Patrick Brennan begins a new series on James Bond Films

When the writer Ian Fleming wondered who would be the best actor to play James Bond, his famous creation, he always imagined an upper class gentleman like David Niven in the part. Fleming, who had worked in intelligence during World War 2, had written five Bond novels by the time the film version of Dr. No began production in 1962.

Fleming had long considered translating his successful novels about the exotic adventures of superspy 007 to the big screen but never succeeded until he sold the rights to producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli.
Broccoli and Saltzman had trouble finding a studio which would fund the movie until United Artists agreed to give them a one million dollar budget. This was a modest amount even at the time considering that the epic Lawrence of Arabia, also released in 1962, had a budget of $15 million, and even To Kill a Mockingbird, had a budget twice that of Dr. No’s.

The producers hired Terence Young as director and the script was penned by Richard Maibaum, Berkely Mather and Johanna Harwood, an Irish screenwriter from Wicklow.

The most important decision to be made was the casting of James Bond himself. Actors like David Niven, Fleming’s choice, and Cary Grant were considered but ultimately rejected. Cubby Broccoli had seen Sean Connery in 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People but hadn’t considered him for Bond until a producer friend named Benjamin Fisz mentioned him.

Broccoli wasn’t entirely convinced until his wife Dana assured him of Connery’s sex appeal!
Fleming, however, had his reservations, complaining that Bond was not Scottish or working class and called Connery an “overgrown stunt man”.

But the producers were impressed with Connery, especially how he moved “like a cat”, light on his feet despite being six foot two. The director Terence Young took Connery under his wing and taught him how to ‘be’ Bond, to talk and dress and even eat in the way Bond would.

Ursula Andress was cast as Bond’s love interest Honey Ryder; Joseph Wiseman as the eponymous villain, Dr. No; Jack Lord as ally CIA agent Felix Leiter, and Bernard Lee as ‘M’, Bond’s stern superior.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own