Bond Style – Black Tie in Dr. No

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No (1962)

Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent and legendary super spy

London, Spring 1962

Film: Dr. No
Release Date: October 5, 1962
Director: Terence Young
Wardrobe Master: John Brady
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair

Background

Today is the day all good Americans have been waiting for four years! No, not the Presidential election; that was Tuesday and less exciting than…

Skyfall, the 23rd and latest installment of the official James Bond series, now released in U.S. theaters! In honor of this latest appearance, let’s run through Bond’s first appearance to audiences.

In 2012, James Bond needs no introduction. However, fifty years ago, he was introduced to major film audiences throughout the world as Sean Connery first uttered the immortal words:

Bond. James Bond.

Now, the words are just as iconic as the man himself, as well as his gun (Walther PPK), his drink (a vodka martini, shaken not stirred), and his car (a silver Aston Martin).

In 1962, the producers of Dr. No knew they had to make a quick impression. The new film audiences weren’t as patient as the book readers who had been reading about Bond for almost ten years. They had to establish immediately that this was a suave but tough British spy who liked fine things and knew it.

As an additional challenge, Sean Connery didn’t have the natural sophisticated polish that one now associates with 007. Terence Young, the film’s cosmopolitan director, can be given much of the credit for establishing Bond’s cinematic identity. Young modeled Connery’s Bond after his own image, even using the same tailor, Anthony Sinclair. Additionally, Young wanted Connery to feel so comfortable in his suits that he reportedly suggested that Connery sleep in them.

What’d He Wear?

A sharp dark tuxedo, a casino, a gorgeous woman, and a gun under his arm. Besides the martini, this first look at Bond does a damn good job at reflecting the image that would stick for at least fifty years to come. Well done, Terence Young and Sean Connery.

Who’s gonna forget this moment?

We first meet Bond sitting at a Chemin de Fer table in Le Cercle, a London casino. He wears a midnight blue tuxedo that is so dark it almost looks black… as midnight blue is intended to do. Like the rest of Connery’s Bond suits, this was tailored by Anthony Sinclair. (Much of this outfit, especially the dinner suit itself, was analyzed in the inaugural post of Matt Spaiser’s informative blog, The Suits of James Bond.)

As was most common in the early 60s, the jacket has a black silk-faced shawl collar. There are three outer pockets: a jetted breast pocket and two flapped hip pockets. After the casino scenes, the flaps are evidently tucked inside the pockets, making them appear to be jetted.

In the rear of the jacket are two relatively short vents. Double vents are considered to be less formal than no vents on a dinner jacket. However, a single vent is the least formal at all. Since Bond is carrying his pistol under the jacket, it could be explained that he must always be ready for action and thus would need the mobility that double vents provide. Or perhaps Bond is just a less formal guy and goes with what he likes, evident by his choice of ditching both the cummerbund and waistcoat.

How many of you wear the same thing to the casino, the office, and a late night date?

The final details of the jacket are the silk-covered buttons. Like most traditional single-breasted dinner jackets, it closes with one button in the front. The cuffs are more interesting. In addition to the four silk-covered buttons, there is also a silk gauntlet cuff that is about an inch or so long. This is a more Edwardian detail and makes the jacket stand out against the others.

Bond’s white Lanvin shirt has a pleated front and double (French) cuffs, secured with plain gold square links, rounded on the edges. Dr. No sets the early example of Bond’s formal shirts always having turndown collars, never wing. The Dr. No shirt has a moderate spread collar and front placket with mother-of-pearl buttons. His bowtie is thin black satin with diamond-pointed ends.

Keep this in mind the next time you go to a casino in your “nice” T-shirt.

The trousers do not overcompensate for the lack of a waist covering and are a traditional rise, something that only someone with Connery’s height and physique could pull off. Also like the rest of Connery’s suit pants, they have double forward pleats and button side-tab adjusters in lieu of suspenders or a belt… of course, formal trousers should never be worn with a belt. Consistent with evening trouser styles, a black silk stripe extends down the side of each leg to the plain-hemmed bottoms.

