October 5, 2018:

On October 5, 1962 the London Pavilion at Piccadilly Circus hosted the premiere of “Dr. No”. The film had an amazing sense of style, pulsating action and memorable characters most notably, James Bond. The British intelligence agent is the quintessential man that men want to be and that women want to be with. Bond’s character was unique in that his ruthless actions were forgiven by the audience as were his many trysts with female secret agents. Sean Connery played the role masterfully and actors playing Bond in subsequent movies owe their fat paychecks to the man who set the tone. 

Producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman along with director Terence Young used Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” as the movie’s template. Remarkably their budget for “Dr. No” was only $1M.  While doing reasonably well at the box office the movie’s lasting value was to establish momentum for the Bond Series beginning with “Goldfinger” in 1964 and enduring today.

Casting James Bond
The producers wanted an actor willing to make a multi-film commitment to the projected series. Their first choice, Cary Grant would only agree to one film and second choice James Mason would commit to only two. The producers considered Trevor Howard, Stewart Granger, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. Steve Reeves, star of several gladiator movies turned down the role as did Patrick McGoohan.
Author Ian Fleming’s choice was David Niven, who Fleming had met while serving in British Naval Intelligence. Fleming objected to Connery’s casting, believing the working- class Scot couldn’t play the classically educated Bond.  The producers liked the rugged yet graceful aura of the former Mr. Universe finalist.  It wasn’t until after watching the premiere that Fleming conceded Connery was the right choice. It’s very possible that without Connery’s brilliant portrayal of Bond, the series would have been short-lived.

Ursula Andress
Ursula Andress was born and raised in Switzerland. At 17, she ran away from her boarding school.to work as a model in Rome. At 19, she moved to Hollywood and began an affair with married actor John Derek. He abandoned his family and eloped with Andress in 1957.
Andress was cast as Honey Ryder because she fit Broccoli’s description of “an unknown who wouldn’t demand an outrageous salary”. Two weeks before filming started the producers saw a photograph of Andress in a wet t-shirt. She was hired without an interview for a salary of $6,000. “Dr. No” catapulted her career and caused bikini sales to skyrocket. She received the Golden Globe Award for Best Newcomer in 1964.

Casting the Villain
Fleming wanted his cousin, Christopher Lee to play the villain but Lee would have to wait until 1974 when he was cast as Scaramanga in “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Max von Sydow turned down the role of Dr. No in order to play Christ in “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. He eventually played a Bond villain in “Never Say Never Again”. The role of Dr. No went to renowned stage actor, Joseph Wiseman. The thespian later remarked that he was proud to be the first Bond villain but preferred to be remembered for his stage career.


Because Connery is morbidly afraid of spiders, stuntman Bob Simmons needed to take the star’s place in bed after the initial takes. Simmons stated it was the scariest stunt he ever performed.

The U.S. release was delayed because of the political atmosphere generated by the Cuban Missile Crisis. “From Russia With Love” premiered one month prior to President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and “Dr. No” was eventually released in the U.S. in 1964.

Jack Lord played the rather forgettable CIA agent, Felix Leiter but that didn’t dissuade Lord from demanding equal billing with Connery for “Goldfinger”.  Lord was written out of “Goldfinger”, but he won the award for most delusional two-bit actor (Sorry “Hawaii Five-0” fans).

Lord went on to audition for the role of Captain Kirk on “Star Trek”. When Lord demanded an outrageous salary and the title of co-producer, the studio heads said, “Hit the Road Jack” and cast William Shatner.

Andress’ only child, Dimitri Hamlin was born in 1980. The father was her long- time lover Harry Hamlin. Dimitri’s godfather is Sean Connery.

Have a great weekend and make sure your martini is shaken not stirred.

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