Bond: Sean Connery
Release Date: 1962
Original Story: Dr. No
Publication Date: 1958
Previous Story: From Russia With Love
Next Story: Goldfinger
Villain: Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman)
Heavy: “Three Blind Mice” (Eric Coverly, Charles Edghill, Henry Lopez, all uncredited)
Bond Girls: Honeychile Ryder (Ursula Andress), Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson)
Other Notable Characters: M (Bernard Lee), Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Quarrel (John Kitzmiller), Major Boothroyd/Armourer (Peter Burton), Strangways, Felix Leiter (Jack Lord), Pleydell-Smith (Louis Blaazer), Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson)
Gadgets: The Dragon, an armoured vehicle armed with a flamethrower
Plot of Original: Strangways, the MI-6 secrtion head for Jamaica, and his secretary disappear. The secretary had started the daily wireless connection to HQ when she is killed, which begins a process of alerting the chain of command up to M. M assigns Bond to what should be a simple investigation, as 007 is still recovering from being poisoned at the end of From Russia With Love. The briefing includes what details M has of Strangways investigation of Crab Key and the death of two Audubon Society members at Dr. Julius No’s private airstrip on the island. Dr. No runs a guano mine.
On arrival in Kingston, Jamaica, Bond begins his investigating. He notices that he is being followed. Things escalate when he receives a basket of poisoned fruit. The Chief Secretary at Governor’s House, Pleydell-Smith, thinks that Bond is overplaying the events. Not to be deterred, Bond finds his friend Quarrel to get more info on Crab Key. They make plans to go to the island and investigate, despite the rumours of a dragon living there.
The trip takes a couple of days, using wind power until near radar detection range, then paddling in, landing on Crab Key in the early evening. The next morning, they’re awaken by a woman singing. Bond see the young woman, nude. collecting shells, and joins in on the song. The woman, Honeychile Rider, is startled. Bond convinces her that he means no harm. She collects her clothes, which is when Bond sees her own boat, complete with sail.
Bond knows that he and Quarrel are expected. Honey normally escapes notice, and is treated as a nuisance by Dr. No’s people. But with Bond, she’s in danger. A patrol boat arrives. Despite the group hiding, they are called out. When nothing happens, a machine gun rakes the beach. The boat’s skipper promises to return with the dogs. It’s a half day before they make good with the threat. Bond has the group hide in the water and wait for the guards to pass.
Undiscovered, Bond presses on. Night falls. In the distance, lights appear. Both Honey and Quarrel call it the dragon. Bond hears the dragon’s engine, and orders Quarrel to try to shoot the driver while he takes out the wheels. The “dragon” is armoured and has a flamethrower for its breath, killing Quarrel with a burst. Bond surrenders and he and Honey are taken prisoner in the back of the “dragon”, an armoured swamp buggy..
Dr. No’s base is luxurious compared to the industrial exterior. Bond and Honey are given time to freshen up and change before being brought to dinner to meet No. As all good Bond villains do, Dr. No gives his life story, knowing that there is nothing either of his guests could do to stop him. After dinner, both are led to their respective death traps. Honey is to be staked out in front of a crab migration. Bond is sent through an obstacle course that Dr. No designed to test the limits of human endurance, ending with a giant squid.
Bond fights through the obstacle course, fighting off the squid at the end with the last of his energy. He gets out of the course and sneaks up to the guano processing/loading docks. With no one looking, he gets to the controls and dumps tons of guano on Dr. No. He then returns to the base to find out where Honey is only to be dropped by her in error. They escape in the “dragon” to return to the boat he hid and return to Kingston.
The novel ends with Bond following on his investigation, making his reports, and then meeting with Honey one last time.
Being the first, there is no cold open. The movie begins with the opening credits, something that changes with From Russia With Love. After the credits, the death of Strangways and his secretary are more-or-less as per the novel. The first change comes with the introduction of Bond. In the novel, Bond was recovering from being poisoned by Rosa Klebb. However, since Dr. No is the first film of what could (and did) become a franchise, the movie went with a different approach. Bond is called back to duty while he is gambling at a casino, making small talk with Sylvia Trench. The scene establishes Bond’s playboy reputation.
The briefing is modified to have Strangways working with the CIA on problems with the American missile program. In between the time of the novel’s publication and the release of movie, the space race reached a moment where NASA sent a man, John Glenn, into orbit in the Friendship 7 capsule. Prior, the missile tests were part of the nuclear escalation of the Cold War. Dr. No is still misdirecting missile launches, but now there are lives at stake at launch.
