STORY OF THE SHOT
URSULA ANDRESS HAS
never understood the love for her iconic entrance in Dr. No. “I was just standing there doing my thing with shells by the sea and I couldn’t believe it appealed so much. That’s the fantastic opening? That was luck.” Honey Ryder (Andress) emerging from the water, watched by Bond (Sean Connery), is significant on more than one count: in the first 007 film, it cemented not only the notion of the ‘Bond girl’ but the feel of the series itself: impossibly glamorous, slightly cheeky and sexy in a PG way.
Producer Cubby Broccoli was looking for “an unknown with a new face who wouldn’t demand an outrageous salary”, effectively the criteria applied to his Bond. He cast the 25-year-old Andress after seeing a picture of her in the office of Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck. Ian Fleming’s novel describes Ryder, a shell scavenger, rising from the sea practically naked “like Botticelli’s Venus”. Censorship prevented nudity, so Andress sported a white bikini (it sold for $65,000 in
2001), a white webbing army belt and little else.
“Honey Ryder was a native girl and I was supposed to be very tanned,” recalled Andress. “I was just snow white. I had to stand naked in a room and get made up. Every other second, somebody was knocking on the door, ‘Breakfast!’ When we were finished there were about 20 trays of breakfast because everybody wanted to watch me get painted from top to bottom.”
The shot was captured on 6 February 1962 at the privately owned Laughing Waters Beach in Ocho Rios, St Ann, Jamaica, near Fleming’s home, Goldeneye. It was witnessed by the author and his wife Ann, who were out for a stroll with poet Stephen Spender and journo Peter Quennell, and were forced to dive to the ground to avoid the camera. The song Honey and Bond sing, Underneath The Mango Tree, was written by the film’s composer Monty Norman and sparked a war between the two co-stars. “Sean and I fought a bit trying to get the record player to learn how to sing the song,” said Andress. “He used to steal it away from me and I would steal it back. He sings much better than I do. I can’t carry a tune.” In the end, Andress’ thick Swiss speaking and singing voice was replaced by that of German actress Nikki van der Zyl.
The moment has carved out its own niche in pop culture, and has even been riffed on twice more in the Bond series: first in Die Another Day with Halle Berry and then in Casino Royale when Daniel Craig emerged from the sea clad in shorts so tight you could almost see his Q Branch. “I didn’t realise the repercussions of it,” Craig has said. “I had no idea I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life.” He should talk to Andress. Perhaps they could form a support group.
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