“Dr No: That’s a Dom Perignon ’55, it would be a pity to break it.
James Bond: I prefer the ’53 myself.”- Terrence Young, Dr. No
(My) Wine Thoughts: Blanc de Noir’s taste is comparable to something you would buy at Korbel. It’s a balanced mix of dry and sweet. However, there’s something about it that makes me think but that it would be better as part of a cocktail. The bubbles are a little harsh. While it’s a fun refresher, I think it’s better enjoyed once in awhile and in a mimosa. 3 Stars
(My) Movie Thoughts: Dr. No was the first bond movie I was introduced to and the only Bond movie I owned in my childhood. I remember being a little girl watching the James Bond marathons on t.v. with my father around Thanksgiving time. This is how we bonded. Silently watching James Bond beat up whatever member of S.P.E.C.T.R.E was featured in that film. Another reason Dr. No held a special place in my heart was because I didn’t own many movies growing up. My parents didn’t see the value in owning them when you could just rent movies. So, I’m the first to admit that there is a fair bit of sentimentality for me as far as the series goes. As an adult, cinematically speaking, it is still iconic. It’s action packed and riveting. Considering the era it was made in and the budget it was made with, it still stands the test of time in many ways. The character of James Bond comes alive through Sean Connery who oozes retro charm. In fact, to this day I refuse to acknowledge any other actor who has taken on this role. However, it is not without its faults. Re-watching it with my current socio-political outlook, I was floored by some of it’s racist depictions. There is quite a bit of yellow face in Dr. No. Although this not surprising for the time period, it’s still disturbing and cringeworthy. Examples of yellow face can be seen with the villains Dr. No and Miss Taro, who are white actors in Chinese clothing, wearing eyeliner and darker foundation to appear Chinese. Other depictions are slightly less overt but nonetheless still horrible. Quarrel, Bond’s temporary sidekick, is the epitome of a Sambo stereotype- dimwitted, fun loving and lazy. He is childlike in comparison to confident and assured Bond, who in one scene has to assure him that there are no such things as dragons. The sexism I was less floored by. It’s still gross to watch, but as a feminist who grew up watching Bond films I already expected it and mentally prepared for it during my rewatch. However I felt unease when Bond corners Miss Taro and coerces her into sleeping with him knowing full well she expected him to die on his way to her and had to keep him busy until other henchmen showed up. This scene was extremely unnerving. I think Zina Hutton, writing for The Mary Sue, an online feminist article, summarized most of my feelings about Dr. No here: https://www.themarysue.com/bond-girl-dr-no/. However I can’t stomach some of her naivety regarding the characterization of Quarrell and her comment about not hiring actors of color based on nepotism. These statements are tone deaf. Production companies are still not hiring people of color and it has nothing to do with nepotism and everything to do with racism. 3 Stars
(My) Comparison: Context appears to be the most important comparison I can draw between the film and wine of this week. Just like there’s an appropriate time and place for sparkling wine there’s specific context in which to interact with retro Bond films. Popping a bottle of sparkling wine during a funeral is disrespectful and inappropriate, but in a mimosa or during a birthday or celebration it becomes another thing entirely. Absolving retro Bond films of their racism and sexism would be wrong. However ignoring it is just as bad. It should not exist in a bubble. Instead it should serve to educate and open up dialogue surrounding race and sex. Sadly, we cannot go back and change these jarring, ugly and inaccurate depictions of poc’s instead we must learn from them and use them as a reminders of what we need to change as a society.
(My) My Weekly Winner: All in all would I recommend Dr. No? Probably not. Despite my connection to it, I realize that by today’s standards it wouldn’t be right to tout this film without recognizing and discussing its many flaws. I’m going to say the sparkling wine wins!
