Dr. No Title Sequence

Dr. No Title Sequence  – Dr. No, EON Productions first James Bond film based on Ian Fleming’s sixth James Bond 007 novel gets a big YES from movie-goers at the time of release in 1962.  It has been a staple of Bond films ever since.   Dr. No is Dr. Yes for spy movie fans, and new spy movie fans who are focused on Bourne and Mission: Impossible and more recent Bond films with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, would enjoy going back to the first James Bond film, Dr. No, to which, we think, they will also say Yes!

A Quick Dr. No Movie Summary:

  • There’s a disappearance of a British agent and his secretary in Jamaica
  • Bond is sent to investigate
  • Discovers Dr. No and plan to interfere with American missile launches
  • We learn of SPECTRE for the first time and of the ensuing events

When released in 1962, the US and Soviet Union were in the cold war.   Each country suspicious and in fear that the other might develop more nuclear weapons than the other, attain nuclear superiority and strike first.

So this is what was really happening in the world,  and selecting Dr. No as the first Fleming novel to turn into a film – dealing with American missile launches, was topical.   Fear of inter-continental ballistic missile raining down on your hometown was a real fear.  The US was behind in the space race, as the Soviets continued to be steps ahead.

But great distances between the countries offered some solace.   Ian Fleming’s “Dr. No” novel was written in 1958 (a year after the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space, Sputnik).   The movie began shooting in January 1962 –a mere 10 months before The Cuban Missile Crisis (October 16 – 28 1962).  That crisis was about bringing Soviet missiles with warheads to Cuba – just 90 miles from the US coast.   Keep in mind, Dr. No was released in the UK on October 5, 1962 – less than two weeks before the Cuban Missile Crisis, and in the US in May 1963.

So the real world served as a backdrop to fuel the interest in the film, Dr. No, because nuclear war, missile development and deployment, and the ability to attack with missiles were top-of-mind.

The Title Sequence Clip

The title sequence, created by Maurice Binder, who passed away in 1991, is one of the staples of James Bond 007 EON Production movies.   This brilliant title sequence is known and recognized throughout the world.

In the first several Bond films, the man in the gun barrel whop turns and faces the audiences and fires is not the actor who plays James Bond, but a stunt guy, Bob Simmons.  We also hear the iconic Monty Norman James Bond music for the first time here, in Dr. No.

As you watch the title sequence, you will also see the double dots or circles appear for the first time.  We look at those as either bullet holes, which they will be in future movies like EON Production’s Casino Royale, or look at them as the 00 in 007.

This sequence also shows the almost psychedelic nature of the presentation, with flashing circles and flashing Dr. No in many colors – very 1960s, but still very cool.  We hear some odd opening music screeches, then the iconic Bond music, then we move to the colorful silhouettes as the music moves to island music, to get us ready for Jamaica.  As it transitions into the three blind men walking down a Kingston Jamaica street, the well-known music of “Three Blind Mice” is playing.  The roots of this tune go back to King Henry VIII and Queen Mary I, who became known as “Bloody Mary,” and the persecution of protestants.  The three main leaders of the Church of England,  Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer – the architects of the movement under Henry VIII – were burned at the stake by Bloody Mary.   So, the history of violence in the tune foreshadows the role these three blind mice will play in Dr. No, and their flaming end when the hearse they are in chasing Bond crashes off a cliff and burns.   Three Blind Mice.    Wow.

Great start in this Dr. No Title Sequence to James Bond brought to the big screen!

Three Blind Mice and the Death of Strangways

Three Blind Mice and the Death of Strangways – In the title sequence, with the exotic setting in Jamaica,  we are immediately intrigued with the opening scene, with the words Dr. No flashing on and off the screen in green, purple, red, blue, and the transition to the colorful silhouettes of dancing women with island music playing.  It’s very 60s but at the time was very cool!

Then we see three blind men walking the streets in Jamaica, and we don’t know what to make of them.  The tune “Three Blind Mice” is playing while we see them walking, which makes us think we should pay attention because maybe these three blind men are important.   We just assume they are part of the scene, background figures, but yet there they are.  And the camera spends a lot of time on them, following them as they “blindly” make their way down streets and finally to the Queen’s Club (Private Members Only).

Perhaps they are members of this private club?   Ah, can’t be as they are all carrying their tin cups for people to drop coins into for them.   This is the club where Strangways plays cards each evening, then leaves at about 6 pm so he can do his reporting into MI6 with his secretary at his place.   Then he could return to cards.   Strangways is dressed is a white, linen suit, and the surroundings are peaceful, tranquil, elegant and high-society.  Makes us wish we had lives like that.  So nice!

Three Blind Mice Not So Blind – The Death of Strangways

These three blind men play a critical role in the entire Dr. No story, as they are responsible for two very key deaths in the plotline and are the reason James Bond ends up in Jamaica.  Here is the set-up for the death of Strangways, the MI6 operative in Jamaica.

So in the film, we see Strangways excusing himself, as he always does at 6 PM, and exiting.  So this is routine, but we don’t know if the three blind men outside the club are routine.  Strangways is walking towards his car and must pass the three blind men.

