Movies

First James Bond film celebrates milestone

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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Last Thursday was the 55th anniversary of the release of Dr No.

The first of the James Bond movies, it was largely filmed in Jamaica in 1961 and released just two months after the country gained Independence from Great Britain.

Dr No featured suave super sleuth James Bond (Sean Connery in the lead role), created by former British naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming, who had a summer home called Goldeneye in picturesque Oracabessa, St Mary.

Jack Lord, who later gained fame in the television series Hawaii Five-O, played a CIA agent in Dr No. Ursula Andress was the first Bond Girl.

The movie cost US$1 million to make. Its action-packed plot, spurred by Bond's cool demeanour and fancy gadgets, made Dr No an international sensation. It earned nearly US$60 million at the box office.

This film also put the spotlight on Jamaican culture and personalities.

Chris Blackwell, whose family were neighbours of Ian Fleming in Oracabessa, used his music business ties to recruit musicians who appeared in the film. Blackwell co-founded Island Records in Kingston in 1959.

In the opening scenes in what was then the Palisadoes Airport, Bond is picked up by Mr Jones, played by the late Reggie Carter who became one of Jamaica's leading actors. Carter found a new generation of fans in the 1990s as Ted Blackburn in the television drama series, Royal Palm Estate.

Marguerite LeWars, Miss Jamaica 1961, played Annabel Chung, an associate of Dr No. It was LeWars' only acting role as she made a name in marketing and public relations. She moved to Trinidad after marrying Ken Gordon, a major figure in Caribbean media.

The hotel at which Bond stayed was the Liguanea Club in New Kingston, which is still a trendy spot for corporate Jamaica and tourists.

Port Royal had long shed its reputation as the 'wickedest place on Earth' when production cameras rolled for Dr No's scenes in 1961. Bond visits the quaint fishing village and at one point converses with Jack Lord in a room stacked with crates of Red Stripe Beer.

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires are the lounge band early in the movie. The now famous scene with the bikini-clad Andress emerging from a swim in the Caribbean Sea was filmed in Ocho Rios.

Ten years after the release of Dr No, another film made in Jamaica hit the silver screen. Produced by Perry Henzell and starring Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come gave a gritty portrayal of the country's urban landscape.

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