Sean Connery as James Bond, cunning and sophisticated British government agent
Jamaica, Summer 1962
Film: Dr. No
Release Date: October 5, 1962
Director: Terence Young
Wardrobe Master: John Brady
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
Last year around this time, I covered the various swimwear sported by Sean Connery in Thunderball. Today, I’ll be looking at James Bond’s first cinematic beach visit, although his intent was more reconnaissance than leisure.
After a thorough investigation in Jamaica—which included a very bad date—Bond decides that his new target is undoubtedly the evil and enigmatic Dr. No, who has holed up on Crab Key with a small army of disposable minions and a standard megalomaniac plan to take over the world. As Bond himself says:
World domination. The same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Naploeon. Or God.
While the third act of many Bond films are 007 preparing for combat, he is merely expecting to continue his investigation by traveling to Crab Key.
James Bond: For me, Crab Key’s going to be a gentle relaxation.
Felix Leiter: From what? Dames?
James Bond: No, from being a clay pigeon.
And, of course, Bond’s sojourn in Crab Key is far from a relaxation “from dames” as he awakes the next morning to the sight of the most iconic Bond girl in the series.
When Ursula Andress emerges from the Caribbean and shakes herself off on the beach, it’s easy for many to forget that she was singing the film’s corny musical motif, “Underneath the Mango Tree”. Instead, the white bikini made far more of an impression on all viewers… male and female.
Well-tanned with a deadly knife in her belt, Honey Ryder set an early standard for Bond girls with whom few have been able to compare and none have surpassed. She was dangerous, beautiful, and simultaneously smart and vulnerable. Bond needed her help just as much as she needed his, and—although she was rendered the “helpless dame” for the film’s finale—she spent much of the time on Crab Key as Bond’s equal, helping navigate the island and proving just as willing as the other guys to go the extra mile.
Honey Ryder: Are you looking for shells too?
James Bond: No, I’m just looking.
So are we, Sean.
What’d He Wear?
If you want to incorporate Bond’s island wear into your wardrobe, you’ll need to be comfortable adorning light blue cotton from head to toe… or at least shoulder to shin. Criticism has been levied at the ensemble for some of its more dated aspects—particularly the trousers—but there’s no denying that this would be a simple and comfortable outfit for exploring a tropical island, whether or not a handless megalomaniac is there with goons hunting you down with Bren guns.
Since this is the first film in the series, the filmmakers wisely kept closely to the source material, excising bits deemed unnecessary and adding some to give 007 more opportunities to shamelessly bed-hop. In Chapter 7 of the novel Dr. No, we are told the following before Bond’s journey to Crab Key:
Bond fitted himself out with cheap black canvas jeans and a dark blue shirt and rope-soled shoes.
Although we are never specifically told more than the color, it’s logical to assume that Fleming intended Bond to wear one of his usual short-sleeve dark blue Sea Island cotton button-up shirts. In the film, Bond wears a light blue cotton knit short-sleeve polo shirt.
The polo strikes me as a more logical choice than a button-up shirt, although there is no real way of knowing which shirt Fleming was indicating. Connery’s polo is very soft with a soft collar and two dark plastic buttons on the front placket, both of which remain unfastened throughout the sequence.
Iconic Alternatives offers some guidance in finding a light blue polo like 007’s, though a variation on the Crab Key polo was designed for Orlebar Brown’s exclusive 007-inspired collection, released in May 2019. The “007 Riviera Towelling Polo” made from 100% cotton toweling fabric is a luxurious alternative to the poplin screen-worn shirt.
Bond tucks his shirt into his casual flat front trousers, which are a nearly identical shade of light blue. They are made of lightweight cotton, and Matt Spaiser of The Suits of James Bond suggests poplin in his post about this outfit.
The trousers have an extended waistband with a double hook-and-bar closure. Like his suit trousers, they have side-tab adjusters rather than belt loops, but these trousers are slightly different with only a single button on each side.
Taking a closer look at some production photos, specifically the suggestive one below of Sean Connery and Ursula Andress, we get a little more details about the distinctive trouser waistband. Both the single side tab button and the two decorative studs in the front over the waist tab hooks are silver squares with three black inner squares with each inner square progressively reduced in size for a “vertigo” effect.
The trousers have frogmouth front pockets, which keep the silhouette of the trousers intact rather than slanted or on-seam pockets which tend to gape open. Frogmouth pockets—similar to the rounded pockets found on most standard denim jeans—are slightly less practical for pocket access, but they make sense for outfits like this worn without a jacket. Since the side pockets of his suit trousers are almost always covered by the jacket, the “gape factor” is much less of an issue there.
