to do now is go back and read the book, and compare the two. And being that I haven’t read the book in about 45 years, I’m curious to see how much of it I remember, or what memories it shakes out of the dusty old brain cells of mine. I know I was staying with my brother in Tucson Arizona that summer, and that’s what I was doing — going to the local library with my sister and checking out James Bond books.

Do you have a favorite old James Bond book, or movie?

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