Becoming a synonym to the iconic British spy James Bond 007 had been a tough journey for late actor Sean Connery
The 60s could easily be dubbed as the era which hastened the process of polarization between world superpowers. Soviet Russia signed a treaty with Cuba and successfully created a stir on the world stage. Apart from bringing the world on the verge of a nuclear war, it also marked the beginning of the Cold War. Amidst these world defining events, the character of James Bond (Sean Connery) appeared first on screens on 5th October in the UK (US cinemagoers could only see the film a year later on 10th Oct 1963) in Dr No.
It is believed that half of the world population has seen a James Bond film. The longest film franchisee owned by Wilson/Broccoli in the history of cinema has so far managed to captivate audience by showcasing 55 Bond girls, 130 villains, 50 country tours, over 100 variety of guns apart from numerous cars in addition to its thrilling stories.
Watch: Dr. No Official Trailer #1 – Sean Connery Movie
Dr No: Beginning of the British Spy Franchise
Dr. No – the first film in the series is about a British agent who goes to Jamaica in search of his colleague after his sudden disappearance. The agent’s disappearance strings are connected to a US space program. On reaching Jamaica, James Bond learns that the agent aka Dr. Julius, who now has made an island as his abode, has nefarious intentions and wants to destroy everything.
The film upon its release turned out to be such a huge success that it earned sixteen times its cost at the box office.
The behind the scene story of Dr. No is far more interesting than the actual story. The James Bond franchisee was supposed to make its cinematic foray with Ian Fleming’s ninth story Thunderball but a legal battle with Irish screenwriter and co-writer Kevin McClory ensured that the honours went to Dr. No – the sixth novel in the Bond series.
But the real surprise about the casting of Dr. No concerns Sean Connery, now synonymous with the character and believed to be the best James Bond ever to grace the screens.
Sean Connery was not the first 007 choice of the producers of the film.
Cary Grant, James Mason, Peter Sellers, Gregory Peck and David Niven were first invited to become Bond. While Cary refused to sign a contract saying that he would be required to play Bond in more than one movie, James Mason refused the role on the ground that he was willing to act in only two films of the three-film contract. It is said that Ian Fleming was interested in casting his cousin Christopher Lee as the villain and British actor David Niven as James Bond in the film.
How Connery’s Iconic 007 Stint Came To Be
Before the release of Dr. No, Sean Connery was just a regular unknown actor of the British film industry. For the role of James Bond, the makers of the film even tried to find their lead actor through ‘Find James Bond Contest’ and Sean Connery was not even a participant. The eventual winner of the contest was Peter Anthony and it only dawned upon later on the makers of the film that Peter was devoid of the qualities that are integral to Bond.
Sean could land the film thanks to his performance in an earlier film titled Darby O’Gill and the Little People. While watching the film, it was during the film’s climax, producer Albert Broccoli realised that he has found his Bond. The sequence which convinced him was a fight scene which was more of a hand-to-hand combat with the villain. Now to confirm if his Bond had sex appeal or not, he also showed the film to his wife. The answer came in an affirmative.
The Challenges of Making The first Bond Film
Despite the lead star being locked, there were still more troubles the film was yet to encounter. It was believed that after the announcement of the film, studios would open their chest for the film – but nothing of such sort happened. It was beyond expectation. United Artists initially refused to put money in the film because of its sexual nature. The studio also had issues with the casting of Sean Connery in the role of James Bond but Albert Broccoli salvaged the situation by convincing them.
Ursula Andress was Honey Ryder in the film, also the Bond girl. The film’s producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Salztman were not supposed to spend much money for the role of Bond girl. They decided to sign Ursula for the film when they saw a picture of Ursula in a wet T-shirt. Ursula was given $6000 to work for Dr. No.
Nonetheless, when the film released, it proved to be a bonanza for the producers. Despite the success, British media did not have any good words to say about this film. When its review was published in the famous magazine Spectator, it totalled just 50 words. It was worth noting that the critic Ian Cameron did not write the name of any artist associated with the film in his review.
Furthermore, since Sean Connery, seven actors have taken up the role of the iconic British spy viz David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Each unique in his approach but none like him.
Today, James Bond is waiting for its 25th iteration to be played by Daniel Craig in No Time Die. Furthermore, actors like Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy are among the top contenders to take forward Sean Connery’s James Bond legacy.