Dr. No Intro Poster - For Dr. No, this is one of the publicity posters used to promote the movie. Also, you will hear the theme song music first associated with the EON Production James Bond films! EON created a masterpiece and a James Bond franchise that has thrived for decade. And Dr. No is the first film they produced.
Our Dr. No Poster AnalysisBy 1962 when the film version of Dr. No is released, Ian Fleming’s books featuring the cold war secret agent and Bon Vivant, James Bond were all the rage. The public was hot for a no holds barred film that would introduce a real flesh and blood Bond. The film poster for Dr. No features Bond as the dominant figure slightly off-center with a smoking gun in one hand and the signature sixties symbol of cool, a cigarette in the other, signifying a controlled relaxed man of action. The bright yellow background is like intense sunshine referring not only to the movie’s exotic tropical Jamaican locale, which is further depicted by the simple inset line drawing of palm trees, but also to the heat of passion promised by the four sexy female figures each in various stages of undress and striking provocative poses. The presumed title character of Dr. No is mysteriously cut in half and barely makes it on to the poster’s left edge. It is clear that he is not the hero of this film in spite of the name. Interestingly the evil Dr. No is dressed in white while Bond is in a very dark blue suit which belies the standard code of cinema that the good guy always wears white while the villain is traditionally in black. As such, this signals the upside down and unpredictable world of espionage where things are not always what they seem. Therefore, it is impossible to rely on your previous experiences. The bright red text shouts out what is possibly one the shortest movie titles of all time and announcing the all-important fact that this is THE FIRST JAMES BOND FILM!
Ian Fleming on the PosterNote Ian Fleming’s name is also in red making the point that this is based on his already well-known books and setting the stage for his branding empire. There are few films particularly up to this time that feature the book author’s name. In most cases, you will be lucky to find a short line in the credits that says something like “Based on a book by…” Saying that a movie is based on a book is a signal that this film has an added level of sophistication and worthiness. It might be action-adventure and it might be sexy but it is based on literature. This is an important distinction in this time of changing morality of the 1960s and the changing morality in film. It might also be argued in this case that it is based on what many considered a book in the realm of pulp fiction. And so, in that way promised to be a little edgier or forbidden. Men wanted to see sexy women on the big screen. And women wanted to be the desired liberated and strong women Fleming portrayed.
The Women On the PosterIt’s important to note the women in this poster are not victims or being controlled in any way. The posture of the second figure from the right is a classic power pose. She is using her sexuality to lure you towards her but she is not cowering or submissive. The next figure almost dead center is barely nude with her back toward you but very much aware of who is behind her and again is drawing you toward her and very much in control. The sexy two-piece white bikini worn by Ursula Andress will become the iconic symbol of the sexual revolution. And was quite scandalous at this time. But again notice her hip thrust out indicates that she is in charge of her body and the situation. The poster designer Mitchell Hooks manages to give the budding film star, Sean Connery, prominence though he is still dominated by the author Fleming. Note he is billed as playing the part of “007” a man referred to as a number which was a symbol of the nascent computer age. Is the number seven lucky? Maybe so. It is important to keep in mind that for many theatergoers this was their first introduction to this man, James Bond. And he will become an icon and a symbol of cold war espionage, as well as the symbol of the post-WWII “modern” male . And, soon to be movie icon.
Thanks to our Colleague Reno LovisonSpyMovieNavigator would like to thank our colleague, Reno Lovison, for this comprehensive poster analysis. Reno does video production and podcasts on a variety of topics and can be found at renoweb.net. And we’d like to add a couple more notes:
- Ian Fleming’s novels in 1962 were experiencing huge growth in popularity in the United States. Why? Because President Kennedy at that time included From Russia With Love as one of his favorite Top 10 novels! So interest in James Bond was high, and now, here comes No!
- On another note, 1962 was just before the large explosion of the sexual revolution in the US and world. Countries like Ireland had problems with this poster and required changes to be made – like putting a black dress on Honey Rider, and covering up the other Bond Girls on the poster one way or another. There is a nice book entitled: James Bond Movie Posters – The Official 007 Collection by Tony Nourmand. The edition we have goes from No to Die Another Day.