Dr No

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Details At A Glance

Category Bond Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 4 - TT x 2, Dr No/From Russia With Love, Goldfinger/Dr No
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 2 x Goldfinger / Dr No (TV trailers)
Year Released 1962 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Terence Young (Director) et al
Running Time 105:12 minutes Other Extras Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette - Inside Dr No
Featurette - Terence Young: Bond Vivant
Featurette - 1963 Dr No Featurette B&W
Radio Ads (6)
The Dr No Gallery (Production Notes, Gallery, Posters)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (83:20)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Terence Young 

Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Sean Connery
Ursula Andress
Joseph Wiseman
Jack Lord
Bernard Lee
Anthony Dawson
Lois Maxwell
RRP $34.95 Music John Barry
Monty Norman 

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 (Europe)
1.85:1 (USA)
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English For The Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Never really being a Bond fan, I dearly wanted to review this disc, and find out what the great attraction was all about. Well, what a treat this turned out to be. Dr No is the first instalment in a line of movies now extending to its nineteenth incarnation. The kicker is, they knew all along that this was the first of many without really having much of a budget or indeed much backing to begin with. The reason Bond has survived for so long (though some would say it hasn't) really boils down to its roots, and here they are in the form of Sean Connery. Could there be a better Bond?Methinks not, though to be sure Pierce Brosnan is not without charm and sophistication himself, and I would call him a close second. Still, you can rarely beat the original.

    Unlike the martini-swilling Bond himself, the plot to Dr No is not too sophisticated. We have your good old-fashioned evil villain doing things only they know why, which in this case is to prevent U.S. missiles from reaching their destined targets using a sophisticated heat beam which we call a "laser". Yes, Dr No even wears quasi-futuristic clothing and lives in an underground lair, as should all truly inspired evil villains. Bond's assignment is simple: stop Dr No, get with as many girls as possible whilst doing it, and at all costs - and this is important - do not wrinkle your tailored suit. Not to stress this point, but during production, Sean Connery actually slept in his expensive suit in order that he felt "at one" with it.

    Okay, the effects are a bit rough. Take the instance of a large and deadly Tarantula walking up Bond's arm during one scene. It wouldn't be too bad if the glass the spider was walking on wasn't pressed so tightly against Sean's arm, which turns white in the process. Then, take the car-chase scenes with the appallingly bad projection scenery, which if anything is actually quite funny to watch. Ever wonder where Intel got its inspiration for people running around in silly multi-coloured costumes? You won't after seeing Dr No's minions at work in his nuclear-powered lair. It's all good stuff, and since this movie is tongue-in-cheek anyway, you can feel free to enjoy it, which I certainly did.

    This is a jolly good start to things, and I for one am looking forward to seeing the next instalment. If it is as good as this DVD, then I think it is safe to say that I will be a Bond convert! Now, does that mean I have to drink Martinis? (shudder).

Transfer Quality


    Hang about, I thought this movie was supposed to be nearly forty years old? Well, that hasn't stopped MGM producing a stunning transfer, and one which was far in excess of my expectations. Sure, it isn't quite reference quality, but it is superb nonetheless and will truly delight fans of this movie.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The first thing which struck me about this transfer was its clarity. The image is very clear, with sharp definition. Wherever you look you will find a level of detail which matches and in many cases exceeds many contemporary transfers, and puts a lot to shame. This is helped in no small way by a total absence of edge enhancement - there simply isn't any, and it lends the image a film-like quality. There is grain visible, slightly more than you would find in modern transfers, but nothing that is intrusive, and if anything it reminds you that this is film anyway, and old film at that. One thing which did give the age of the movie away was the shadow detail. Whilst it is acceptable most of the time, there were instances where much was lost, especially during scenes featuring simulated night-time conditions, something which has never traditionally been handled well anyway, and I dare say it would have looked equally poor in the cinema at the time.

    Another aspect of the transfer which betrayed its age was the colour palette, which just seemed a little dated-looking. Flesh tones were slightly off, and in general colours were undersaturated; if the contrast of this transfer had been turned up a notch or two I suspect that this would have improved the situation somewhat. However, given the age of the movie, the colour palette is very good with no chroma noise, bleeding or any problems of any kind.

    There were no MPEG artefacts to mar the presentation, and this is a fine compression job given the ever-present low-level film grain. Film artefacts were present throughout the movie, mostly being tiny flecks now and then, but sometimes they were rather large. Now and then a frame would be lost and the film would skip a beat, and it is hard to say whether this is as a result of the editing of the time. I counted two instances of aliasing, both from the front grille of the same car, and in this respect the transfer is outstanding.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is one film soundtrack on this disc along with the commentary track, and both are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kilobits per second.

    Dialogue was quite good, though there were occasions when it was difficult to make out some words spoken. Sync was occasionally poor, though given that much of the dialogue was re-recorded, including everything that came out of Ursula Andress' lips, it is a wonder they managed to keep everything as tight as they did. There were also a couple of instances when M's dialogue sounded deliberately altered, especially when he mentions "MI-6". Was this done on purpose at the time? Maybe.

    The sound is not what you might call high-fidelity, and sound recording techniques were on the primitive side in 1962 to say the least. If you have ever seen pictures of recording studios of the day, you might shudder. Imagine huge grey-metal boxes with great dials and levers and clunky switches much like something out of a Dr Who episode, and you would be close. It is therefore a testament to the producers of this DVD that the sound is as good as it is, and it is well acceptable for this vintage of movie. Whilst the sound source is mono (as you might expect), the producers have decided to place the same source into the left and right speakers. I am not a fan of this practice, and would rather have a simple mono 1.0 soundtrack since imaging tends to be a bit wishy-washy otherwise. To counter this, I placed my receiver in Pro-Logic mode, and all was well - not that there was much for the processor to do, but it does firmly place the sound central to the image.

