A script developed by producer Kevin McClory, screenwriter Jack Whittingham and novelist Ian Fleming, reportedly titled "James Bond, Secret Agent" was originally going to be the first James Bond movie, but Fleming caused legal problems before any production could begin by writing and publishing what he thought of as 'the book to the movie' without consulting the others. This novel was published in 1961, titled "Thunderball" by Fleming, and resulted in legal action by McClory. This legal action tied up rights to the script and story, and made McClory's participation problematic, so Dr. No wound up being chosen instead. The Thunderball plot was eventually used for the fourth Bond movie. Subsequent editions of the novel "Thunderball" carry a credit for McClory and Whittingham, and McClory eventually saw the original concept more or less produced under the title Never Say Never Again.
Author Ian Fleming wanted his cousin Christopher Lee to play Dr. No. (Lee would later appear as Scaramanga in the 007 flick The Man with the Golden Gun, and would play the character that inspired Fleming to create Dr. No, Dr. Fu Manchu, in several films.) Fleming also asked Noel Coward to play the part of Dr. No. Coward turned down the part by replying with a telegram that read, "Dr. No? No! No! No!" One of Coward's objections was having to wear metal hands. Max von Sydow turned down the part in order to play Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told, and would finally play a Bond villain in Never Say Never Again. The role went to Joseph Wiseman, the only early Bond villain not to have his voice dubbed by another actor.
This was chosen to be the inaugural film in the James Bond series as the plot of the source novel was the most straightforward. It had only one major location (Jamaica) and only one big special effects set piece.
Vehicles featured included the swamp vehicle Dragon Tank at Crab Key; a marine blue 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Series 5 Sports Tourer convertible II Tiger rental car which James Bond drives whilst being tailed by a pre-war Packard LaSalle hearse; Bond rides in a taxi driven by Mr. Jones which is a black 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible; a motorboat; Mk II Ford consul taxi; Quarrel's boat; an Austin A55 Cambridge and a Ford Zephyr.
As detailed as Dr No's underwater lair was, one vital element was very nearly forgotten - background plates of fish swimming in the sea to be added to the thick-glass window. The necessary film was quickly found among library footage the day before the scene was to be filmed. When it turned out the footage featured extreme close-ups of fish, it was decided to have Dr. No explain that the window works as a magnifying glass
Marguerite LeWars, who plays Freelance, was working as a flight attendant when Terence Young approached her with the age-old line "Would you like to be in movies?" Lewars' brother-in-law Reggie Carter played Jones the chauffeur, the first villain encountered by James Bond in this series.
Sean Connery won the role of James Bond after producer Albert R. Broccoli attended a screening of Darby O'Gill and the Little People. He was particularly impressed with the fist fight Connery has with a village bully at the climax of the film. Broccoli later had his wife Dana Broccoli see the film and confirm his sex appeal. Still, for publicity purposes there was a contest to find the perfect man to play James Bond. Six finalists were chosen and screen-tested by Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and Ian Fleming. The winner was a 28-year-old model called Peter Anthony who looked the part but completely lacked the acting technique to play it.
According to Inside 'Dr. No', the introduction of the James Bond character utilizes a technique which is a homage to the 1939 William Dieterle film, Juarez starring Paul Muni. This technique is performed using a series of close-ups of the character without revealing the face, cross-cutting with the other characters in the scene and the gambling table. Finally, the face of the person is revealed, stating his name, "Bond, James Bond."
The aquarium in the Fairmont Hamilton Hotel's Gazebo Bar in Bermuda was reportedly the inspiration for Dr. No's aquarium, itself later inspiring the aquarium in Stromberg's lair in The Spy Who Loved Me.
It is long standing misconception that John Barry wrote "The James Bond Theme". It actually originated from a song, "Good Sign, Bad Sign" composed by Monty Norman, from an aborted musical, "The House of Mr. Biswas". Barry arranged and orchestrated Norman's theme to produce the theme as it is known throughout the world.
The location of the classic scene where Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) walks out of the sea and meets James Bond (Sean Connery) was Laughing Waters Beach on the Laughing Water Estate owned by Mrs. Minnie Simpson in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica. Mrs. Simpson had been a fan of the Ian Fleming James Bond novels.
The armorer who gives Bond his Walther PPK at the start of the film is Major Boothroyd, who in the next film, From Russia with Love would be played by Desmond Llewelyn. Beginning with Goldfinger, the "armorer" would forever be known as "Q" (for "Quartermaster"). The character of Boothroyd, also appears in Ian Fleming's original Dr. No novel. He is named for Geoffrey Boothroyd, who wrote to Fleming complaining about Bond's use of a Beretta in the early Bond books and recommending Bond use a Walther PPK instead. This detail was included in the novel and later included in this film, establishing part of the Bond legend. Q is based loosely on Charles Fraser-Smith, who designed spy gadgets called "Q-devices" (named for Q-ships, the Royal Navy's disguised warships of World War One) for MI-6.
Ian Fleming wrote the story of Dr. No in 1956 for an episode of a never-produced TV series, "James Gunn Secret Agent". The working titles were "Commander Jamaica" and "The Wound Man." Fleming later expanded the story treatment into the sixth James Bond novel, basing Doctor No on Sax Rohmer's Doctor Fu Manchu.
