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Culture Re-View: Lesser known facts about 007 on James Bond Day

The first gun barrel scene
The first gun barrel scene Copyright Eon Productions
Copyright Eon Productions
By Jonny Walfisz
Published on
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5 October 1962: “The name’s Bond, James Bond”

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Adapted from the 1958 novel by British writer Ian Fleming, Terrence Young directed a spy film on low budget that would prove to be the start of a cinematic sensation.

That film was, of course, Dr. No – the first instalment of the James Bond film series. Starring Sean Connery in the lead role, Dr. No was released on this day in 1962 to commercial success. It’s success was so great, that it spurred on the film industry to create a glut of spy films in the 60s, as well as becoming the first of an ongoing 25-film series – most recently 2021’s No Time to Die.

Following the plot of Fleming’s sixth novel in his James Bond series of books, Dr. No established a lot of the cinematic stylings that would define later entries in the series.

Two of the most obvious examples come in the first few minutes of the film. Opening the whole thing up is the signature gun barrel sequence. Now a cultural staple key to any spy-spoof, the camera takes on the position of a gun barrel as it seeks out Bond, who quickly turns to shoot, winning the draw. Blood cascades down the screen and the iconic Bond theme plays.

The next example is when Connery’s 007 is first introduced. Sitting at a casino table, he’s asked his name, to which the reply is the absolutely indefatigable “Bond, James Bond”. For decades after, step-dads around the world have adopted this phrasing as a key part of their personalities.

To celebrate the 61st anniversary of the release of Dr. No, otherwise known as James Bond Day, here are some lesser-known facts about the films, which have grossed over €7.4 billion to date.

There are more than 25 films

The official count of how many Bond films there have been is 25. However, there are two films that should be technically included, even though they weren’t produced by Eon Productions formed by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

The first is 1967’s Casino Royale. Far from the grittier tone of the Daniel Craig-fronted Casino Royale released in 2006, this film was the result of Fleming selling the title to his first novel before the Eon Productions deal was done. The resulting film was a spoof of the successful 60s series with David Niven in the starring role. It’s not well loved.

In 1983, the second non-Eon film was released. Never Say Never has a remarkably similar plotline to 1965’s Thunderball. There’s a good reason. Fleming wrote the original novel based on a script by Kevin McClory. Although McClory was a producer on Thunderball, he still retained the story’s rights and used it to make Never Say Never. It’s the last time Sean Connery played Bond after quitting in 1971 and claiming he’d never play the role again.

Origin of the name

While the “Bond, James Bond” line is enshrined in cinematic history since that early scene in Dr. No, the true origin of the name itself is a bit more mundane than you’d imagine.

For the ultimate secret agent, Fleming wanted a truly unimpressive name. Looking through a birdwatching book, he found the inspiration he was hoping for. The American ornithologist Dr James Bond.

Dr. Bond actually quite liked his espionage namesake. Although he didn’t find out about it until years after Fleming wrote the first book, he met and became friends with the writer on a 1964 trip to Jamaica. Throughout the Bond films, there have been many small references to ornithology, including it being the profession Pierce Brosnan uses to introduce himself to Jinx (Halle Berry) in Die Another Day.

Shaken, not stirred

Another key James Bond catchphrase is the way he orders his favourite drink. The famous request of a “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred” wasn’t actually said by Bond in Dr. No but by a waiter giving it to him. In fact, it’s not until the third film 1964’s Goldfinger that Connery utters the phrase himself.

It’s also not the right drink. The line “shaken, not stirred” is an invention of the books and when Bond orders a drink in the original ‘Casino Royale’ novel, he orders a martini that combines gin, vodka and Kina Lillet. This drink is now known as a “Vesper”.

Why did Connery not get a Vesper in Dr. No then? The answer is simple. Smirnoff were a sponsor of the film and didn’t want gin to be mentioned in his martini order.

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