    The sound was never shrill or bright, although the frequency spread was rather thin, with little use of the lower frequencies. The subwoofer was never used apart from the end, where Dr No's lair is destroyed, and my subwoofer was awakened and fair leaped into the air with a start.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use N/A


    There is a huge amount of excellent extra material on this disc, and truly the producers should be congratulated for putting all this stuff together in such a stylish manner - but then what else would we expect from this seminal instalment of the Bond franchise, if not style?!

Menu (16x9 enhanced)

    I love good menus, since they set the tone of the whole disc, and make a good DVD even better. The menu on this disc is a shining example of how it should be done, and makes this disc even more special. When the disc is inserted, we are greeted with the familiar MGM logo, and then a swish-looking "activate" button with a swirling "atom" animation. You must "press" this button in order to proceed, which is cute. The main menu then appears with the swirling "atom" and the choices around the edges along with some other animation, all accompanied by psychedelic electronic sounds typical of that era. Navigating around reveals further menu animations, and the whole disc has a very polished look and feel to it.

Featurette - Inside Dr No (42:07)

    Presented in 1.33:1 and non-16x9 enhanced, this is an excellent documentary on not only this movie, but the whole Bond phenomenon, since this is the movie which started it all. There are great insights from key people responsible for converting Ian Fleming's hugely popular novel into a tangible entity; we learn about everything from why Sean Connery was chosen to play Bond (not initially, I might add) to why Ursula Andress' entire dialogue was re-recorded by someone else. This is fascinating and if, like me, you may not be too up on the whole Bond franchise, you might find yourself a bit of an expert after watching this.

Featurette - Terence Young: Bond Vivant (17:55)

    Presented in 1.33:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, this is a look at the man behind the man behind the camera, the director extraordinaire Terence Young. It seems that this man was in fact the real Bond, being debonair, stylish, sophisticated, ex-navy, ex-spy, ladies man - you name it, he was it. He was clearly adored by all who met him, and this doco tells us why.

Featurette - 1963 Dr No (B&W) (8:18)

    Now this is a real treat! Presented in 1.33:1, definitely non-16x9 enhanced, and perhaps the best example of just how badly film can deteriorate over time if not properly archived, this is an original 1963 short feature on the movie. We have spots, lines, jumping and a general noise floor higher than Mount Everest for this baby, but we can make it out, and what a cack it is. Compare this to a modern day featurette, and as primitive as it is I think I would rather this style! A fabulous inclusion into the extras list, and a classic.


    All trailers are in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

    Theatrical Trailers

    Trailer #1 (3:12) - 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this would have been stylish for its time, and is interesting and of fairly good quality.
    Trailer #2 (3:07) - 1.33:1, non-16x9, B&W, this is the reverse and is almost unwatchable, suffering severe film artefacting and strangled audio. Even though it is in bad shape, its inclusion is still welcome.
    Dr No / From Russia With Love (1:55) - 1.33:1, non-16x9, this is a combination trailer touting the screening of these two movies back to back.
    Goldfinger / Dr No (2:12) - 1.33:1, non-16x9, same as above.

    TV Trailers

    Goldfinger / Dr No (0:58) - 1.33:1 non 16x9
    Goldfinger / Dr No (0:20) - shorter version of the same trailer

Radio Ads

    Six radio advertisements for the movie, all of reasonable quality, and all quite corny. Where did they find this stuff?

The Dr No Gallery

    No less than 152 still photographs, all but one in black and white, and 16x9 enhanced. For the record, they are broken up into neat groups: The Filmmakers (8), Portraits (23), Jamaica (68), Pinewood (16), The Lost Scene (3), Ian Fleming - Jamaica (8) Ian Fleming - Pinewood (4), Around The World With 007 (22). Heading each topic is a short production note, and with well laid-out navigation buttons throughout.

Audio Commentary

    This is a rather unique commentary, and quite unlike any I have heard before. It is also one of the very best I have heard, and the amount of work put into this one alone is extraordinary. Essentially, a narrator introduces the commentary, goes through the extensive list of contributors to the commentary, and then proceeds to introduce scenes and the relevant person who will speak on it. Gathered from many sources over many years, this is amazing. Just about every scene is commented upon by the relevant person that has something to say about it, be it a member of production, an actor, the director, costume, music, you name it and someone will talk about it. Having the single narrator introduce each person is enormously helpful, and I guarantee even those amongst you who do not normally listen to commentaries will want to try this one out for size, since it is excellent and enormously insightful.

R4 vs R1

    The special edition of this movie is being released in R1 just about now, and has only a booklet extra to offer. Subtract NTSC from that, and you end up with no contest. It is nice to see us getting the same high-quality production values as R1, and the much better image quality inherent with PAL R4 releases tops it off nicely.
[Ed. I believe the R4 version will also include a booklet.]


    This first in a long line of Bond films sets the pace, and sets it with style. This is a decent movie in its own right, but as the original 007 movie, it is completely successful. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and look forward to the next instalments as they are released ....

    The video transfer is stunning for its age, and will surely please.

    The soundtrack is wanting in fidelity and is monaural. Still, it does the job.

    An extensive collection of extras on a very well produced disc, this is a reference example of how well a DVD can be authored. Congratulations to the team responsible.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley ( read my bio)
13th May, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A360 (S-Video output)
Display Rear-Projection Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder d t s 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player internal decoder)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive