Sean Connery as James Bond, suave British government agent
Jamaica, Summer 1962
Film: Dr. No
Release Date: October 5, 1962
Director: Terence Young
Wardrobe Master: John Brady
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
Yesterday’s Car Week post focused on a man on an assignment in the Caribbean wearing a blue sport coat and slacks, speeding a sporty roadster along the coast in the early 1960s. Today’s post is going to be exactly the same thing but different.
All kidding aside, plenty of the elements people know and love from James Bond films can be found in the very first movie, 1962’s Dr. No. Here, we see Bond sharply attired as he downs vodka martinis, shoots bad guys, beds exotic beauties, and gets into a car chase… all between cringe-worthy quips and double entendres. Today, I’ll be focusing on the very first James Bond “action car” seen on screen, a blue Sunbeam Alpine roadster.
Before any arguments about the first actual Bond screen car start, Bond did commandeer a ’57 Chevy from a dead henchman earlier in the story, but the Sunbeam Alpine is the first car that sees any actual action. Of course, on the limited budget of this first film, this “action” was a chase consisting of disproportionate rear projection and awkward action-steering from Sean Connery in his first true action scene as Bond.
Bond is also nicely dressed for the chase, having prepared for his date with the exotic and duplicitous Miss Taro by donning a navy blazer and flannel slacks. Matt Spaiser previously wrote about this and Sean Connery’s other blazers for a very informative post on his blog, The Suits of James Bond.
What’d He Wear?
A classic navy blue blazer and slacks is still a very popular combination across the world, especially in the United States and Europe. In Europe, it is still a casual alternative when a suit isn’t necessary, but Americans have embraced the less formal blazer and often wear it in lieu of a suit.
Some people unfairly criticize the specific pairing of a navy blazer with gray trousers as having fallen into the domain of security guard uniforms. I personally prefer the traditionally masculine look of gray slacks instead of tan khakis, which have been unfortunately hijacked by sartorially uneducated young men as a standard go-to when they are told that they need to dress up. (Having been in a fraternity, I can personally attest to this overwhelmingly common ensemble among frat guys!)
The context for Bond’s blazer and slacks in Dr. No is very appropriate. While the colors—especially the dark trousers—might be darker than expected for Jamaica, Bond is English, after all, and he is dressed here like an Englishman. It is first seen when Bond makes an informal visit to Professor Dent’s office to follow up on a lead. He is conducting no other major business that day, so his choice of a blazer rather than a suit makes sense.
Next, Bond is driving for an evening
assignation date with Miss Taro. In this pre-feminist era, Miss Taro isn’t given much of a choice regarding the meeting…
Miss Taro: What should I say to an invitation from a strange gentleman?
Bond: You should say yes.
…but she eventually acquiesces, only to give Dr. No’s assassins the chance to kill him during the car chase. The gunmen fail, Bond arrives, and the date goes as expected—in Bond’s eyes, anyway—with both of them falling into bed together. Luckily, the film does not demean Miss Taro as far as having the evidently mind-blowing intercourse completely change her allegiance (i.e., Pussy Galore), and Bond snares her in a police trap and awaits the next threat.
In both sequences, Bond wears a navy single-breasted blazer constructed of wool serge, a fabric that he would be comfortable in from his days wearing uniforms and greatcoats of the British Royal Navy. The blazer has two flat gunmetal buttons on the front and two smaller gunmetal buttons on each cuff. All outer pockets on the blazer are patch pockets, including the two hip pockets and the breast pocket, which Bond accents with a white linen handkerchief folded into a pocket square.
The blazer was tailored by Anthony Sinclair for Dr. No and is fitted with natural shoulders and double rear vents. The darted front contributes to the trim fit; luckily, Connery was still athletic enough that a closer fit would be flattering… unlike Diamonds are Forever.
Of the three navy blazers worn during Sean Connery’s time as James Bond, this one is my favorite. He later wears navy blazers in Thunderball and Diamonds are Forever that have brass buttons and 4-button cuffs. In each film, he pairs the navy blazer with a pair of gray trousers.
The dark gray flannel trousers that Connery sports with his blazer in Dr. No are almost charcoal, which would be a shade too dark to be worn with such a dark blazer. I suspect that they are the trousers that Bond wore earlier in the film when he arrived in Jamaica wearing a dark gray flannel suit. Since they are more than likely part of that suit, they were also tailored by Anthony Sinclair.
