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A View to a Bond Baddie: Dr. Julius No

‘To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

In many ways, Dr. No feels like a rather strange first instalment for a franchise that has managed to persist from half a century. Many of the trademarks we associate with the series are absent. There’s no pre-credits sequence. No powerful theme song involving the title of the film. Even the music playing over that iconic gun barrel shot sounds weird. There are no gadgets and gizmos, save for a Geiger Counter. The movie’s iconic Bond girl, Honey Rider, only shows up past the mid-point of the film.

As such, it’s amazing that the Bond villain emerged almost fully formed, with Dr. No providing perhaps the archetypal James Bond baddie.

He didn’t spend 6 years in evil physics school to be called “Mister”…

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John Barry, RIP

I had hoped to end James Bond January as a celebration of one of the most iconic film franchises ever produced. It as a fantastically organised event – thanks to the legend that is Paul Thain over at Paragraph Film Reviews. Through the month, we had some surprising good news. Despite the shadow that loomed over MGM, the next Bond film (Bond 23, as it is known) would enter production. It would be released for the film’s fiftieth anniversary, would see Daniel Craig return and would be directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes. That was good news, and it really contributed to the atmosphere of the month.

1933-2011

Unfortunately, as the month came to a close, there was bad news. It’s tragic to end the month with the passing of John Barry. Barry had a tremendous career that others can do far more justice to than I would dare attempt. A legendary composer, his work is instantly recognisable – even if you don’t know you’re listening to it. It’s rare for a composer to exude pure and refined class and sophistication, while still remaining truly accessible. Barry did that. He won an Oscar for his work on Born Free, a soundtrack that I can sing along with even though I have never seen the film. I imagine there are more than a few readers who can say the same thing.

There are those who will sum up his career more eloquently than this truncated blog post, but he was a master. He worked on twelve of the Bond films, however his work was so iconic that the only major departure from his style occurred with GoldenEye (and this was promptly corrected for Tomorrow Never Dies). Perhaps his most iconic Bond theme is for Goldfinger. There’s a video below embedded of Barry conducting an instrumental rendition.

However, my own personal favourite John Barry theme comes from You Only Live Twice:

And I have a soft spot for Diamonds Are Forever, where he famously coaxed Shirley Bassey to give it lots and then some.

Rest in peace.

Non-Review Review: You Only Live Twice

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

You Only Live Twice was my favourite when I was younger. It was energetic, witty, bright, colourful and adventurous. The stakes were ridiculously high – no less than the Third World War. Bond’s trip to Japan painted the country as an exotic wonderland to a mind as young as my own. The script was smart and the action was fast-paced – the movie still breezes along even today. The cost of the speed is that the movie is ultimately fairly light – it doesn’t carry anything particularly heavy or thought-provoking. This means that it ends up feeling relatively light-weight when measured against some of Sean Connery’s earlier outings like From Russia With Love or Goldfinger, which worked at least as much with suspense as with action.

Is Bond turning Japanese?

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