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'Dr. No' and the start of James Bond's tired cliches


Looking back at the very first official James Bond film, Dr. No, released in 1962, shows both how far the character has come since the 20th century as well as how inextricably linked he still remains to his original persona. Yes, despite the five actors who have since played the part of James Bond since the tenure of Sean Connery, the iconic character still remains as rigid and misogynistic as ever. But with No Time to Diethe final film of Daniel Craig’s run suggesting a more revolutionary future, we’re looking back at some of the franchise’s unwelcomed beginnings…

Complete with the very first iteration of the gun barrel sequence as well as the first cinematic mention of the terrorist organisation, ‘Spectre’, Dr.No waited no time at all to introduce its audiences to James Bond’s many cliches. In fact, the very first James Bond feature film is a basic skeleton onto which later films plumped out the central 007 character, piling on cliche after cliche, until he became little more than a walking, talking quip-merchant. 

The precursory film to almost 60 years of James Bond history, Dr. No follows the iconic hero tracking down a missing colleague, which leads him to Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), a Chinese-German criminal scientist with a single metal hand. “World domination, same old dream,” Bond utters to the scientist during a particularly sour dinner between the two advisories, a strange self-reflective statement that seems to highlight Bond’s cliches before the series has even started. 

Hilariously highlighted in the very first trailer for Dr. No, James Bond has always been a character of cliche, with the crackly original footage outlining the character’s sharp style before stating, “An essential feature of Mr. Bond’s wardrobe is the pistol in his right hand, it is a Walther PPK”. After providing strict guidelines to his appearance, the trailer then asserts, “Mr. Bond’s profession involves deluxe travel, exotic climes, exclusive clubs” before stating his interest in taking down “atomic scientists” and “mingling” with different types of women. 

From Sean Connery to George Lazenby, Roger Moore to Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig, this same character, featuring the same globetrotting adventures and wild villains, have been consistently pushed out. That was until the release of Casino Royale in 2006. Flouting tradition, Daniel Craig was keen to assert his dominance on the film franchise, providing variations on classic cliches, the most obvious of which being his ‘shaken not stirred moment’. Having delivered a more traditional version of the line earlier in the film, if one laden with particular intricacies, later in the film a bartender asks if he’d like his drink “shaken or stirred?” to which Craig’s Bond replies, “does it look like I give a damn”. 

Strangely, however, despite Casino Royale making changes to the James Bond playbook, its successive film overwrote its progression to return Bond to a suit-wearing, villain-conquering caricature. In retrospect, it seems as though Daniel Craig and Barbara Broccoli never really knew what they wanted a modern Bond to look like, balancing between the corny lightweight tone of Pierce Brosnan’s era and the newfound gritty action hero of the 21st century. 

The finale of No Time to Die suggests, however, that the cliches outlined in Dr. No’s original trailer could soon be coming to an end, finally putting the outdated cliche of the original James Bond character to bed.

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