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Monday, January 05, 2009

Lair Report: James Bond in "Doctor No"

As promised, this is the first in a series of "Lair Reports" highlighting various lairs, minions, and overlords from popular culture.

This time was start with the granddaddy of them all, the 1962 James Bond film, "Doctor No."

This certainly isn't the best James Bond lair (though it's good), or villain, or movie, but it is the one that sets the standards by which all others are measured. It's the movie that launched a thousand cliches!

In the film, Bond travels to the Caribbean to investigate what may be causing U.S. missile and rocket launches to malfunction. He uncovers rumors about the mysterious Doctor No, and strange goings on at his private island, Crab Key.

Eventually Bond arrives on Crab Key, loses his guide to a flame-shooting tank, picks up a half-dressed Ursula Andress, is captured, escapes, in infiltrates the lair just as Doctor No's evil plan is coming to fruition.

You figure out the rest.


Of course, what we're interested in here is the lair and its occupants. I'm going to try and develop a standardized system by which lairs can be compared. Individual features will be ranked from zero (not present) to ten (most excellent).

Forgive me, as the system will probably be refined as we go along, though Doctor No should provide a decent template.

The Overlord:

Appearance: Anglo actor in Asian makeup.
Rank 3

Dress: Chairman Mao suits, plastic radiation hoods. Rank 5

Special Abilities, features, or disfigurements: Mechanical hands under black rubber gloves. Rank 8


Minion Type: Basic human, including Chinese guards and soldiers, female Chinese housekeepers, and assorted generic technical types. Rank 4

Minion Uniforms: Chinese looking military uniforms, color coded and transparent radiation suits, nurse-like dresses for the housekeepers. Rank 6 (Add points for color coding, subtract points for those dresses.)

Special Minion Equipment: Assorted guns and machine guns. Radiation detectors. Rank 3

Patrol boats equipped with machine guns. Fire breathing dragon tank. Rank 8

The Lair:

Scenic Crab Key. Blue waters, white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, waterfalls, and Ursula Andress in a bikini. It doesn't get better than this! Rank 10

Exterior: It's disguised as a mine. Or it's under-water. Or something. We really don't see much of it from the outside. Rank 2

Lair Nerve Center: Check. Massive control room with nuclear reactor and satellite control station. Rank 8

Easily Accessible Man-sized Ventilator Ducts: Check! It all starts here! Rank 10

Overlord Bachelor Pad: Check! Includes "mod" fireplace, antiques, and a gigantic aquarium that magnifies its fish to look even bigger. Rank 8

Guest Accommodations: Check! Includes both Spartan holding cells (with easy access to the ventilator system via a poorly protected vent), and luxury "gilded cage" apartments, complete with room service and pointlessly-drugged coffee. Rank 9

Easy to Identify Self-destruct Feature: Check! Just turn the dial up to "Really Dangerous!" Rank 10

Special Lair Features: Dragon tank garage, nuclear reactor, "hot room" with robot waldo-arms to handle radioactive materials, underground corridors with vault-like doors, radiation decontamination room with conveyor-belt showers, fluffy towels, and anti-radiation gas-pumps, retractable anti-satellite antenna, interrogation room with cool, shadow-casting, circular skylight. Rank 7

More Illogical than Usual Design Flaws: The easily accessible air ducts in Doctor No's lair periodically flood with water for no apparent reason (reactor coolant?). Parts of them also heat up (from the nuclear reactor?). Maybe it's just me, but I prefer not to have hot reactor cooling water spewing out of my air-conditioning ducts!

Also, Doctor No has foolishly located his entire control room inside the nuclear reactor chamber, so that the operators actually had to wear radiation suits, even when operating the missile control equipment that had nothing to do with the reactor. I just can't see how this is a good idea.

Rank: -8


This is the definitive lair, but not the best. Most all the essential features are here (and many of them originate here), but many lack the scope and refinement that will follow.

Still, this movie is a must-see for any lairophile. We give it a gloved thumbs-up


Ayesongs said...

I always had a soft spot for this movie. Great idea to apply a scientific grading system to the lairs. This way we can ensure victory over MI6 next time!

I think the oversized ventilation ducts get an unduly harsh treatment here. Weren't they a double bluff to lure unwary British agents into a rat maze full of ingenuous traps and tortures? Hence the apparently random areas of hot and cold and electrified grilles - and the flushing. However, this may have been more apparent in the book.

The interrogation room is cool. I especially like the low-lighting that nicely emphasises the spider in the cage.

Good job, Dr No, but could do better.

The Commander.

Anonymous said...

First, I think you under rate the inclusion of the thermo-nuclear devise. This says to me "this is a first rate operation here". Second, I think you have to add more for the inclusion of the bachelor pad lounge area. In today's lair, this touch of class is often missing (sorely missing). And C), I didn't know Doc No was supposed to be Chinese (whoda thunk it?) If this was supposed to be the case, then the use of nonlocal labor is a huge thumb down. He missed a big cost saver in my book.

J. Steven York said...

Doctor No would get more points for the nuclear reactor if A: He knew how to run the stuff well enough that he didn't lose his hands to radiation, B: He had sense enough to put his control room outside the reactor chamber, and C: It didn't have a big ol' "Danger" dial up there for anyone to see (and above the reactor pool, so that if you need to get to it in an emergency, you've got to get on a catwalk above a boiling, radioactive, moat).

When I gave Doctor No an 8 for his bachelor pad, I know I had some specific thought of one that was better. Maybe Blofeld's ski-lodge in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," complete with hypnotized harem. Maybe something else.

Doctor No was raised in China, but born of Chinese and German parents. What this means to management styles, I do not know.