(W’s) Wine Thoughts: Champagne! So called because it originates from, well, Champagne! Much like the way Scotch is only Scotch if it’s from Scotland, Champagne is really only considered Champagne if it’s from Champagne (OMG we are going to need a ‘Champagne’ counter on this blog entry). The drink of revelers worldwide. At least after people like Toulouse-Lautrec were hired to market it as such. We are all guilty of popping a cork or two at new years and spraying half the bottle on our friends who regret being at our stupid party to begin with. You’re saying to yourself, ‘I thought this was a wine and movie blog!.’ You’re right! It is. When it comes to sparkling wine we are looking for the same positive (or negative, I guess) traits that the wines we all know and love have, except this time with addition of fun bubbles! After all, before sparkling wine becomes sparkling it starts out as regular old wine to begin with. We want a balance between the fruit, acid, secondary flavors and the bubbles. If, for example, the acid is too sharp or the barrel flavors are too prominent (if it was aged in wood that is) we would consider this an unbalanced wine and therefore less than desireable…but with the addition of bubbles! Make sense? Great! On the nose: Limes and lemons, strawberries. All around the wine has very quiet subtle notes upon sticking your nose into the glass. The more I dig into it though the more it smell like summer to me. Fresh. Light. Easy breezy covergirl-esque. It makes me want to swim in the river on a hot day or a crisp summer night. When I take a sip: Whoa bubbles! If you’re familiar with Belgian beer then we should hangout some time…but seriously this has the same mouth feel. Very lively carbonation, same feel as a saison. The bubbles are crisp and explosive. The are much smaller than the bubbles in a can of Coke, it’s more like drinking a nitrogenated beer or a softer farmhouse style beer. As for flavors…not a whole lot happening here…apple juice…uhh…apples…really frothy apples? Feels like I have a middle school science project in my mouth. Like an apple baking soda volcano. Sparkling wine is probably best left to the Champagners…Champagnians? The French. 2 Stars
(W’s) Movie Thoughts: Let me begin by saying please don’t think less of me for what I say herein. Champagne from the source is a true, real and organic experience. It’s the original sparkling wine, or at the very least the widely accepted traditional sparkling wine. And steeped in tradition it is. Bond movies, over the course of the last 3,000 years, have stayed pretty much the same. They are steeped in their own (boring?) tradition as well, the same opening, the same shadowy villains, the same loveless relationships with apparently very murderable women who all seem to suffer the same sad fate. Daniel Craig was a welcomed revitalization but how different was he? His serious nature and off the bat action packed sequences were kind of facsimiles of previous entries. Boring, goofy mildly explosive entries in an aging franchise. Goldeneye was immediately explosive and fun, Dr. No has the most serious Bond I have ever seen. These are all well and good. But they aren’t Champagne! Lost in the mix however, underneath piles of wannabes is one man. One true bond. One true Champagne. In the same way that sparkling wine from anywhere but Champagne isn’t considered Champagne, if it isn’t Roger Moore, it isn’t Bond. Moore is my bottle of choice. He’s my first. And you never forget your first.
But I digress.
The movie is not without its many, many flaws. Flaws showcasing a time since passed but a mindset still, well very set in place. Archaic archetypes for female characters, painfully simple minded characters only ever portrayed by people of color. The hard pill to swallow here is how much this has permeated our pop culture. Like a tainted torch of bigotry passed down from decade to decade showing up in places (often parodied but sometimes sincere) like Austin Powers, Archer, The Incredibles, anything and everything Quentin Tarantino. Dr. No has left it’s mark for better or worse. All in all it is easy to see the influence here. But it’s so aggressively dated and cringey it’s hard to appreciate. Watching Dr. No is like sitting down with your elderly great uncle, listening to him tell stories of how awesome he used to be but also how white folks are the preeminent race and how eugenics gets a bad rap. 1 Stars
(W’s) Comparison: Across the board not enough Roger Moore. Both are fairly one note. Old school spy movie v.s. a California take on an unbeatable original? They both have obvious problems and better options abound!
(W’s) Weekly Winner: Gloria Ferrer for making me nostalgic for 6th grade science!
The weekly winner is sparkling wine!
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, California
Dr. No. Dir. Terence Young, United Artists, 1962. Film.