He takes some coins out and throws them in the cup of the first blind mice with the red hat on, then proceeds to open the door of his car.   When he turns and opens his car door, we find out a great deal about these three men.   All three of them turn and shoot Strangways with pistols equipped with silencers.  No one else is around to see them.   Then they grab his body and throw it in a hearse which speeds around the corner driven by an accomplice.

We will see this hearse again!

Mary Trueblood, Strangways Secretary

In the next scene of this clip, you see the Strangways mailbox.  Then the same three men break in, kill Strangways’ secretary, rummage through his files and take the folders entitled, “Crab Key” and “Dr. No.”

The second clip we selected here goes into more detail of the secretary murder.   Keep in mind, Strangways is the MI6 operative in Jamaica and has been investigating Dr. No.  Bond now is being called in to investigate the Strangways and secretary murders, and to see if there is some connection between these, Dr. No, and the interference with American missile launches.

Here you get a better view of Strangways place and more details of the secretary, Mary Trueblood, murder.   We will see Strangways house again as Bond investigates this location later in the film.   Here, his secretary is setting up his call, by saying “W6N  W6N calling G7W.”    G7W is in London.

Then the three blind men strike again and murder her, carrying her body off after retrieving the Crab Key and Dr. No files.   At the 55 second mark, you will see a framed photograph behind one of the three blind men in the background, on a shelf.   This will prove to be an invaluable lead when Bond investigates this location.  One that will lead  him to Quarrel, who plays a major role in the film.

As an aside, the secretary, Mary Trueblood, is played by a local Jamaican, Delores Keator, who actually owned the building they used to shoot these scenes.

The Three Blind Mice Set the Table for Rest of Movie

Three Blind Mice and the Death of Strangways sets us up nicely.  As we see instantly, Dr. No is going to be a captivating film, with murder, intrigue and mystery.

These clips set up the rest of the movie, as now Bond must investigate.  Strangways, though dead, will play an important roll in the film as Bond tries to put the pieces together.  We will see similar scenarios in Live and Let Die, where Bond must investigate the murder of three agents.  And again, we see agents killed in The Living Daylights in Gibraltar, View to A Kill,  Octopussy, and in more Bond movies to come.  We will see similar scenarios in Mission: Impossible, and even the Bourne series.

Three Blind Mice and the Death of Strangways is well shot, well acted and is intriguing to the viewer.

This opening scene with the three blind mice walking was shot on Harbour Street in downtown Kingston, Jamaica.  Where Strangways is killed at Queen’s Club is now Liguanea Club at 80 Knutsford Blvd in Kingston, Jamaica.

Bond’s First Car Chase

Bond’s First Car Chase

We have come to expect car chases and virtually any other kind of chase in spy movies now, and especially in Bond movies.  And, here, we see Bond’s first car chase

Now, in real like this does not happen very much!   We have reached out to the International Spy Museum in Washington DC in the US.  We plan on doing a podcast with them on the very subject of the differences between what happens in spy movies versus what happens in the real world of real spies!   So look for our podcast on that.   In the meantime, there was a great article on July 31 2015 in the online Vanity Fair on this subject.  It’s entitled, “14 Ways Spy Movies Are Nothing Like Real Life” by Julie Miller.  In this piece, the curator of the museum said: “High-speed car chases only happen when the mission goes very, very bad.”    He suggested that it is always better to blend in.

Despite real life, in movies we now expect it.  Here is James Bond’s first real car chase, where he is driving and eluding pursuers.  Here he is driving a lake-blue, English  Sunbeam Alpine Series II.   He is on his way to Miss Taro’s place (played by Zena Marshall) for some fun, but she is in on the plot to eliminate Bond.   So, on the exact way Taro told him to go, he is pursued by another vehicle whose occupants are determined to kill Bond.

Another Chase, and More Chases

This is the hearse that the three blind men loaded Strangways into after they killed him.   So, we assume this is the three blind men once again, and for the last time.   For spy movies, we will see this same concept, of course, repeated over and over again – car chase scenes, and other vehicle chase scenes – trains, helicopters, running.  And it did not begin here, in Dr. No.

Chases are now expected and anticipated in spy movies and will make an appearance in many more Bond films, Bourne, e.g., and more. And there have been chase scenes in spy movies in the more distant past.  Here is a great example:  Brit planes chasing a train with German spies in the 1936 movie Secret Agent and other movies (like Bullit, 1968).   But they are nevertheless still exciting, and somehow the stunts are more and more dramatic.  It is now part of the formula.  In the 2006, Casino Royale by EON Productions, when Bond rolls his Aston Martin DBS V12 while pursuing Vesper Lynd, they achieved a world record of 7 rolls.   It it is a spectacular roll, and this pursuit is believable and contextually made sense.

Fortunately, Bond eludes the pursuers and they crash off a cliff with the what has become the fiery crash scene in many spy movies to come.    Of course, in real life, in general, cars don’t explode and catch fire in a crash.  Even the American TV show, Mythbusters at one time fired bullets directly into the fuel tank of a car.  And . . . nothing happened.   It is possible but unlikely!

Anyway, Miss Taro is surprised when Bond shows up, and she gets a call, they have some fun. Bond fakes car trouble and calls a taxi for them to go out, and she gets her into what she thinks is a taxi, and is taken off by a Bond ally.  After she is out, Bond is cooly awaiting whoever it may be to show up and try to dispose of him   So here it is!


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