Sean Connery is morbidly afraid of spiders. The shot of the spider in his bed was originally done with a sheet of glass between him and the spider, but when this didn't look realistic enough, the scene was re-shot with stuntman Bob Simmons. Simmons reported that the tarantula crawling over Bond was the scariest stunt he had ever performed. According to Steven Jay Rubin's 1981 book "The James Bond Films", this tarantula was named Rosie.
A Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington, stolen in 1961, is found on an easel next to the stairs in Dr. No's dining area, which is why Bond stops to notice it as he passes it while going up the stairs. It was recovered in 1965.
Maurice Binder designed the gun barrel opening at the last minute, by pointing a pinhole camera through a real gun barrel. The actor in the sequence is not Connery, but stuntman Bob Simmons. Connery didn't film the sequence himself until Thunderball.
The famous pose of Sean Connery holding a gun across his chest had to be redone at the last second. The Walther PPK was left at the studio, but the photographer had an old air pistol in his car. The gun in the picture is the air pistol
Location manager Chris Blackwell (who was uncredited) was later the founder of Island Records. He is also the son of Blanche Blackwell who was neighbor, friend and lover of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. He makes a cameo in the film as the tall blond man dancing at Puss Feller's club. Blackwell would later own Ian Fleming's Goldeneye estate after 1977 - one of its previous owners was reggae musician Bob Marley.
Product placements, brand integrations and promotional tie-ins seen in the movie included Turnbull & Aser tailoring; Pan Am Airlines; Rolex Watches, James Bond wears a Rolex Submariner; Dom Perignon Champagne; Red Stripe Beer; Black & White Scotch, BOAC Airlines and Smirnoff Vodka including Smirnoff Blue and Smirnoff Red.
In the source novel, the full names of Honey Ryder and Doctor No are Honeychile Rider and Doctor Julius No. Honeychile is the last surviving member of an old sugar plantation family, and was raised by the family servants. The freelance photographer is named Annabelle Chung. Puss-Feller's name means he wrestled an octopus, but the film changes this to an alligator, rendering the name meaningless. The Professor was not named Dent and was not a villain. Strangways and Quarrel were old friends of Bond (from the Live and Let Die novel). There was no evil chauffeur and no Felix Leiter (the latter was in other novels).
During the initial briefing, M says that he recently was put in charge of MI7. Bernard Lee originally said MI6 during the take, but this has been overdubbed, possibly for fear of offending the real-life organization. In later Bond films, however, 007 clearly works for MI6.
The first scene Sean Connery filmed as James Bond is the sequence in the Kingston Airport where he passes a female photographer and throws a hat in front of his face. The filming date was 16 January 1962.
The initial reason that MI6 launches an investigation, mysterious radio interference being picked up at Cape Canaveral, isn't as far out of the question as one might think. A memorandum to the Pentagon in the year the film was released, reported unusually heavy radio emissions from Cuba, and that if John Glenn's upcoming orbit of the Earth were to fail, a case could successfully made (whether true or not) of Cuban sabotage.
John Stears was asked to help with the miniatures. He only a budget of £1000 for the effect of the destruction of Dr. No's Fortress. In the next Bond outing Stears took over as Special Effects Supervisor
Ian Fleming didn't originally like the casting of Sean Connery as James Bond. Bond was English and Connery was Scottish, Bond was upper-class and Connery was working-class, Bond was refined and educated and Connery was too rugged. After seeing the film, Fleming softened and decided that Connery was perfectly cast. In the novel "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," Bond was revealed to have Scottish ancestry and Bond's girlfriend Tracy Vicenzo was described with Ursula Andress' details. Ironically, in the movie version of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond and Tracy are played by George Lazenby and Diana Rigg who do not fit these descriptions.
The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include Licence to Kill / Agent 007: Licence to Kill (Italy); James Bond Versus Dr. No (Belgium & France); Dr. No: Mission-Killing / Agent 007 - Mission: Kill Dr. No (Denmark); James Bond Chases Dr. No (Germany); Dr. No: 007 Is The Killing Number (Japan); Agent 007 With A Licence To Kill (Sweden); Agent 007 Versus Dr. No (Spain); James Bond, Agent 007 Against Dr. No (Greece); 007 Seized The Secret Island (China); 007 - The Secret Agent (Portugal); 007 And Dr. No (Finland) and 007 Against The Satanic Dr. No (Brazil & Spanish-speaking South America). In Japan the translators first interpreted the title as "Dr.? No!" and produced posters with a translation that meant "We don't want a doctor". The mistake was discovered at the last moment.
Sean Connery was originally rejected as James Bond by United Artists. The studio cabled producer Harry Saltzman of this information. However, UA later rescinded this decision and agreed with the producers' casting choice.
