JAMES BOND: Doctor No by Ian Fleming

July 15, 2010
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Doctor No art from a paperback edition

ca·lyp·so – /kəˈlɪpsoʊ/ – a musical style of West Indian origin, influenced by jazz, usually having topical, often improvised, lyrics.

I’ve only been the Caribbean once. But I still greatly feel its tropical magnetism. Ian Fleming did too. The first James Bond film, Doctor No was set in Jamaica. It’s where Ian Fleming lived and where he wrote Doctor No. I think he really brought the flavour of the Caribbean to the story. Throw in a mysterious Chinese, a yellow peril type, complete with fire-breathing dragon – and that’s entertainment folks!

When you think about it, Doctor No has just about everything a James Bond movie would later come to epitomize. First, there’s the exotic locale, Jamaica! Then there’s the titular villain with a body quirk, Doctor No has functional metal hands. And finally there’s the beautiful and headstrong woman, Honey Rider. Her first appearance, on screen, is perhaps the best known scene in any James Bond movie. As we first meet this enterprising shell collector she’s singing a song to herself on the beach. It’s a calypso tune that goes … “Underneath the mango tree me honey and me…” |MP3|

Now while that’s a great scene, the original novel ain’t no slouch either. Check out the unabridged reading by Simon Vance…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Doctor No by Ian FlemingDr. No
By Ian Fleming; Read by Simon Vance
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 7 Hours 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2001
ISBN: 9781433258572 (cd), 9780786190720 (mp3-cd)
Sample |MP3|
M called this case a soft option. Bond can’t quite agree. The tropical island is luxurious, the seductive Honey Rider is beautiful and willing. But they are both part of the empire of Dr. No. The doctor is a worthy adversary, with a mind as hard and cold as his solid steel hands. Dr. No’s obsession is power. His only gifts are strictly pain-shaped.

In the novel, “Honeychile Rider” is described as “Botticelli’s Venus as seen from behind.” The movie has her in a bikini, in the novel she’s nude, except for a belt. In the movie she’s singing “Underneath The Mango Tree,” in the novel she’s whistling “Marianne.” Fleming describes “Marianne” as “a plaintive little Calypso that has now been cleaned up and made famous outside Jamaica.”

And it’s “Marianne” that’s used in the most recent incarnation of the Doctor No story, the BBC audio dramatization! And, in case you were wondering, it returns Honeychile to the nude.

I really like the movie, and the novel is definitely up there, but for me, now that I’ve heard it, the 2008 BBC audio dramatization of Doctor No is now my preferred version. It has that, sense of place, that a film gives, it plays up the mystery element, (which the movie downplays) and compresses the narrative with a “show, don’t tell” way that good audio drama really excels at.

I got a copy from RadioArchive.cc. The uploader there describes the audio dramatization like this:

Ian Fleming was never satisfied by the movie world’s take on James Bond. This dramatisation by Hugh Whitemore would meet with his approval as it is so faithful to the original novel. Bond, played here by Toby Stephens, is a wistful, vulnerable man as much as he is a fabulously fit and sexy hero. We hear him throwing up with fear after being crawled upon by a giant killer centipede, for example, which would never have done for Sean Connery. But both script and performances are true to Fleming’s vision of Bond.

And of course once you start looking into the actors biographies you start seeing all sorts of fascinating connections. Lucy Fleming, Ian Fleming’s neice plays a role. Toby Stephens has been in a Bond film and John Standing, who plays “M”, came from the family that owned Bletchley Park (the ultimate in espionage HQs if there ever was one)!

Now read a couple more of the listener reviews:

“Were this a movie, David Suchet [playing Dr. No] could have seriously expected an Oscar nomination, best Bond villain in any medium ever. Fantastic production all in all.”

“A splendid, sharp, slick adaptation, very faithful to Fleming’s writing. Makes you wonder why BBC hasn’t tackled more of these. And Toby Stephens is terrific as Bond.”

BBC Radio 4: Doctor No RADIO DRAMA - From left to right Nicky Henson, Martin Jarvis, John Standing, Janie Dee, Toby Stephens and Peter Capaldi

BBC Radio 4Dr. No
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming; Adapted by Hugh Whitemore; Performed by a full cast
Broadcast – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play
Broadcast: May 24, 2008
Provider: RadioArchive.cc
Bond is sent to investigate a strange disappearance on the island of Jamaica, and discovers that the heart of the mystery lies with a sinister recluse known as ‘Dr No’.

Cast:
‘M’ …… John Standing
Moneypenny …… Janie Dee
James Bond ……Toby Stephens
The Armourer …… Peter Capaldi
Chief of Staff …… Nicky Henson
Airport Announcer/Receptionist/Inika …… Leigh Wright
Airport Official/Pus-Feller/Henchman …… Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Quarrel …… Clarke Peters
Miss Chung/ Sister Lily …… Kosha Engler
Pleydell Smith …… Samuel West
Miss Taro/Telephonist/ Sister May/Tennis girl …… Jordanna Tin
Librarian …… Lucy Fleming
Honey Rider …… Lisa Dillon
Guard/Henchman/Crane Driver …… Jon David Yu
Dr No …… David Suchet
Acting Governor of Jamaica …… Simon Williams
Voice of Ian Fleming …… Martin Jarvis

Crew:
Music by Mark Holden and Samuel Barbour
Producer Rosalind Ayres
Director Martin Jarvis

DOCTOR NO - The People In This Story - From the Macmillian Readers Edition

PAN - Doctor No by Ian Fleming

[via Dictionary.com, BondMovies.com, Illustrated007 and Audible.com]
Posted by Jesse Willis

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