Dr. No cost a million dollars. That’s just under 8 million in today’s dollars, and about 40 or so if you go by the inflation rate of producing a film, as opposed to the consumer price index. But I still find this number to be astounding, especially considering all the came after it.
On the commentary on the DVD, they talk about how they had no money and worked with a small crew and basically made a 5 million dollar movie for a million dollars. Watching it, you can’t argue with that. One of the sets, a simple round ceiling window with a grate was created because, basically, Ken Adams had run out of money. It’s one of his signature sets, a classic.
They squeezed every last penny out of the budge using every piece of ingenuity and experience that they had. Even in the editing, they sped up the film and jump cut some of the action sequences. Sean Connery was nobody at the time. The action sequences are barely there. What’s really amazing to me is that it’s the James Bond character itself that carries the film. A lot of geniuses worked on this film, but what makes you love the film is watching James Bond operate. He sees the trap coming, then walks into it because he knows that’s where the fun is. He knows the girl tried to kill him, so he fucks her before handing her to the police. He even shoots a bad guy in the back. He’s just a fun, cool character to spend a couple hours with.
He’s just such a charismatic character. There must have been nothing like him at the time, because he’s still pretty singular. Even now, they’ve changed the character into something less than it was and more generic. They don’t mess around with brooding back story, or even a character arc. They just keep the story moving.
All I’m saying is that sometimes genius and experience get you further than a big budget.