Dr. No wasn’t explicitly a member of SPECTRE in the novel. The organization’s first appearance in the novels was in Thunderball, published in 1961. However, the organization makes for a good fictional villainous organization, so the movie had Dr. No as a member. Professor Dent also becomes a member and one of Dr. No’s lackeys in the film; in the novel, he was just one of Strangways’ card buddies who ran an analysis for him.
Crab Key’s primary industry changed. Instead of being a guano operation, it became the site of a bauxite mine. The mine was a cover for Dr. No’s base, which was still luxurious. With the change, Dr. No’s death also changed. The movie death is more cinematic and less anticlimactic, with a fight against Bond before being tossed into boiling radioactive water.
The obstacle course was more or less the same, save for the end. Budget precluded a giant squid, which would not have looked great given the era and the low budget. Bond is still pushed to his limit. Honey was staked out, but in front of a water intake instead of crabs. She also needed Bond to recue her instead of freeing herself off-screen.
Felix Leiter makes his first film appearance on the EON continuity. However, Felix was first introduced in Casino Royale and was not in Dr. No. Felix was working with Quarrel in the movie to try to find where Dr. No had his transmitter. Which leads to another change, Quarrel. Bond worked with Quarrel in the novels first in Live and Let Die; the two men picked up the investigation together without needing a third party like Felix.
The attempt to assassinate Bond with the tarantula came from the novel, but the animal of choice there was a large centipede. The change is minor; Bond got to feel the creature crawling up him in both formats, and neither creature survived the scene. The tarantula’s death was hidden behind a bed, so the animal may have survived while its character died.
Dr. No was filmed with a low budget compared to the films that would follow. Bets were hedged; the producer wouldn’t be out much if the film flopped. Dr. No is a quieter book for Bond, a simple investigation that turns deadly. As such, the 007 gadgets the franchise would get known for just aren’t there. Bond uses real world approaches, such as a strand of hair over a closet door to see if his room was searched. The only oddity is Dr. No’s “dragon”, an armoured vehicle with a flamethrower.
The movie acts as an introduction for people not familiar with 007. As such, Bond is shown at full strength. He’s not starting to have the fatalism that his literary version was building since Moonraker. His relationships with the regular supporting and recurring characters had to be established – his flirting with Miss Moneypenny, his deference to M, his professional relationship with Felix. The only character missing is Q, though the Armourer fills in that role.
Even with all the changes above, the plot does follow the novel’s closely. It’s the details that have changed, unlike Moonraker where a new plot was used with the same characters. However, starting with the sixth novel means that when the series goes over prior novels, there’s going to be continuity issues. Quarrel can’t appear in Live and Let Die without somehow explaining how he didn’t die here. But that is for future movie writers to deal with.
For a film that the studio hoped would be successful, casting was key. Several actors had been considering, including Cary Grant, Patrick McGoohan, and Roger Moore, with the latter passed over because he was too young for the role. Casting Sean Connery set the tone for the first five 007 movies, to the point where he is still many people’s favourite Bond.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Bond: George Lazenby
Release Date: 1963
Original Story: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Publication Date: 1963
Previous Story: The Spy Who Loved Me
Next Story: You Only Live Twice
Villain: Ernst Stavro Blodeld (Telly Savalas)
Heavy: Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat)
Bond Girls: Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), Ruby (Angela Scoular), Nancy (Catherina von Schell). plus ten more unnamed including one played by Joanna Lumley
Other Notable Characters: M (Bernard Lee), Q (Desmond Llewellyn), Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti)
Opening Credits: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service“, composed, arranged, and conducted by John Barry.
Closing Credits: “All the Time in the World“, written by John Barry and Hal David, performed by Louis Armstrong.
Plot of Original: Bond’s hunt for Blofeld since the end of Operation Thunderball, as per the novel Thunderball, is going nowhere. There is no sign of the head of SPECTRE. Bond is getting tired of his job and is thinking of resigning the service, having gone far enough to compose a letter of resignation. Said composition is while he’s driving his Bentley through France, and is interrupted by a young woman who goads him into chasing her through the twisting countryside roads.
Bond does catch up to the young woman at the baccarat tables, where he bails her out of financial problems after she cannot cover a massive bet. He trails her out of the hotel to the beach, where he prevents her from walking into the rough surf and killing herself. However, Bond wasn’t the only man watching her. Others from the Unione Corse, a European crime syndicate, are also on hand and take Bond and the young woman to the offices of Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the Unione and the father of Tracy, the young woman. Draco convinces Bond the only way to keep Tracy safe is for the spy to marry her.
