Agent 007 of the British Secret Service is sent to the Caribbean to investigate the death of a fellow agent. The clues lead to a mysterious scientist called Dr No - but there's more going on than one simple disappearance
The beginning of the super-successful franchise, this remains one of the most satisfying Bond films. Connery, with only a hint of irony, is the suave secret agent, introduced at a gaming table while lighting an expensive fag, enjoying an expense account Caribbean holiday that must have seemed like unparalleled hedonism to British audiences who’d only just got over rationing.
The license to kill gets several endorsements as Bond efficiently and brutally sees off dastardly baddies who are threatening world peace, and – in another fantastical touch – Britain holds the key to the balance of power.
Dr No, a German-Japanese genius with metal hands, is about as credible as Fu Manchu, but Joseph Wiseman mints all the Bond villain clichés, from the gorgeously-designed island lair (courtesy art director Ken Adam) with built-in nuclear power plant (and a then-famously-stolen portrait of the Duke of Wellington hung on the wall) through to purred threats and attempts to convince 007 to sell out and join his evil organisation (‘I thought you had some style, Mr Bond, but I see you’re just a stupid policeman’). And, of course, there’s Ursula Andress as prototypical Bond girl Honey Ryder, emerging from the seas in a bikini with a knife strapped to her thigh, with her own reasons for wanting to see Dr No’s scheme for world conquest thwarted.
That twangy guitar theme and the gunsight-iris titles sequence are in place already. Series regulars Bernard Lee (M) and Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny) make their debuts, but Peter Burton plays Q (to be replaced by Desmond Llewellyn) and Jack Lord is CIA agent Felix Leiter (to be replaced by a succession of stooges).
With a debut like this, it's no wonder that it spawned one of the biggest franchises ever.