Despite this, Connery also appears to have worn a second pair of trousers during the water scenes. I missed this when I first took screenshots, but Matt Spaiser’s blog points out that the water scenes feature a pair of trousers that undoubtedly have slanted pockets. Interestingly, these trousers are exactly the same in every other respect: right down to the waistband buttons. For photos contrasting the trousers, check out Matt’s blog post!
The trousers have plain-hemmed bottoms, making them the only pants in Dr. No to have them, although Bond typically rolls them up since he spends a great deal of time kicking around in the water. The rear pockets are jetted, and Bond often uses his right rear pocket for his Walther since he didn’t wear his holster to Crab Key.
This is one of the more dated outfits of the early Bond films, mostly since Connery’s suits are so timeless, with much debate surrounding the trousers. While these would likely be updated with jeans in a modern version (like the dark blue polo and jeans of the Bolivian combat scene in Quantum of Solace), I think that the light blue cotton polo and trousers are a fine accompaniment with Connery’s complexion and contextually make sense with the story. The cotton trousers especially would be cool and comfortable for an active mission near the water, especially considering the average high temperature of 86.5°F during the month of January when the scene was filmed.
We learned in Chapter 7 of Dr. No that Bond’s shoes are rope-soled. In Chapter 13, we get a little more information about Bond’s footwear on Crab Key:
…she in her rags and he in his dirty blue shirt and black jeans and muddy canvas shoes.
The book doesn’t offer a color, but it’s reasonable to assume that the navy blue canvas deck shoes sported by Connery in the film aren’t far from Fleming’s intended mark. The film shoes have two eyelets for dark blue laces and white ribbed rubber soles that soon fall victim to the muddy beaches of Crab Key. Although they are an appropriate choice of footwear for the situation, Bond wisely discards them early and spends most of the mission in bare feet. While this might not be the most hygienic option, it allows him to move much freer without the danger of his shoes getting weighed down and stuck in the mud.
And once we do see Bond’s shoes caked with mud, they are a different pair of slip-on loafers. This is a brief—and likely intentional—continuity error, as Bond’s laced deck shoes are back when he and Honey are escorted into Dr. No’s headquarters.
The only accessory of Bond’s simple attire is his Rolex Submariner Oyster Perpetual 6538 on a black leather strap. The Rolex has a black bezel and dial and is water resistant to 200 meters (or 660 feet). Unfortunately, the watch is taken by Dr. No’s henchmen, and Bond leaves it behind when he and Honey eventually abandon the island and get away to safety. (Spoiler, sorry.)
After becoming Dr. No’s prisoner, Bond and Honey submit themselves to the attire of Crab Key. The SPECTRE “nurses” outfit them each in a light blue terrycloth bathrobe. Bond’s has a shawl collar, sash-tying belt, and patch breast and hip pockets.
For dinner, Bond embraces his host’s Eastern roots by donning a brown silk Nehru jacket with a welted breast pocket complete with a neatly folded white linen pocket square. Underneath, he wears a plain white short-sleeve crew-neck t-shirt which sustains some pretty heavy damage while escaping from his jail cell.
Bond also digs in the closet and finds a pair of khaki flat front trousers that are magically exact replicas of the light blue ones he wore earlier, only with slanted pockets rather than frogmouth pockets. A reasonable in-film explanation would be that SPECTRE has had Bond under surveillance and thus tailored clothing similar to his to ease his comfort while staying with them, especially since Dr. No shows an interest in Bond’s defection to SPECTRE. This theory is further balanced when Bond finds a pair of navy blue canvas shoes that perfectly match the ones he wore when he was captured.
Go Big or Go Home
While the easiest way to emulate Bond is to drink like him, his preferred choice of Dom Pérignon 1953 is a bit impractical when you’re investigating a tropical island. In the novels, particularly Dr. No and The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond delves into his Jamaican surroundings with a few rounds of Red Stripe beer. Connery himself also evidently enjoyed a bit of Red Stripe, as some behind-the-scenes photos suggest.
Red Stripe also showed up earlier in the film Dr. No as the preferred drink of Quarrel.
Of course, Red Stripe would be difficult to come by in a remote island location, Jamaica or not. Crab Key, the island where Dr. No set up shot, does not actually exist. All “Crab Key” scenes were filmed along the north shore of the Jamaican coastline in January and February of 1962. With record high temperatures in the 90s, the sunny locale would have been a welcome retreat for the mostly English crew.
