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Film Review: 007 Dr.No (1962) - ''Bond...James Bond'' Film Editing of Cold War Spy Films

Updated: Jan 17

Film Review: 007 Dr.No (1962) - ''Bond...James Bond'' Film Editing of Cold War Spy Films
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of DR.NO (1962). ©United Artists Releasing

Dir. Terence Young (1915–94)'s classical spy genre film 007 series was established by 007 Dr. No (1962). It was not based on the first 007 novel, Casino Royale (1953), written by Ian Fleming (1908-64). It's obviously a Cold War-era spy story that mainly depicts both MI6 and the CIA as protagonists. The political stance established in Dr. No is obvious that it opposes the Eastern bloc and serves the Western establishment.

This film, Dr. No, is a single camera work like most European films in general. And the editor, Peter R. Hunt, the cut was based on master shots and additional sets of reverse shots between characters involved in the scenes. For example, at the beginning of the film, in a "now-famous nightclub sequence featuring Sylvia Trench", editing was done in this way and the cutback between the reverse shots and the master shot pretty discontinued. 

Besides this, the first assault scene at the beginning of the film, Dr. No, it is remarkable that when John Strangways, the British MI6 Station Chief in Jamaica, and his secretary are ambushed and killed, we can see that quick cuts fit the rhythm of silencers firing. Of course, this was done by one camera due to reverse shots and cutaways are separable in shooting. 

In Perter Hunt's aesthetic view, quick / jumpy cutting with fast motions are technical solutions to ease script flaws. Actually, this is more sophisticated and cinematic than live time synchronization of editing time with actions. Style is cutting off unnecessary parts from the process of organizing a whole thing. A similar suggestion was made by Akira Kurosawa in the 1990s about Japanese editorial tendencies. 

In this film, Dr. No, the major flaw is the logical connection between the radioactive facility and preventing the rocket launching by radio wave. It must be supported narratively by explanation and dialogue. It's quite incomprehensible visually. Because of only multiple camera editing in this film, the car explosion in the chase sequence between Bond and Specter was not felt as multiple camera work. It still looks like a single camera due to a lack of axis shots of different sizes. However, this film and its editing are still classical and must be recommended. It's more interesting and exciting than most contemporary films.


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Film Review: 007 Dr.No (1962) - ''Bond...James Bond'' Film Editing of Cold War Spy Films


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