The vision of Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in Dr.No has come to epitomize the image of the ultimate Bond girl. This scene from the first Bond film is comparable in its impact to that of Marilyn Monroe's 'subway sequence' eight years earlier in The Seven Year Itch, and instantly secured for Andress screen immortality and international fame. A photograph, Andress' husband John Derek had taken of her, wearing a wet black shirt, secured the little known actress the part of the first Bond girl. Andress says "..It was a friend, Kirk Douglas, who read the script aloud to us and persuaded me to take the role...". Although she had been signed first to Paramount and then to Columbia pictures in the mid 1950s, Dr.No was the first role she had accepted. She says that she had agreed to take the part as although shy, she thought it would give her good experience. She also thought at the time, that few would see the film as it was a 'British' picture made on a very restricted budget and without any major stars, and largely filmed in Jamaica, a location which appealed to her.
Dr.No is significant as the first Bond film in the series, it was an innovative film which set the style for the subsequent films. As Raymond Benson remarks, ..It is difficult, in a Bond film, to determine if a particular sequence's success is the work of the director, the actor, the scriptwriter, or the editor... it was afterall Cubby Broccolli who insisted that all the films were collaborative efforts. Nevertheless, director Terence Young's contribution to the series, should not be underestimated. He is largely regarded to have been responsible with Dr.No for setting the pace for all future films in the series, and for establishing a sophistication and slickness with the first Bond film, which was unusual for the time. It is interesting to note that not only did Terence Young, an ex-army officer, introduce Sean Connery to his own tailor, Anthony Sinclair, who had premises just off Savile Row; Sinclair's traditional cut ...emphasized the gentlemanly background of 007 and subliminaly contributed to the success of the characterization..., but Young also took an equally active interest in the design of the first Bond girl's bikini. Young worked with Andress to design a costume that was both practical and eye-catching. Andress recalls that it was important that the design of the bikini should withstand the running, diving, jumping and swimming involved in her part. It is surprizing to think that she was only given this one bikini to wear throughout the shooting, especially when it's considered that she did her own stuntwork and that she recalls getting quite badly grazed on the coral on one occasion.
The distinctive look of the Bond series was initiated by Ken Adam in Dr. No with his sensational futuristic design for Dr. No's laboratory in the film. Another characteristic for the Bond series established in the original film, was the use of humour which provided something of a departure from Ian Fleming's novels. ...The audience is released from a tense action scene by a witty one-liner by Bond. The juxtaposition of gravity with levity was probably Terence Young's idea (with the aid of Connery's ad libs) [and input from scriptwriters Berkley Mather and Richard Maibaum]... and once again established a standard element of the style of the Bond films. A memorable example is given when Bond sees Honey Ryder for the first time wearing this white bikini - startled by Bond's unexpected appearance on Crab Key island, Ryder asks the stranger "What are you doing here? Looking for shells?" to which Bond responds glibly "No, I'm just looking.."
Generations of Bond fans agree that Ursula Andress' memorable entrance in Dr. No, wearing the bikini in this lot, set the standard by which all future Bond girls would be judged. Andress' appearance in this bikini also marked something of a departure for the time, heralding a new athletic, strong and independent look which suited the characterization of Honey Ryder perfectly. It also stood apart from the soft, rounded, curvaceous appearance and often subservient portrayal of female leads generally associated with her predecessors and peers on the screen in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Whatever factors contributed to Andress' success in Dr. No, as Honey Ryder, she remains unrivalled in her position as the quintessential Bond girl.