Dr. No: a DVD review

Dr. No was reviewed using a DVD player equipped with a Dolby Pro-Logic Surround Sound system. Bonus DVD Features: Digital VideoDiscs (DVD) offer creators the chance to include bonus features impossible to implement on videocassette. These features include multiple spoken soundtracks, production notes and movie trailers. It seems natural that a Bond title would be full of hidden gadgets like these!

All of MGM`s 007 titles to date were released with both wide screen and reduced “pan and scan” formats. Differences between them are like comparing James Bond 007 to Dean Martin as Matt Helm. One has a lot more treasures inside than the other does for the spy fan. Wide screen, of course, presents all the panoramic views and action on the sides of the frame, which the director originally intended to be seen. Pan and scan is a byproduct of watching films formatted to fit onto squared television screens.

Dr. No has been digitally remastered through THX. In a way, this seems odd. The movie was originally recorded in mono audio output so this DVD unfortunately is constricted to mono as well. There is no “audio surround” to the new release but to justify the re-master, however, all you need is to look at the ultra-crisp video quality. There is no grainy texture to the new print whatsoever! For the truest comparison, watch a scene from the movie then watch the added trailer, which has not been retouched. Not bad digital work on your screen for a 37-year old film!

“No” features three language tracks; French, Spanish and (thank goodness!) English. The foreign language tracks are handled better in Dr. No than in Moonraker, for example. All background speech has been translated (as far as I can tell!)! Subtitles toggle on and off with ease also. No spelling errors this time! (More than may be said for DVDs from another manufacturer.)

My favorite bonus of a Bond DVD is always the theatrical trailers section. The first Bond I remember in the theatre was “A View To A Kill” so I have seen numerous trailers in the DVD releases for the first time. The “Dr. No” trailer is most interesting with the voiceover performed by Connery himself, who outlines the plot and giving this trailer a “debriefing” feel. (I would contend that the other best was Pierce Brosnan`s teaser for GoldenEye.)

Once again, however, DVD “Direct Access to Bond Gadgets” leaves a sour taste. It does an admirable job demonstrating DVD format but grows tiresome quickly. The best use I can think of for this section is for quick settlement of trivia disputes, but even then…“No” also provides a montage entitled “007`s Greatest Moments”. As could be expected, some of the greatest escapes from all the Bonds are showcased splendidly here. MGM did a top-notch job with this section, even letting less knowledgeable fans see subtitles, identifying all the clips for trivia buffs.

The “Film Trivia” section includes items of interest about the origins of James Bond’s name and where “007” may have been derived from. If you can’t afford the DVD release, let me tell you that this corker says that Fleming saw the “007 bus line” outside a window from his home in Jamaica! The limited trivia section is still an interesting disc bonus. In summary, Dr. No is a very strong showing from MGM. The mono-only audio is disappointing but does not reflect on an otherwise superb effort. A very worthy addition to your DVD collection, 007!

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