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Bond, James Bond.

21. February 2019 07:39
by m

Dr. No Rare Uncut Version 1st Beta/VHS release 1982

21. February 2019 07:39 by m | 0 Comments

James Bond 007 Dr No 20th Century Fox VHS CoverBack in 2013 I read a post on the MI6 Community Forums about the existence of an uncensored version of Dr. NoDr. No that had been briefly released on video tape in 1982. I doubt this is where the legend began, but it's as good a starting point as any. I have read through the entire twelve page thread a few times now. Most of it is about the GoldeneyeGoldeneye and Living Daylights workprints, so I have edited it down to just the highlights pertinent to our discussion:

bondsum  June 2013 Interesting, @Gunbarrels007. Could you tell me what's on the uncut version of Dr. No?

Gunbarrels007 bondsum wrote:
Thanks for getting back to me, @Gunbarrels007. It's my understanding that there were a few more cuts made to Dr No. Does your copy include:

1) Dr. No's line I'm sure she will amuse the guards was considered too sexually suggestive, and has been redubbed instead to The guards will amuse her.

2) Shortly after, Dr. No's henchmen beating up Bond as he is sat at the table has been trimmed, introducing a dissolve to the next scene much earlier to cover the removal of violent footage.

3) Bond's fight with the chauffeur has been trimmed, including the removals of blows to the chauffeur when he is unable to defend himself. A knee kick in this fight was also removed.

PS. Do you have the working print of FRWL?

Yes, these cuts are in my version of Dr. No.

June 2013
hullcityfan wrote:
How did you find this stuff? Also are these like deleted scenes?
Dr. No has a rare uncut version on VHS from 1982.

June 2013 bondsum wrote:
June 2013 This must be this version of Dr No that is uncut, @Gunbarrels007. It's the USA release in 1982... Yes That's the one I have, although my cover is in a much poorer state.

James Bond 007 Dr No 20th Century Fox VHS Cover

June 2013 I'd love someone to upload the Uncut version of Dr No as the old VHS from 1982 is difficult to obtain.

August 2013 walker1976 wrote:
@Gunbarrels007 Is it only the 1982 version of Dr No on vhs thats uncut, The 1984 reissue has very similar cover and i wondered if that might be uncut too? 
Yes, only the 1982 version is uncut.

grunther January 2014 This alternative version of Dr No is certainly a massive curiosity as these additions didn’t show up when Lowry restored the original negative in 2004.
As with FRWL and GF, it seems that censorship cuts were permanently made to the negative and are now lost forever.

For this to exist, I wonder if UA gave Fox a print based on a IP that was struck before the negative was altered. Its subsequently possible that print was ditched by MGM-Pathe exec’s in the late 80’s: Those ’82 tapes might now be the only existence of Dr No uncut- for the sake of film preservation someone must find a way of digitally converting it!

GavSalkeld May 2014 Can anyone confirm that 1982 release is uncut, i.e. provide evidence? It seems odd this would slip through the net when even the 'uncut' Criterion LaserDisc was edited.


That last, rather skeptical sounding, post appears to be from Gavin Salkeld, who has his own page detailing all the cuts to the James Bond films over the years. According to the information on Salkeld's page, the BBFC required the following cuts for an 'A' rated cinema release in 1962.

- Bond's fight with the chauffeur has been trimmed, including the removals of blows to the chauffeur when he is unable to defend himself. A knee kick in this fight was also removed.
- The killing of Dent has been trimmed to so Bond only fires one fatal shot. Footage was removed of Bond shooting extra shots into Dent's back as he lies on the floor dying.
- Dr. NoDr. No's line "I'm sure she will amuse the guards" was considered too sexually suggestive, and has been redubbed instead to "I'm sure the guards will amuse her".
- Shortly after that, the scene where Dr. NoDr. No's henchmen are beating up Bond as he is sat at the table has been trimmed, introducing a dissolve to the next scene much earlier to cover the removal of violent footage.

"The cuts were presumably to the negative as was often the norm in the 60s, so cuts now persist to all prints worldwide".

The implication is therefore that these cuts have also persisted to all worldwide releases - including all home video formats - ever since.

Dr. NoDr. No was distributed on Technicolor prints, at least in it's first theatrical run, and Technicolor prints don't use an interpositive (a positive print struck directly from the original negative), instead they use 'separation masters', where the Red, Green and and Blue light is separated onto three black and white reels of film, using a prism. 

However, it is likely that an interpositive was made, because that's probably what the censor was watching when he made his ruling on what needed to be cut. So, it's not impossible that somebody pulled this uncensored IP out of a vault and sent it to Fox for mastering on video by mistake in 1982. After all, the film was already 20 years old, and whomever was sent to get the film might not have known it was uncensored.