Bond’s choice of flannel trousers for Jamaica is questioned by some as it is typically very heavy and warm-wearing cloth, but some lighter weight flannels (think 10-12 oz.) can be very comfortable in warmer climates. Flannel trousers also have a long tradition as summer cloths worn in sports such as tennis, cricket, or boating.
I can’t tell the specific weight of Bond’s flannel trousers or suit in Dr. No, but it should be considered that the bulk of the Jamaican filming was done in January and February 1962. Even in these traditionally winter months, the average low is around 70°F with an average high of 86°F. Winter or not, it would still be hot, and I would hope the costumers were kind enough to not send Sean Connery gallivanting across sunny Jamaica in flannel suits with temperatures in the 80s.
The trousers have a traditional high rise, fastened around the waist with an extended waistband tab that closes with a hook and eye in the front and the usual “DAKS top” side-tab waist adjusters with three gray mother-of-pearl buttons (as per English tailoring customs). Bond uses one of the buttons on the left side to fasten his light brown leather shoulder holster into place.
Bond’s trousers have slanted side pockets and a jetted button-through pocket on the right rear side that he wears with the button unfastened. The trousers have tapered legs down to the cuffed bottoms with medium-width turn-ups (cuffs) which break high over his shoes.
Bond wears a pair of very smart black leather cap-toe derby shoes. Although custom dictates matching the socks to the trousers, especially when the trousers have a short break, Bond wears thin dark blue silk dress socks, which actually range in height during his interrogation of Dent in Miss Taro’s room.
Bond’s shirt and tie are standard for the first two films in the series. He wears a pale blue poplin Turnbull & Asser shirt with a spread collar, front placket, and no rear darts. These scenes offer plenty of exposure for the two-button turnback cuffs (also known as “cocktail cuffs”).
A quick shot shows Bond in Dent’s office wearing a white shirt with the blazer and tie. Since the shot is incongruous with the rest of the angles in the scene, I suspect it may be one of the film’s several continuity errors.
The tie is a navy blue grenadine tie, also from Turnbull & Asser. At three inches wide, the ties in Dr. No are the widest that Connery wears until Diamonds are Forever in the early ’70s. Fashionable tie widths decreased as ties became slimmer during the decade. Connery bowed out in 1967 just before wide became fashionable again.
Not coincidentally, Dr. No and Diamonds are Forever also mark the only two instances of Bond wearing a Windsor knot, which Ian Fleming reportedly hated:
Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor Knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.
— From Russia With Love
This sequence also marks an appearance of Bond’s steel Rolex Submariner 6538 dive watch, worn on his left wrist with a black leather strap.
Go Big or Go Home
The sequence at Miss Taro’s makes up for the rather shoddy chase scene with an image that remains a favorite with Bond fans. After setting up Miss Taro’s bungalow to look like Bond is vulnerable—stuffing his jacket into a corner, pouring drinks, and putting on low music—Bond sits in the dark and waits for his eventual assassin. When Professor Dent finally arrives, providing incontrovertible doubt regarding his guilt, Bond coolly guns him down with a cigarette clenched between his teeth and a half-finished game of solitaire next to him.
If you’d like to visit the location yourself, don’t put “Magenta Drive” in your GPS; whether you use 239 or 2171 as the house number, it doesn’t exist. Miss Taro’s “bungalow” was really a villa at the Grand Lido Sans Souci Hotel in Ochos Rios, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, where the crew was actually staying during the production. The Grand Lido has changed significantly in the last fifty-odd years and is now known as the luxurious Couples Sans Souci, boasting 150 suites, three restaurants, six bars, and four pools, including one natural mineral spring pool.
So, should you ever be visiting Jamaica, kick band James Bond style with the least obnoxious version of “Underneath the Mango Tree” you can find and mix yourself a vodka martini… using the unpoisoned Smirnoff, of course.
After being escorted from the airport by a treacherous chauffeur, Bond determines that he needs a car of his own. Enterprise evidently wasn’t picking up, so MI6 decided to give Bond the former car of the murdered man whose death he is investigating. At MI6, economy comes before scruples. Of course, Bond’s borrowed car, a 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Series II roadster in “lake blue”, is certainly more exotic than any mid-size fleet car he could’ve been given.