Bond wears the requisite black patent leather plain-toe oxford shoes, kicking them off when he returns home and determines he’s not alone… softly stepping through his entryway in his black dress socks.

In his head, Connery is thinking, “Ian Fleming is gonna appreciate me taking my shoes off without untying them.”

When traveling between the club, his office, and his flat, Bond wears traditional black tie outerwear: a Chesterfield overcoat and an all-black homburg. The homburg is the hat popularized in The Godfather, a formal felt hat with a gutter crown, a stiff curled brim, and grosgrain silk band echoing the edges.

Made from midnight blue melton wool, Bond’s three-button Chesterfield has a black velvet collar comprising the upper half of his notch lapels. The coat also has a welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, and long single vent.

Casual Friday is a welcome break at the MI6 offices, but Formal Saturday sucks.

JamesBondWatches.com identified Bond’s dress watch in these scenes as a gold Gruen Precision 510 with subsidiary-seconds, worn on a dark leather strap. According to the site, the watch was first identified by Dell Deaton in March 2013.

Go Big or Go Home

As mentioned earlier, this sequence from the casino to the flat was Terence Young’s “James Bond Primer”. Although we still haven’t been informed of Bond’s signature drink, we see his choice of black tie even though many of the casino patrons are dressed more casually.

We know that he carries a gun and is good with them. He keeps his .380-caliber Beretta M1934 under his left shoulder and, after a visit to the officer, returns home with a Walther PP in the same caliber. (Yes, the film’s dialogue says it’s a .32 PPK, but we can discuss that later.)

We also see that he has a way with women, meeting Sylvia Trench after beating her at chemin de fer and giving her his address. She then breaks into his apartment and undresses, passing the time until his return by playing golf… evidently her second favorite activity.

Although a bank roll like this helps too.

So what’s the takeaway here? Learn how to play chemin de fer!

What exactly is chemin de fer? It’s the original version of baccarat, dating back to its introduction in France. It involves six decks of cards, shuffled together. The player to the right of the croupier begins, with play continuing counterclockwise. Another player is designated as the “banker”. This player also deals. Every other player is a “punter”. Like the direction of play, the position of banker travels counterclockwise throughout the game.

During each round, the banker wagers his bet. Each other player determines if they will “go bank”, playing against the entire current bank with a matching bet, with only one other player going bank. If no one does, players make their bets in order. If the total wagers from the punters is less than the bank, anyone around can start wagering up to that amount. However, if the punters’ total wagers are more than the bank, the banker can decide to increase the bank to match or just remove the excess bets in reverse play order.

Four cards are dealt face down by the banker. The banker gets two with two held in common by the punters. The highest wagering punter represents the punters and, thus, receives the in common cards. The banker and punter then secretly look at their respective cards. If either has a hand totaling 8 or a 9, this must be announced immediately with the hands turned over and compared. If neither does, a third card (dealt face up) can be accepted or refused. Typically, players with hands totaling 0 to 4 accept the card and refuse the card if hands total 6 or 7. Once both players have decided whether or not to accept the third card, hands are revealed and compared.

If the punter’s hand is higher than the banker’s hand, each wagering player receives double their wager in return and the next player (counterclockwise) becomes the banker. If the banker’s hand is higher than the punter’s hand, all bets are forfeited and banked, and the banker remains the same. A tie keeps all wagers on the table for the next hand.

Bond enjoys the end result of strategically playing chemin de fer.

What to Imbibe

Ha! You thought I was going to talk about a martini here, didn’t you? Connery doesn’t drink at all in this scene, so better luck next time.

Bond’s cigarette case echoes the description of the long flat gunmetal case featured in several of Ian Fleming’s source novels.

The Gun

I mentioned earlier the confusion surrounding Bond’s gun. In the scene in M’s office, both in the book and the film, he surrenders his Beretta and receives a Walther. That’s about where the similarities end.