Yet after a pretty thorough search of the interwebs, we were unable to find any captures of these uncensored scenes. This thread on the Bullets 'n Babes forum is pretty typical of what we found. It begins with somebody pointing to a rare, original and "uncut" version of Dr. NoDr. No listed on eBay, quickly followed by some discussion about what makes it special, with a link to the MI6 Community thread as a reference. Next come remarks that the prices of these early tapes are a quite "Expensive" but only because they are "very rare." Further down, it becomes necessary to point out that the film was re-released just two years later in 1984 - often cited as further evidence that there was something about the '82 release that needed fixing, and also as a plausible reason why somebody else might tell you there are no uncut scenes - they probably have an '84 tape. Eventually, somebody either buys the tape, or really does already have one, and points out that in fact all of the expected cuts are in place, and then the thread just fizzles out.

So when the cycle began again in a new thread on a few weeks ago, we decided to try and find out the truth. Is this just a scam? A rumour started by somebody who wanted to drive up the price of a rather generic early video tape, inferior in quality to the later, remastered versions and not just because it is aging?

Now, as you may recall, we happen to have access to an original 1962 35mm Technicolor film print of Dr No. None of the excised footage described above is in this theatrical film print. The most obvious scene to check is the shooting of Professor Dent. Here's how it plays out on film:

Just two shots.

It is very easy to spot the difference between a cut to the negative, and a cut to the print. A cut to the negative will not extend outside the picture area. If you look at the bottom of this frame you can see the glue/tape marks where the negative was cut. Notice that the marks do not extend into the Soundtrack area on the left. (These marks would not be visible when projected, because the projector would have been matted to 1.85:1).

The picture shows a scene from James Bond Dr No. There are glue marks at the bottom of the frame, but the soundtrack area on the left shows no marks.

Compare that to a cut made to the print. This cut line clearly extends into the soundtrack area:

The picture shows a splice where frames are missing from the print. The cut line clearly extends into the soundtrack area.

Of course, cuts to the print would typically be made between frames rather than right in the middle like this ugly splice, but for illustrative purposes, this seemed like a good example.

So the first thing we can confirm just by looking at the film print is that the BBFC Cuts were not made at the print level, which makes sense if you think about it. Why make the same cuts to hundreds of prints when you can make them just once, before any prints are struck? So after examining the print, we know that the cuts were indeed made to the negative. This is important to remember, and I'll explain why shortly.

If you checked out the thread on Original Trilogy, you may have noticed that, once again, there were links to a listing on eBay. Well, this time we bought that tape. It's easy to spot an original '82 when you know how. Here's the '82 tape we bought:

1982 Dr No Betamax Tape

And here's an '84:

1984 Dr No Betamax Tape

See the difference? The '82 is distributed by 20th Century Fox, while the '84 is distributed by CBS-FOX. I sent the tape to Q-branch for capturing, only to discover that Q didn't have a working Betamax player. Somewhat shocked, but undeterred, Q and I went to the flea market. Together, we picked up a vintage 1979 Sony Betamax SL 8600 for $30, and bought a few extra beta tapes, just in case it started eating them. The guy selling it assured us that, while it wasn't currently working, it should be pretty easy to fix. Most of the internals are mechanical, rather than electrical, and it probably just needed some new belts and some lubrication. We brought it back to Q's laboratory at around 3 pm. If you've ever opened up a Betamax player while it's running you'll know that the first thing it does when you load a tape is pull some of that tape out and thread it through to the play heads so that it is ready to play as soon as you push the button. Well, at first our new player couldn't do that. You could tell it wanted to, and it sure tried, but it just couldn't do it. Q found a few spare belts but as can be seen in this photograph, the machine needs several different sizes:

view of betamax SL8600 from underneath, (case open)

(That's the bottom of the VCR you're looking at there.) So the belts we didn't have replacements for, we cleaned with rubbing alcohol and hoped for the best. An hour later, and after adding a little oil here and there, replacing one belt and cleaning the others, the tape would load and unload pretty smoothly, but the eject button didn't work very well. You had to hold it down until the operation completed, or it wouldn't eject. A quick search on Youtube found us this video by 12voltvids, showing how he repaired his SL 8600. We watched the video a couple of times and found it very helpful. We tweaked a sensor or two on the front of the unit that controls the rewind sensitivity and the eject button was fixed. But it still wouldn't play. Q fiddled with the belts some more, evidently one of them was slipping. By 10 pm it was playing tapes... In black and white...  With bad tracking. Luckily, the black and white problem was one solved in the Youtube video - just more sensor tweaking, this time on the green circuit board you can see dangling in the photo above. The tracking and other playback issues were solved with yet more sensor tweaking. By midnight we had it working well enough to finally check out our Dr. NoDr. No tape:

And guess what? No extra footage. This 1982 release of Dr. NoDr. No is not uncut. It has all the same cuts as all the other versions. Here is a little montage of all the scenes that are supposed to be uncensored on these vintage tapes:

