In January 1962, Sean Connery donned the James Bond costume for the very first time when the first claps were given on the set of “Dr. No”. A look back at the first of twenty-five 007 films, with expert Laurent Perriot.
1. Sean Connery on the set of “Dr. No”
© JLPPA / Bestimage
And for the very first time, his name was Bond, James Bond. Apart from the little-known Casino Royale of 1954, it was in 1962 that the most famous secret agent really came to life on screen. It’s January 16, and Sean Connery takes his first steps as 007, in front of Terence Young’s camera, in James Bond 007 vs. Dr. No.
While the franchise and Daniel Craig offered a new end to the character in Dying can wait last year, a look back at the birth of James Bond in the cinema with expert Laurent Perriot (www.facebook.com/LaurentPerriotOfficial), co-founder of the James Bond fan club in France in 1989 and author of the books Good Kisses of the World (2020) and The cult replicas of the Saga Bond (2021). An interview in 007 questions, of course.
DashFUN: We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the start of the filming of “Dr. No”. What do we know about the media coverage of this event at the time? Was it precisely an event or a “lambda” film?
Laurent Perriot: “Great!” enthused Ian Fleming at the London premiere. The spectators will follow with the same joy. James Bond 007 vs. Dr. No is perceived as a film that dusts off the spy films of the 1930s.
How was Sean Connery chosen for the role?
It was Dana Broccoli, wife of Cubby Broccoli, who was the first to suggest Sean Connery for the role of James Bond after seeing him in the Disney film Darby O’Gill and the Sprites. She is the source of his choice. For the role of Dr. No, Ian Fleming first asked his friends and a resident of Jamaica, Noel Coward, to play the character. All refused. Christopher Lee, a distant cousin of Fleming, also turned down the role, although he would later play Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. Terence Young, meanwhile, would have loved Cary Crant.
How did “Dr. No” already lay all the foundations for what will make the James Bond franchise?
Before being considered as the beginning of a franchise, this first part establishes a formula: luxury, exoticism, glamour, adventure and action. James Bond 007 vs. Dr. No also incorporates geopolitical tensions: the scenario makes the action, contrary to the usual narratives of the genre. And from the credits – a stylized creation by Maurice Binder -, the iconography is in place: Bond seen in the barrel of a revolver, he shoots, blood covers the screen, female silhouettes and dreamlike images appear.. This iconography will become emblematic. Another ingredient, the immediate use of the main musical theme, an instrumental score written by Monty Norman, arranged and re-orchestrated by John Barry. Without forgetting the incredible perspectives of Ken Adam’s sets.
Among the cult sequences of the film, there is obviously Ursula Andress / Honey Rider coming out of the water. What do we know behind the scenes of this scene?
Its appearance literally marked the history of cinema, becoming a cult scene, immediately injected into the Western collective unconscious. It is a plan freely inspired by The birth of Venus by Botticelli. The James Bond Girl myth was born… To create this legendary piece, Ursula Andress and costume designer Tessa Prendergast worked together: the bikini consists of a bra tied on the chest and a triangle, all in ivory cotton. The particularity of this very simple two-piece: a belt fitted on the hips and a notch on the side to support a dagger. This detail gives literal meaning to the concept of femme fatale. The beach where Honey Rider appears emerging from the water, adjoining Ian Fleming’s estate (baptized GoldenEye) and indicated to the film crew by Chris Blackwell, will later be renamed ‘James Bond Beach’.
Ian Fleming died in 1964, two years after the film was released. Was he able to visit the set?
Yes, Ian Fleming largely attended the filming of the film in Jamaica (where he otherwise resided). He saw and
liked the movie. He also attended and saw the next one, Kisses from Russia. He also visited the set of the third James Bond film, Goldfinger, but died before seeing the film.
As a 007 expert, did you have the opportunity to meet veterans of this first shoot? What memories do they keep?
I had the chance to meet Terence Young at home in Cannes for a…