February 3, 2019- by Steven E. Greer, MD
When I as a kid, Roger Moore had taken over the James Bond role from Sean Connery. Even then, I knew they were cheesy and unbelievable, but some of the lines were clever. I never knew much about the Sean Connery films.
I watched the first Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No. It was a box office success and started the entire genre of Bond and other spy films.
The fact that it was well-received is what makes this film worth watching. It is atrocious and cringe-provoking. It tells a lot about the state of the American society at the time.
1962 was shortly before the rock and roll era erupted. The famous theme song has a rock beat. The cool look was still the man in a suit with greased hair. The alcohol and tobacco companies and thoroughly indoctrinated the people into thinking both substances were cool.
John F. Kennedy was freshly elected and causing nuclear standoffs with China and Russia. The Cold War was in high gear. Old-fashioned spy-craft was a new thing that the public had never seen before. This film depicts Bond doing several low-tech tricks that a real spy would have done in the day.
The men had no muscles. Nobody seems to have lifted weights. Even Sean Connery, who represented the best of the male sex that Hollywood could find, could probably not bench-press more than 150-pounds.
The women were super-obedient docile creatures who were quick to have sex. Smacking a woman on the ass or forcefully bedding her as she says “No.” was acceptable and manly. Playboy magazine had been around for 10-years. The birth-control pill was approved in 1960 and the sexual revolution was taking off. JFK himself was a huge womanizer, to the point of self-destruction. Donald Trump was 16 at the time.
With that perspective in mind, this film was made. However, even by those standards of the day, the books by Ian Fleming were considered to be too sexist. True to the books, Dr. No depicts all of the misogyny of the day, as well as the glorification of cigarettes and alcohol.
But that is not what makes this film so bad. The acting of the time was still more like what would be seen at a Broadway play rather than a modern film. Actors exaggerated lines and body movements. Some of the lines are so cliché that they make the viewer laugh.
Michael Meyers’ spoof series, Austin Powers, pokes fun at the James Bond film plots for never killing Bond with a simple bullet, and instead relying on elaborate means, such as lasers. In this film, the evil Dr. No sends a man to kill Bond using a tarantula.
Racism was also very much alive in 1962 in the U.S. and around the world. In Dr. No, the entire treatment of Blacks and Asians is offensive. One female character, supposed to be Chinese, is clearly Caucasian with eyelid makeup. The numerous Black characters in the Jamaica scenes were subservient, like plantation slaves.
Currently, the Trump-resistance far-left politicians, such as Andrew Cuomo, have made gaffes trying to say that “America was never that great.” Of course, they are wrong. Even at its worst, the United States has always been the place people would prefer to live.
What the resistance should do instead is point out how far women have come since the 1960’s. But the Democrat party is a sinking ship without a smart leader. It will instead focus on promoting socialism and abortion. All of the 2020 contenders would be wise to watch Dr. No.
(Editor’s Note: the new Roger Craig Bond films, particularly Skyfall, were excellent, with the exception of Spectre, where the studios forced into the film too much silly action.)