The Crab Key scenes were filmed mostly around Ocho Rios, about fifty miles north of Kingston. Bond and Quarrel arrive near the Ocho Rios waterfalls, and Ursula Andress was filmed famously emerging from the sea at Laughing Waters, now known as Crab Key beach.
Dr. No’s bauxite mine, filmed at the real life Kaiser Terminal bauxite mine, is also nearby on the A3 coast road near Ocho Rios. The mangrove swamp where Quarrel was killed by the dragon swamp and Bond and Honey were finally captured was at Falmouth, just about forty miles west. Of course, if you’d rather not crawl through swamps to get there, you can hop onto the A1 coastal road and drive about an hour to Falmouth. Falmouth, the birth place of Usain Bolt, is considered to be one of the best-preserved Georgian towns in the Caribbean. It was founded in 1769 by Thomas Reid and is noted for having piped water even before New York City.
According to a great moviefone article, mentioned below:
The Jamaican setting was kept, of course, and the visual potential of the ocean-resort setting was spectacularly realized in Honey Ryder’s emergence from the surf in a bikini, with a knife in her belt. To play her, producers cast Swiss actress Ursula Andress just two weeks before filming began, based on a photograph of her that they’d seen. The filmmakers had to spray on her tan and dub her heavily-accented voice, but she still filled the bill and remains one of the most popular Bond girls in the franchise’s history.
Honey Ryder is often voted the best Bond girl in fan polls, even beating out memorable but ill-fated women like Tracy di Vicenzo and Vesper Lynd. She had none of the helplessness of the series’ later damsels-in-distress, and she wasn’t easily swayed into Bond’s alliance with a simple swing of his ego. It was these qualities that likely made John Pearson choose her as Bond’s lifetime companion in his 1973 “authorized biography” of 007.
The dynamic of the two is best exemplified when Honey proudly reveals how she took revenge on a rapist.
Honey Ryder: I put a black widow spider underneath his mosquito net… a female, they’re the worst. It took him a whole week to die. (noticing Bond’s shocked reaction) Did I do wrong?
James Bond: Well, it wouldn’t do to make a habit of it.
As everyone knows, the limited production budget of Dr. No meant that the now-legendary Walther PPK associated with Bond was actually replaced with a Walther PP. Furthermore, the pistol was chambered in .380 ACP (9×17 mm Kurz) rather than the stated .32 ACP (7.65 mm). Obviously, the film wasn’t directed by a firearms stickler like Michael Mann but rather by a fashionable clotheshound like Terence Young.
(Nothing against Young, of course. Young was a BAMF in his own right, having served as a tank commander during Operation Market Garden in World War II. Coincidentally, Sean Connery would later join the ensemble cast of A Bridge Too Far… a film about Operation Market Garden!)
Introduced in 1929, two years before its PPK variant, the Walther PP became quickly popular in Europe as a reliable and concealable police pistol. Like the older Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, it was offered for two of the most popular cartridges of the era, the 9×17 mm Kurz (or .380 ACP) and the 7.65 mm (or .32 ACP), but the Walther offered a slight reduction in size that gave it an edge in terms of concealed carry over the venerable Colt.
Where the Colt Model 1903 weighed 24 ounces, an unloaded PP weighed only 23 ounces. The Colt 1903 was 7″ long with a 4″ barrel; the Walther PP was 6.7″ long with a 3.9″ barrel. Never before had a pistol been so compact yet so reliable. Offering a magazine of either eight .32 or seven .380 rounds—also like the Colt—the PP ensured that a person could have a reasonable amount of firepower without much physical burden. The PPK, which Ian Fleming would eventually issue to his fictional spy, was even smaller with a length just over six inches and a 3.3″ barrel. Due to its size, the PPK would soon eclipse the PP in popularity until, eventually, production of the PP would cease in favor of the PPK and its variants.
The actual Walther PP used by Sean Connery in Dr. No was auctioned by Christie’s on December 5, 2006, raking in $106,704. Its serial number was #19174A; tracking the serial number reveals that Bond’s PP was manufactured in 1940… likely for the Nazi German war machine. Based on the photos, it had been fitted with new grips and a different magazine with an extension spur (as seen in the above photo). The auction included Bond’s firearms from many films from Dr. No through Die Another Day.
In yet another firearms-related continuity error, Bond’s PP briefly changes to a full-size M1911A1 pistol while firing at “the dragon” on Crab Key. This leads me to believe that the PP used in the film may have been a non-firing model, as the 1911 is only used in shots where Bond is shooting. The surrounding shots of Bond preparing to shoot and surrendering to Dr. No’s men all use the same PP.