Now, you'll recall that earlier I asked you to remember that the scenes were cut from the negative, and therefore all theatrical prints have the censored version? Well, there are clearly cue marks visible at the reel changes on the tape, which strongly suggests that the source of the transfer was not an Interpositive (IP) or a specially created low contrast telecine print, but was in fact just a standard theatrical release print... Probably a Technicolor one. If you look in the picture below, you can see that the print has multiple cue marks for the projectionist (one set would have been added by the studio during printing, the others were added by the projectionist(s) later on to make them easier to spot). The edge of the original cue mark is clearly visible in exactly the same place on the video tape:

projectionist Cue marks are clearly visible on the tape in the same place as on the print

The purpose of these marks is to signal to the projectionist that the reel is about to end. Each film reel lasts approximately 20 minutes and, back in the 1960s, most cinemas would have a professional projectionist who would be in the booth watching for these flashes on the screen. As soon as he saw them he would start the second projector. If he times it right, the leader film (with the countdown on it) will run out just as he switches from projector A to projector B. He can then remove the film from projector A, get reel 3 ready to go in its place and rewind reel 1 ready for the next show, before doing it all again at the next reel change. Inperpositive prints don't usually have the soundtrack or the cue marks printed on them, which is why we think this tape was made from a theatrical print.

By the late 1980s, after it became clear that the home video market was going to be hugely profitable, studios began to strike special, low contrast, prints specifically for telecine transfer to the popular home video formats. For the more recent films, these could easily be made straight from the negatives or from an Interpositive print, and would not have cue marks. More care would also be taken when pan and scanning the footage, which is part of the reason why the 1995-2000 series of James Bond VHS tapes and laserdiscs is so much better than these early transfers. Anyway, the 1984 tape appears to have exactly the same video transfer, only the label and the box art have been updated, presumably to bring the packaging in line with the other newly released titles now being distributed under the new CBS-FOX logo, and not to fix an error in which the wrong transfer had been put out on video tape.

Remembering that the RCA Selectavision version of You Only Live TwiceYou Only Live Twice had that crazy ABC TV Edit opening, we also picked up an original 1982 CED of Dr. NoDr. No just to see if that format might have come from a different master:

Dr No on CED, 1982 RCA video disc

Unfortunately, the only player we had access to wasn't working, (or perhaps the $0.99 disc we bought on eBay was simply unplayable), so we reached out to the CED Magic group on Facebook. Within a few hours, not one but two of the members there had kindly checked their '82 CED discs and confirmed that it does not contain the uncut version. Just to be thorough, they also checked an '84 disc, which was also censored:

Bond shooting Dent in Dr No on CED

And confirmed that Han still shoots first on CED :)

Hand shot first on CED

Next we reached out to the webmaster at 007HomeVideo. He didn't create that site by scouring the internet for cover art. He actually bought all of those tapes, laserdiscs, CEDs, etc. and photographed or scanned the covers himself. After explaining what it was we were trying to find, he was kind enough to check his first-press U.S. and Japan 1982 NTSC LaserDiscs, the first PAL VHS (Warner Home Video, Germany) release, and yet another first NTSC CED (RCA ‘Selectavision’ USA) release, and all of them contain the censored version of the movie. It was common practice to use the same video master for all the different analog media types so this was not surprising - why create multiple master tapes if you don't have to?

Now we're not calling Gunbarrels007 a liar, it is certainly possible that the first run of tapes in 1982 were created from an early IP made before the cuts, and that a hastily created second run of tapes later in '82 used a release print and was pushed out in the same boxes and with the same labels. Another possibility is that only one of the tape manufacturing locations received the wrong master. Perhaps there was one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, but only one of them used the wrong master. The first batch may have been quietly recalled (or not, since that sounds like something somebody would remember), and perhaps only a handful still exist today. However, we do find it interesting that, despite repeated requests, no screen caps of these extended Dr. NoDr. No scenes were ever captured and uploaded to the MI6 thread (nor to anywhere else as far as we can tell).

Perhaps this is just another example of the Mandela Effect, like how so many people "remember" how Jaw's girlfriend, Dolly, had braces in MoonrakerMoonraker, while original 1979 film prints and early '80s VHS tapes clearly show this wasn't the case... Or just another glitch in The Matrix.

So while we were unable to categorically prove that there was/never was an accidental release of the uncut version on video in 1982, we certainly couldn't find any evidence of it.

If you have (or think you might have) a tape with these deleted scenes on them, please let us know! If you can't capture the tape yourself, we will be happy to capture it for you and then return your tape. But until somebody can demonstrate proof of its existence, we're inclined to believe this is just another urban legend, and would discourage anyone from charging or paying top dollar for these '82 tapes.

Related Dossiers

James Bond in Glorious Technicolor

Moonraker and the Mandela Effect

You Only Live Twice ABC Cut

OHMSS - The 1976 ABC TV Version

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