In the original novel, the scene in which Bond escapes "imprisonment" worked a little differently - Dr. No had actually had an obstacle course set up to challenge Bond. At the end of the obstacle course there was a seaside cage, with a giant squid inside. The film altered and toned down all of this, and the "obstacle course" idea got lost in the translation from novel to film. In the following scene, a sequence involving Honey Rider being tied to the ground and attacked by a swarm of crabs was scrapped because many of the crustaceans arrived frozen, dead and damaged. In the film as shown, water was the threat instead.
The white bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the movie was sold by her at Christie's Auctions in London on 14 February 2001 for 35,000 UK pounds. It was purchased by Robert Earl of Planet Hollywood and with commission and tax fees, the total was actually around 41,000 UK pounds. Before the auction, the bikini had been estimated to fetch 40,000 UK pounds.
Ursula Andress' dialog was looped by voice artist Nikki Van der Zyl. It was her task to recreate Andress' voice but give it only a mild accent. Andress' singing voice was dubbed by Diana Coupland. Both Andress and Eunice Gayson were dubbed by the same actress. Gayson's real voice can be heard on the theatrical trailers for the film, included on the DVD release.
United Artists executives were first screened a print of the film at 10:00 am one morning with Arthur Krim in attendance. When the movie finished around midday, there was a silence at the end of the screening. The European head exec stated that the only good thing about the picture was that they couldn't lose with it with only a budget of about $(US)840,000. Producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli were shaken and stirred.
Two weeks before filming was due to start, the part of Honey Ryder was still to be cast. The producers then saw a photograph that actor John Derek had taken of his wife, Ursula Andress, and offered her the part without even meeting her. Some sources claim that the photograph allegedly featured Andress in a wet T-shirt competition. Andress, who wasn't overly interested in acting at the time, only agreed to do it when family friend Kirk Douglas read the script and urged her to take it on.
The first-ever day of filming at England's Pinewood Studios for both Dr. No and the EON Productions James Bond series was on Monday, 26 February 1962. The first take was Slate 310 at 11.25 am on Stage D. The scene was in M's office and featured Bernard Lee, Peter Burton and Sean Connery. Many of the cast and crew including director Terence Young had been late arriving on set due to harsh cold and inclement weather.
There is a longstanding rumor that in the early drafts of the script, Dr. No turned out to be a monkey. When first approached by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, screenwriters Wolf Mankowitz and Richard Maibaum discarded most of the source material and wrote a story treatment about a shipping magnate called Buchwald attempting to blow up the Panama Canal. Dr. No was a monkey god worshiped on the island, and the villain kept a capuchin monkey as a pet. Broccoli and Saltzman told them to try again and this time stick more closely to the source material. Mankowitz was dissatisfied with the script and had his name removed from the credits. He later co-wrote the James Bond parody film Casino Royale, which co-starred Ursula Andress, who played Honey Ryder in Dr. No.
For a long time, this film was tied with Goldfinger as the shortest James Bond movie in the EON Productions official series, with a running time of 111 minutes. Quantum of Solace is now the shortest at 106 minutes.
The World Premiere of Dr. No was held on 5th October 1962 at the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London. The launch of the first ever James Bond film in a cinema was attended by Sean Connery, Zena Marshall and James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
According to the film's CD Soundtrack sleeve notes, the James Bond theme debuted in the UK charts on 1st November 1962 where it peaked at No. #13. It entered the US charts on 27 July 1963 where it went to No. #82. Two pieces of music heard in the film are not included on the film's soundtrack. These are the electronic sound effects music at the very beginning of the film and the suspenseful music from the tarantula sequence.
The gun Bond puts the silencer on at Miss Taro's house is not his famous PPK. It's a FN 1910 easily distinguishable by the FN logo on the grip. The reason is that the prop department couldn't get a silencer fitting the PPK.
Dr. No was resurrected in 'Hot-Shot,' the daily James Bond newspaper strip. The strips were based on the Ian Fleming novels, not the films, so the character survived being buried in guano rather than his fall into the reactor vat. In the 'Dr. No' strip, No had metal pincers for hands (as in the novel) but in 'Hot-Shot,' the pincers have been replaced with mechanical hands more similar to the film version of the character.
The novel 'Dr. No' was Ian Fleming's follow-up to From Russia with Love. The movie scene of Bond getting his Walther is very similar to the corresponding scene in the book. When M says that Bond's Beretta "jammed" on him "last job," he was referring to Bond's mission to recover the Spektor (called "Lektor" in the film) decoder.
Samuel J. Friedman, head of the national publicity for United Artists, hired glamor model Bunny Yeager to photograph Ursula Andress on location in Jamaica during filming. Between takes and during camera set-ups, Yeager would take Andress to one side and photograph her amongst nature.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Dent shot "Bond" (actually pillows in bed) six times. After some plot point explanation by Bond, Dent lurches for his gun, but it's empty, hence the Bond line, "That's a Smith and Wesson, and you've had your six." As a kind of payback coda, Bond shoots Dent once, and Dent flips off the bed onto the floor. Bond then fires five more rounds into Dent's back. Censors scaled this back to two total shots, with just one to the back. Reportedly a second version of the scene was filmed, but not in the final film, showing Dent firing off one last bullet before being shot down by Bond. This actually explains why Dent is shown firing a seven-shooter, rather than a six-shooter.