Tuesday, January 12, 2021

31 Days of Believe Care Invest: Dr. No

A government man named Strangways is killed and carted away in Jamaica, and the word goes out for James Bond, who is playing Chemin de Fer at his club. He flirts with a girl and asks her name. She says, “Trench, Sylvia Trench.” Mimicking her, he calls himself, “Bond, James Bond”, just as he lights his cigarette. They flirt and make a date for the next day, then Bond is called into the office. Bond’s boss M gives him the job to find Strangways. Bond returns home to find Sylvia in his apartment. He tells her he has to go but agrees to stay a bit longer. 

Why Bond might be hard to identify with: At the casino, Bond is playing a game with no element of skill and winning through sheer luck, and indeed throughout the series he will be a pretty terrible spy that relies on luck a lot (You’re not supposed to tell everybody your real name!)

  • He has strange but consistent habits. He’s called into the work in the middle of the night and casually strolls in in a tuxedo, saying, “Good evening.” His boss responds, “It happens to be 3 AM, 007, when do you sleep?” “Never on the firm’s time, Sir.”
  • He’s a man of particular tastes, including in guns.
  • His boss likes to cut him down to size.
  • He’s given a mission that will mean he’ll have to cancel his assignation, then he has his manhood taken away from him in another way: An armorer comes in and M says to Bond: “Take off your jacket, give me your gun. Yes, I thought so, this damn Beretta again, I’ve told you about this before.” Then the armorer says, “It’s nice and light …in a lady’s handbag. No stopping power.” Instead, he’s given a Walther because, “The American CIA swear by them.” Bond doesn’t like to defer to American tastes. It’s a humiliation.
  • M even tells him he’s not allowed to flirt with his secretary Moneypenny on the way out.
  • We just look at his back and hands for a while, including showing him playing two winning hands at the card game. We don’t actually get to see his face until he says his famous line. That always fascinates us.
  • Somehow Connery seems like the epitome of both English class and rough Scottish manliness at the same time. Nobody has ever figured out how he did that.
  • He’s good at flirting: “Tell me, Miss Trench, do you play any other games?”
  • Moneypenny also wants to sleep with him. “What gives?” “Me, given an ounce of encouragement.”
  • M tells us he has a license to kill.
  • I’ve stopped talking about rising above one’s job, but Bond will, not for the last time, do it literally. Trench is waiting for him in his hotel room in just a shirt and high heels. “You picked the wrong moment. I have to leave immediately.” “Oh, that’s too bad, just as things were getting interesting again. [kisses him] When did you say you had to leave?” “Immediately. [she kisses him again] …Almost immediately.” We then get a classic Bond cross dissolve to the next scene, and we all know what that means.

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