M: Yes, I thought so. This damn Beretta again. I’ve told you about this before. (to the armorer) You tell him, for the last time.
Maj. Boothroyd: It’s nice and light… in a lady’s handbag. No stopping power.
M: Any comments, 007?
Bond: I disagree, sir. I’ve used the Beretta for ten years. And I’ve never missed with it yet.
M: Maybe not, but it jammed on your last job and you spent six months in the hospital in consequence. If you carry a double-O number, it means you’re licensed to kill, not get killed… From now on you’ll carry a different gun. Show him, armorer.
Maj. Boothroyd: Walther PPK. 7.65 mil with a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window. Takes a Brausch silencer with very little reduction in muzzle velocity. The American CIA swear by them.

In the book, Bond has been carrying a skeleton-gripped Beretta 418 in .25 ACP for at least ten years. This is a very small gun with very anemic ammunition and, in fact, would be a poor choice for a secret agent expecting combat. Fleming only had his hero carry one to reflect the gun he himself carried while working British Intelligence during World War II. Bond then receives a .32-caliber Walther PPK, a suggestion from Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, a fan of Fleming’s books and a firearms enthusiast. In fact, Bond also received a Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight .38 Special snub-nosed revolver for “long range work”. Boothroyd said that Bond should carry the S&W alone, but Fleming wanted his hero to have a semi-automatic and ditched the S&W on Crab Key.

Nothing makes Sean Connery more uncomfortable than having an empty shoulder holster.

Unfortunately, this didn’t translate as well to the film. Apparently, the only small-caliber Beretta available to the filmmakers was a Beretta M1934 in .380 ACP. Although reliability is questionable (some say they’ve lasted well over 70 years, some say they jammed immediately in the field), the suggestion that they are far less powerful than a .32 Walther is laughable.

Furthermore, although dialogue specifies a Walther PPK in 7.65 mm (also .32 ACP), Bond is given a Walther PP in .380 ACP: a larger and more powerful gun. All that M and the armorer essentially did was replace Bond’s .380 compact with another .380 compact.

So let’s talk about Bond’s Beretta! The M1934 would have been a far better choice for the literary bond than the 418. For its size and the time in which the books were written, eight rounds of .380 ACP well-concealed in a shoulder holster was nothing to sneeze at and was certainly more powerful than the eight rounds of .25 ACP in the 418.

A Beretta M1934 in .380 ACP (9×17 mm)

The M1934 was developed in, naturally, 1934 by the Italians. It was quickly adopted into service as the military’s standard sidearm and saw much use by officers during World War II. Over one million copies were made until production ended in 1991. A .32-caliber version, the M1935, was developed in… Oh, I’ll let you guess what year.

How to Get the Look

Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No (1962)

James Bond’s first on-screen evening wear provides a peerless example of elegant black tie.

  • Midnight blue wool tailored tuxedo:
    • Single-breasted dinner jacket with satin-faced shawl collar, single silk-covered button, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 4 silk-covered cuff buttons with turnback/gauntlet cuffs, and double vents
    • Double forward-pleated formal trousers with button-tab side adjusters, black silk side braiding, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • White cotton dress shirt with spread collar, pleated front, front placket with mother-of-pearl buttons, and double/French cuffs
  • Black satin narrow bow tie with diamond-pointed ends
  • Rounded square gold cuff links
  • Black patent leather plain-toe oxford shoes
  • Black dress socks
  • Folded white linen pocket square
  • Gold dress watch with round white dial on dark leather strap
  • Midnight blue melton wool Chesterfield overcoat with a black velvet collar, 3-button front, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, and long single vent
  • Black felt homburg with a black grosgrain band and edges
  • Light brown chamois shoulder holster (RHD) under left armpit with blue straps, for a Beretta M1934 or a Walther PP

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

Bond, James Bond.

Yes, this scene is where we first hear those immortal words.

Footnotes

Matt Spaiser’s brilliant blog covered this dinner suit in its inaugural post in October 2010 and, since then, has been excellently exploring Bond’s wardrobe as well as similar films with Bond actors or style.

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