As a James Bond fan, it’s not a surprise that I have an opinion on both the books and the movies. However, except with a few exceptions, I tend to like both the movies and books for what they have to offer. Despite this, I do think the movies made both good and bad choices as compared with the books. This is going to be the first in a best and worst movie choices series. So here we go!
Below are the eight best differences in the Dr. No movie from the Dr. No book.
I have never heard of this term before reading Dr. No, and I wish I never had. “…Chigroes-Chinese negroes and negresses. The Chigroes are a tough, forgotten race. They look down on the negroes and the Chinese look down on them. One day they may become a nuisance. They’ve got some of the intelligence of the Chinese and most of the vices of the black man.”
Dr. No is Chinese and exclusively uses Chinese and Chinese and Black people to work for him. In the book, and in the movie, if someone is Chinese or has any Chinese phenotypes that they are without question an agent of Dr. No. Even though I wish this was also removed from the movie as it perpetuates the idea at the time, and even now, that Chinese people will forever be in alliance with only other Chinese people. This racist idea is how a lot of people justify their distrust of Asian people and the stereotype of the perpetual immigrant continues to be replicated and believed.
Even though the idea is still present, I am still glad they decided to not introduce the word “Chigroe” into the everyday language of millions of people across the globe.
Dr. No is the first James Bond movie produced and choosing Sean Connery was the best choice they could have made. Connery infamously didn’t fit Ian Fleming’s vision for James Bond. He was a bit too good looking and relatable. However, after the clear success of Dr. No, Fleming became a fan of Connery and even began to think of him as he wrote later books.
Personally, Sean Connery was one of my first big screen crushes and I’m forever grateful to have known him as bond. I’m also glad they decided to not add literary Bond’s famous facial scar.
Miss Moneypenny is a character in the novels and films; however, she plays a much larger role in the films. Choosing to make Miss Moneypenny the only woman we meet in MI6 and giving her a role in every film was the best choice that could have been made. We’ve all come to love and admire Miss Moneypenny as the one woman Bond will always respect and never have a relationship with. This, of course, also makes sure that she won’t die. (We all know the fate of most Bond women.)
Getting Rid of the Strangways Love Affair
In the novel, there is a poorly done mystery about whether Strangways and his secretary ran away with each other or if they were killed and gotten rid of. I never believed that the idea that Strangways ran away with his secretary was ever a plausible excuse for both of their disappearances. It always felt unnecessary to the story and an excuse for British Jamaican government officials to not care about what was really going on. By getting rid of this distraction we’re able to focus on Bond and Dr. No without worrying about whether this mystery, that was never convincingly introduced, is the real path that Bond should follow. If you haven’t read the book, be thankful that you get straight to the problem in the movie.
Adding in Byron Lee and the Dragonaires to the night club scene gives Dr. No a hit song and a real dose of Jamaican culture. Without bringing in “Jump Up,” I’m almost certain they would have gone with a more popular traditional song in a calypso type of style that would have only been a party for the British tourists. Adding in a popular band and a good song gave the scene a touch of authenticity that is lacking in most other areas of the movie when it comes to portraying Jamaica.
No Obstacle Course
In the Dr. No book, Bond is forced to go through a claustrophobic and horrifying obstacle course that would have been completed completely in the dark if Bond had not smuggled in a lighter. Although this section of the book fit in with Dr. No’s psychology and also showed Bond’s resourcefulness, there is no way this could have been portrayed in the Dr. No film without it coming across as incredibly cheesy and too sci-fi for the current tone of the film. Remember the hot pipes Bond has to climb through to escape in Dr. No? Now imagine those pipes a bit smaller with ports that had Dr. No’s scientists taking measurements and recordings as Bond moves through different obstacles within those pipes. It may not sound that strange the way I put it, but trust me, you didn’t want to see it.
No Giant Squid
Yes! Bond fights a giant squid in Dr. No. You didn’t know this? Well now you do. After Bond escapes the obstacle course he then has to battle a giant almost mythic squid. We do ultimately get Bond fighting and evading sea creatures in future films, but I just cannot imagine being able to take Dr. No seriously with a giant fake squid and Sean Connery battling each other before he rescues Honey Rider.
Spectre is a creation of Ian Fleming, but does not show up in the Dr. No book. Instead the major conflict is a geopolitical one with state and non-state actors involving potential military might. Making Dr. No a part of Spectre instead of just a private individual is perhaps the best choice made for the franchise after choosing Sean Connery as James Bond. Spectre provides a connection for the villainy throughout the Bond films without the pesky interference of real-world politics. Spectre has given us 007 fans so much throughout the years that I am grateful it was introduced early and prominently.