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Throughout the 50 plus year history of the franchise, the James Bond films have been noted for many things: fast cars, vodka martinis “shaken not stirred”; Bond girls; treacherous villains and, a musical and graphic introduction to the film , courtesy of the opening titles. Each film features a unique opening sequence that is part art, and part music video.
Since James Bond has had such an important role in cinema (and in film music), I thought it would be fun to look at each film’s opening title sequence. We’ll start with Dr. No (1962) the first James Bond film, starring Sean Connery and Ursula Andress.
Property of Eon Productions
The first James Bond film set the tone for all the films that would follow. Bond (initially portrayed by Sean Connery) is a suave (yet ruthless) agent working for Her Majesty’s secret service (also known as MI6). Bond is pulled away from a relaxing night at the club when London discovers that one of their agents, Strangways, has mysteriously disappeared in Jamaica. Bond is sent to investigate and discovers that Strangways was looking into a Chinese man named Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), who ostensibly runs a bauxite mine on an island named Crab Key. What Bond (or anyone else) doesn’t know is that the mine is a front for a sinister criminal organization (this film also serves as an introduction to SPECTRE, Bond’s ultimate nemesis throughout the series).
The score for this film (and a good number to follow) was composed by Monty Norman and features the introduction of the classic “James Bond theme” (John Barry also helped to arrange the music, but his work is not credited).
While later title sequences (starting with Goldfinger (1964)) would be based around one song, the Dr. No sequence is different because it is actually based around two pieces: the first half contains an arrangement of the “James Bond Theme” performed by the John Barry orchestra. The second half performs a piece called “Kingston Calypso,” performed by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. The “Calypso” piece serves as a bridge between the opening credits and the start of the film. Unlike later Bond films, which feature a cold open and THEN the opening credits, this one features the credits first.
Credit to Art of the Title
As you can see in the montage, the opening credits are relatively simple compared to later films, with the background consisting more of visual shapes and colors than people (especially women). The title sequence would become increasingly more complex (and expensive) as the years went on.
The title sequence was designed by Maurice Binder (1925-1991), who designed the opening for all but two of the first 16 Bond films (the exceptions are From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964)).
You can watch the title sequence of Dr. No by clicking the link above near the top of the page. Feel free to like and comment if you enjoyed this look into the history of James Bond.
Next time: From Russia With Love (1963)
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