Made on a budget of $1 million, “Dr. No” was, as Sean Connery told the BBC, a “poverty-stricken production.” Though it eventually came to be seen as a classic and kicked off cinema’s most enduring franchise, at the time it was a gamble for United Artists. Bond was yet to command the kind of cultural recognition he does today, and the studio kept producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli on a tight leash. But while the project itself may have struggled to match the classiness of its central character, its director certainly didn’t.
In fact, if you ask Connery, it was Terrence Young that was responsible for much of Bond’s seemingly effortless style. The actor’s working-class roots had provided him with all the braun necessary to play England’s greatest spy, but Young’s influence was key in adding the sly sophistication Connery’s Bond would become known for. As the actor told Indiewire:
“Terence’s contributions were enormous because he was always a great bon vivant. He was very much up on the latest shirts and blazers and was very elegant himself — whether he had money or not — and all the clubs and that kind of establishment. And also he understood what looked good — the right cut of suits and all that stuff, which I must say was not that particularly interesting for me. But he got me a rack of clothes and, as they say, could get me to look convincingly dangerous in the act of playing it.”
That wasn’t the first time Connery credited his “Dr. No” director with shaping his portrayal of Bond. In a previous BBC interview, he noted how Ian Fleming was, “very bright, very erudite” but, “a real snob,” and how Young’s humor and sophistication was, “the greatest influence.”