An arrangement is worked out, and Draco uses his connections to assist Bond in his search for Blofeld, placing the villain in Switzerland. Bond returns to England and is informed that a Blofeld is claiming the title of Compte de Bleuville. He works with the College of Arms to learn the details of heraldry and assumes the role of Sir Hilary Bray, with the real one being given a vacation to go hiking in the countryside.
Bond arrives at Piz Gloria, where the would be Comte is waiting. The Comte’s assistant, Irma Bunt, handles the day-to-day business of the site as the Comte himself is busy with a project to help ten young women, all of British or Irish citizenship, overcome allergies. Bond investigates, hooks Blofeld on the possibility of being the heir to the title, and gathers intelligence. He discovers that the young women are being set up to be the vectors of biological warfare, later confirmed when an eleventh had to leave the project early and a large turkey cull was needed due to a virulent disease.
With this knowledge, and with Bunt becoming more suspicious of him, Bond leaves Piz Gloria, though not undetected. He survives the ensuing avalanche and runs into Tracy, who is feeling much better than before. They escape in her car, Bond proposes, and he returns to England.
On consulting M, the plan is to stop the young women as they return to England and raid Piz Gloria. However, going after Blofeld in Piz Gloria will need unofficial assistance; getting Swiss help may delay matters and lose Blofeld. Bond calls Draco to arrange a team from the Unione. They fly in, claiming to be on a medical mission to throw off Swiss air traffic control, then storm Piz Glora. Blofeld escapes down the bobsled run, Bond not far behind, but the villain gets away.
With the mission semi-successful – the lab at Piz Gloria is destroyed but Blofeld escaped – Bond and Tracy get married. As they head out on their honeymoon, they are shot at in a drive-by shooting by Bunt and Blofeld. Bond recovers but Tracy is fatally wounded.
The pre-credits sequence has Tracy’s attempted suicide, though not described as that. Bond meeting Tracy at the casino is after the credits; in the novel, the order is correct but Bond first meets Tracy at the casino, with their initial meeting done as a flashback. This change of order requires Bond to be kidnapped on his own, being taken to meet Draco. The meeting is condensed, but the beats are kept. The change in order makes sense in that 007 movies tend to open on an action sequence to get the audience’s blood going.
Bond does try to resign, though Moneypenny changes the resignation into a request for time off. Bond spends the time with Draco, where he learns of a potential lead instead of just being told outright by Draco. Again, this is to keep Bond as the active character instead of just being given the info. In the novel, Bond takes the info to M and formulate a plan to go undercover as Sir Hilary Bray of the College of Arms, which does happen in the movie, though, again, condensed.
Blofeld’s plot is more or less the same, except instead of targeting Great Britain and Ireland, he’s going after the world’s food supply. The twelve young women, not ten as per the novel, are from around the world, though Ruby remains British. Bond’s escape follows the novel’s version, though details are lost due to the change to a visual medium. Bond does run into Tracy, though the chase scene is more elaborate than in the book; the demolition derby was not in the novel.
Bond’s return to England is cut completely. Instead of reporting to M and getting various departments involved, Bond contacts Draco to get an assault team together to storm Piz Gloria, more or less as per the novel. Again, some details are condensed for time purposes, but once at Piz Gloria, the assault plays out as per the novel.
The movie also dropped a character. Bond’s secretary, Mary Goodnight, isn’t a significant character, but she does handle some of the paperwork needed. Moneypenny instead appears as M’s secretary, as usual, mainly thanks to having Lois Maxwell available. Goodnight will make her film debut in The Man With the Golden Gun.
OHMSS is George Lazenby’s only outing as 007. Sean Connery retired from being Bond after You Only Live Twice, but would return for Diamonds Are Forever in1971, thus having the same problem 007 had in leaving the service. The opening sequence calls out the new 007 with the line, “This never happened to the other fellow.“
Most of the differences between novel and film come from the change to a visual medium. A novel’s pace allows for more introspection by the main character, more details added to explain how the various moving parts work together. However, a movie audience isn’t going to sit still for a discussion on how the various parts of the British bureaucracy fit together. Likewise for an in depth explanation of European organized crime. It’s enough to state that Draco is a crime lord and has connections.
OHMSS is back to basics for Bond. No gadgets, in fact, going undercover as Sir Hilary Bray meant leaving the gadgets and gun behind. With a new Bond, it’s a chance to show another side of Bond. The 007s of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan all paid respect to Tracy in one way or another during their time. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a key film in the EON continuity, despite Lazenby only being a one-time Bond.