The first Sunbeam Alpine was introduced in 1953 as a two-door roadster with a 2267 cc four-cylinder engine. It was only produced for two years and bears little resemblance to the Alpine “Series” roadsters that I will discuss here, but a blue 1953 Alpine Mk I model appears as Grace Kelly’s car in To Catch a Thief.
In 1956, Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton were told to completely redesign the car for the American market. Howes, who had previously worked at Ford, brought his experience with the Thunderbird to the design. The first of the refreshed Alpine design rolled off the production line in 1959.
The version seen in Dr. No, the Series II, was developed two years later. The only major change was the enlarged Rootes engine (1592 cc compared to the Series I’s 1494 cc) that was capable of 80 bhp with its dual Zenith 36 carburetor and 4-speed manual gear box. Gear ratio was 3.89 or 4.22 with the optional electric overdrive.
Production of the Series II Alpine ended in February 1963 after almost 20,000 were made. The Motor magazine tested a Series II, recording a top speed of 98.6 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 13.6 seconds, and a 31 mpg fuel economy. The tested vehicle was a hardtop as opposed to the more popular soft top convertible, but the results should be comparable.
The Sunbeam Alpine was certainly tiny at just under 13 feet long with an 86 inch wheelbase that is nearly half the length of Jay Gatsby’s Rolls-Royce, discussed in Monday’s post. Despite its small size, the Alpine was still considerably heavy with its 2,219 pound weight. Although not as fast or prestigious as other contemporary sports cars (given its base price of around $2,500), the Sunbeam Alpine is a fun and very English roadster that is well-geared enough to handle well on a curving mountain road in Jamaica.
Body Style: 2-door convertible roadster
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 1592 cc (1.6 L) Rootes OHV I4 with a dual Zenith carburetor
Power: 80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS) @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 94 lb·ft (127 N·m) @ 3800 rpm
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Wheelbase: 86 inches (2184 mm)
Length: 155 inches (3937 mm)
Width: 61 inches (1549 mm)
Height: 51 inches (1295 mm)
In the Live and Let Die novel, published in 1954, James Bond visits Jamaica and borrows a Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Coupe from Cmdr. Strangways, marking an early association of Sunbeam cars with the Bond series. Four years later, in Dr. No, Bond returns to Jamaica and is given Strangways’ car while conducting his investigations.
Since Dr. No is among the more direct page-to-screen adaptations, it is logical that the producers would want Bond to be driving the same car as featured in the book. The Bond series had no known prestige yet, however, and Sunbeam denied the filmmakers’ request for a car. The Bond team turned to Jamaican locals, finally renting a lake blue Alpine Series II from a local for 12 shillings a day.
The Series II Alpine was available in six factory colors: moonstone, embassy black, carnival red, seacrest green, wedgewood blue, and lake blue. “Wedgewood blue” was more of a baby blue, while the lake blue is a richer and deeper color that would be far more appropriate for Bond. The plate number of the borrowed Alpine is #Z-8301.
For more information about Sunbeam Alpines, The Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club of America was an incredible helpful resource for me as I wrote this post.
Bond’s cold assassination of Professor Dent is one of the key moments in both this film and the entire Bond series. It has set the standard for “prey becomes predator” suspense, and even inspired a similar scene in Tomorrow Never Dies. Unfortunately, one of the key details of the scene – Bond’s gun – is all wrong.
The film made a big deal about arming Bond with a .32-caliber Walther PPK before he left for Jamaica. Of course, I’ve discussed how the production at the time was only able to get him a .380-caliber Walther PP in a previous post, and that fact is pretty well established among Bond fans. When we finally get a close-up of the gun, as he is preparing to kill Professor Dent, it is neither a Walther PP nor a Walther PPK but a FN Model 1910.
“Whoa, you mean it’s a totally different gun? That ruins the whole movie for me!” said nobody ever, hopefully.
Still, it seems to be a reasonably large oversight for a movie that has extended dialogue specifically referring to the make, model, and caliber of firearms. And, once again, the production team was unable to find a suppressor to fit the .380-caliber barrel of the Walther PP. Thus, they grabbed the most reasonable substitute, a .32-caliber FN Model 1910, and had Sean Connery shove the suppressor’s dowel into the barrel. Naturally, this sort of “mock” suppressor wouldn’t work since it would obstruct the path of the round as it exits the barrel and there are no screws to attach it. Luckily for EON Productions, they were able to find both a genuine .32-caliber Walther PPK and a correctly-fitting suppressor by the time of From Russia With Love.
