Dr. No

Dr. No (1962)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Bernard Lee, Joseph Wiseman
Extras: Commentary track, Documentaries, Featurette, Trailers and TV Spots, Still Gallery, Booklet

"Dr. No" is the first disc in the second volume of "The James Bond Collection". It is the 1962 film that started it all. James Bond graced the silver screen for the first time and introduced the world to the British secret agent, masterfully played by Scotsman Sean Connery. Director Terence Young created a vision for the film that was very stylish, tasteful and dynamic, a mix that we would later find repeated in every single installment of the series, even the inofficial 1967 spoof "Casino Royale." Not knowing what impact his film would have, Young managed to create a blend of erotic sensuality, exotic locations, upper class style, superb action, gripping thrills and a memorable adversary for the agent with the license to kill.

James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to investigate a case in Jamaica, where one of the secret service people, Dr. Strangways, has vanished. Upon investigation, Bond finds out that Strangways had been examining the vicinity of a remote island that lies off the shore of Kingston. It is owned by "Dr. No" a man no one seems to know anything about. Bond finds traces of radioactivity that lead to the island. One night he sneaks up to the island in order to find out what "Dr. No" is up to and meets the beautiful seashell collector Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), who knows her way around the island.
The disc contains a good looking 1.78:1 <$PS,widescreen> presentation of the film that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> televisions. Although some signs of the film’s age are evident the transfer is clear and without distracting blemishes. Colors are powerful and natural, restoring the full glory of this first James Bond adventure. Blacks are bold and deep and the DVD shows no signs of compression artifacts.

The disc features monaural <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio tracks in English, French and Spanish. It is here where the movie gives away most of its age, as the frequency response is rather limited, resulting in a thin and harsh sounding presentation. No background noise is noticeable during the presentation for the most part, but some distortion is evident in a number of scenes, especially the beach scenes when Bond first meets Honey Ryder. Also the music presentation shows some signs of distortion, most notably during stingers and powerful crescendi.

As expected, the disc offers a great number of very informative and entertaining features. A <$commentary,commentary track> by director Terence Young and a huge number of cast and crew members is only one of those features. Presented as a series of edited interviews in which the contributors to this track share thoughts, memories and anecdotes about the production of the film, this is not exactly a running commentary as you have come to expect but more of a random anthology of stories about the movie, mostly out of context with what you see on the screen. Nonetheless it is very exciting to hear what all these people have to say about the production, remembering many details vividly even after all these years.

"Inside Dr. No" is a new 42-minute documentary made specifically for this DVD release. It features a large number of new interviews with the people associated with the films, including Sean Connery, as well as classic interviews and images. It explains the origins of the James Bond character and how it eventually found its way to the silver screen. Featuring a lot of interesting information, this documentary is not to be missed if you are a serious Bond fan, as it mentions many behind-the-scenes details about how the film became what it ultimately is.
A 22-minute documentary about director Terence Young can also be found on the release. Many of the director’s collaborators share their thoughts and stories about the director in a refreshing featurette that shows how Young actually fashioned James Bond for the big screen.

The original 1963 black and white featurette that was used to promoted the movie’s theatrical start on television is also part of this release. What is truly interesting about this piece is that it shows how the filmmakers and United Artists tried to create an image for James Bond so that people knew what to expect from the movie and bought into it. Although the footage is badly worn and in rather poor shape, this featurette is an addition to the disc that should not be missed. After that get ready for a rich assortment of theatrical trailers, television and radio spots, as well as an extensive still gallery of photos, covering the crew, the production, the locations, the cast and even lost scenes.

Presented with an insightful booklet, beautiful menus and a slick packaging, "Dr. No" leaves a fantastic impression. It is obvious that MGM views the James Bond movies as their crown jewels and the presentation of the films on these special editions is simply breathtaking. Another, well earned "Gold Seal Of Excellence" goes to this release of the first James Bond movie.