In the book Dr. No, Bond is famously assigned both his new PPK and a Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight, with 007 curiously being told that the latter weapon is deemed appropriate for “long range work”. This is odd given that the Centennial Airweight only has a 2″ barrel compared to the 3.3″ barrel of the PPK. Also, the Centennial Airweight is a snubnose revolver, also known as a “belly gun”, which was developed for the sole purpose of close range combat (for any of you who cannot read between the lines, this is the exact opposite of “long range”).
Despite this, I do agree with the literary Bond’s decision to pack a revolver rather than his semi-automatic. In a sticky and wet tropical climate without many opportunities for field stripping or daily maintenance, a semi-automatic pistol like the PPK has too many varying parts. The PPK would give Bond two or three extra rounds before reloading, but the chance of a maintenance-related misfire wouldn’t be worth it. Furthermore, the novel’s Bond had only received his PPK a few weeks earlier with no chance to test it in the field. Firearms expert or not, Bond was wise to take a simple point-and-shoot weapon like the revolver rather than the relatively unfamiliar Walther when heading into an alien situation.
How to Get the Look
Bond’s Crab Key attire has been criticized by some for being dated and impractical for a combat mission, but it should be kept in mind that Bond was simply planning on doing some seaside recon. Light blue casual wear is a very reasonable and practical choice.
- Light blue cotton knit short-sleeve polo shirt with a 2-button collar
- Light blue cotton poplin flat front trousers with plain-hemmed bottoms, single-button side-tab adjusters, extended waistband, frogmouth front pockets, and two jetted rear pockets
- Navy blue canvas 2-eyelet deck shoes with dark blue laces and white ribbed soles
- Rolex Submariner 6538 wristwatch with a black dial and black leather strap
And for all potential Bonds out there who want their own personal Bond girl to emulate Honey, you can try to buy the iconic white bikini from Planet Hollywood… you should be warned, however, that the chain’s owner Robert Earl paid $60,000 for it through a Christie’s auction back in 2001. He’s probably going to ask for a little more.
The bikini even has its own Wikipedia page, which all 21st century dwellers know is a sure sign that you’ve made it. According to the page:
Andress designed the bikini along with Dr. No’s costume designer Tessa Prendergast, whom she first met while living in Rome. Andress reported that when she arrived in Jamaica for filming, no costumes were ready.
She worked with director Terence Young and the costume designer to create something that fit her 5’6″, 36–24–36 frame. It was made from ivory cotton and was the only one made and worn by her. It is a white belted, hipster style bikini… The lower part of the bikini features a wide white British Army belt with brass buckles and fittings, and a scabbard on the left side to hold a large knife.
I don’t know much about women’s fashion, but that’s one badass bathing suit.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Bond is full of little digs that put Dr. No in his place, even when the villain clearly has the upper hand:
Tell me, does the toppling of American missiles really compensate for having no hands?
moviefone has a spectacular listicle, “25 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Dr. No’, The First James Bond Movie”, that provided a lot of information used in writing this post. One of the facts, which I paraphrased in the background section:
At the time the deal was struck, Thunderball was the most recent James Bond novel, but legal ensnarlments with McClory kept the book’s film rights out of Broccoli and Saltzman’s reach. Fleming had also signed away the rights to the introductory 007 novel, Casino Royale. So the producers settled on the sixth book, Doctor No, largely because they recognized that Honey Ryder’s entrance would be an iconic moment that would validate the whole project.
The next two facts also shed some interesting light on the film’s screenplay:
To write the film, the producers enlisted Richard Maibaum, who had handled classified film footage for the U.S. Army during World War II and had used his knowledge of intelligence work to write other spy-thriller screenplays… Maibaum teamed up with Wolf Mankowitz, who later decided that Dr. No was so shoddy that he demanded the removal of his name from the credits. (Oops.)
And finally, about the good doctor himself:
Maibaum and Mankowitz had a hard time getting a handle on how to write the villain. They didn’t want him to be a Fu Manchu caricature. They considered making him a white man who disguised himself as Chinese with a latex mask; another draft of the script had him accompanied by a capuchin monkey. Finally, they made him the refined, ruthless Eurasian, with an apparent Western education and tastes, though Wiseman still worried that he was playing a caricature out of a Charlie Chan mystery, and the character’s supposed absurdity was what made Mankowitz take his name off the film.
The moviefone article has a ton of other information, many of which I was learning for the first time… pretty surprising for a self-declared Bond junkie like myself.
Finally, since you’ve all been such patient readers, here’s one more photo of Honey before I go.