When Bond is attaching the mock suppressor in Miss Taro’s bedroom, the serial #547094 can be clearly seen on the frame just above the right side of the trigger. FN Model 1910 serial numbers were in the 400,000s by the end of World War II. Armed with that knowledge, I would assume the Model 1910 with serial #547094 used in Dr. No was manufactured sometime in the early 1950s, just prior to the development of the Model 1955 by Browning Arms.
The FN Model 1910 had been developed in 1910, of course, and was designed by the legendary John Browning. Unlike his previous designs, which enjoyed European production by Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal in Belgium and American production by Colt, Colt chose not to produce this design, making it strictly patented and produced in Europe. One of Browning’s innovations for the pistol included an operating spring location surrounding the barrel, which would later be used in similar compact pistols like the Walther PPK. Previous Browning elements, like the triple safety (grip, magazine, external) and striker-firing mechanism from the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, carried over into the Model 1910. Like the later PPK, it was chambered in either .32 ACP with a seven-round magazine or .380 ACP with a six-round magazine, with only a barrel swap needed to change the pistol’s caliber.
In 1922, the FN Model 1910/22 was developed for the Yugoslavian market with a longer barrel and a longer grip frame for two more rounds. The Model 1910/22 was eventually produced in Belgium by the Nazis during World War II, branded with Nazi production stamps. Browning Arms finally decided an American version was needed in 1955, so the Browning Model 1955 was commissioned. Still made in Belgium, the Model 1955 enjoyed 13 years of importation into the U.S. until the Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal.
The Model 1910 gained historical significance soon after its introduction when Gavrilo Princip used a .380-caliber FN Model 1910 (serial #19074) to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914, igniting the powder keg that led to the start of World War I in Europe.
How to Get the Look
Bond stays traditional yet stylish with a classic blazer and slacks combination.
- Navy blue single-breasted blazer with notch lapels, 2-button front (gunmetal buttons), patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, double rear vents, and 2-button cuffs (gunmetal buttons)
- Dark gray flannel double forward-pleated trousers with “Daks top” 3-button tab side adjusters, slanted side pockets, jetted rear button-through right pocket, tapered leg, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Pale blue poplin long-sleeve Turnbull & Asser dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, and 2-button turnback/“cocktail” cuffs
- Navy blue grenadine woven silk Turnbull & Asser necktie, worn in a Windsor knot
- Black leather 3-eyelet plain-toe derby shoes
- Thin dark blue silk dress socks
- Rolex Submariner 6538 wristwatch on black strap
- Light brown chamois leather RHD shoulder holster with blue strap, fitted for compact semi-automatic pistol
Bond wears a white linen pocket square when he drops in on Professor Dent, but he isn’t wearing it for his “date” with Miss Taro. Perhaps he didn’t want her to think he was trying too hard.
Iconic Alternatives has a great rundown of affordable options to channel elements of this blazer and many other 007 outfits.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
I think they were on their way to a funeral.
I can’t resist one last firearms-related error from this scene. Professor Dent barges into Miss Taro’s room, firing six shots at the bed with his M1911A1 pistol. (For anyone who doesn’t know, aka no one who has read my blog, the M1911A1 is a standard semi-automatic pistol with a standard seven round magazine of .45 ACP ammunition. Like most semi-autos, the slide locks back when empty.) Later, Dent makes a last-ditch effort to kill Bond, reaching for his M1911A1 and pulling the trigger… getting only a click. Bond responds, “That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six,” before killing Dent.
Cool, but a couple glaring errors make gun guys like me twitch:
- Smith & Wesson didn’t make a version of the M1911A1 until much later. Even if they had, this was a standard Government Model from a time when all M1911A1s – whether made by Colt or Remington Rand – looked exactly the same, especially from a few feet away.
- All M1911A1 pistols, even the compact Colt Commander, carry at least seven rounds in the magazine.
Some have made the excuse that this was a direct line from the book, but neither this scene nor the characters of Professor Dent or Miss Taro existed in the book Dr. No. Perhaps the original screenplay called for Dent to have a Smith & Wesson revolver, which would make more sense as most full-size Smith & Wesson revolvers have six-round cylinders.
(By the way, yesterday’s post was the 200th for BAMF Style. Thanks for making this blogging thing so much fun!)