Behind the scenes were artists like John Barry, composer of Bond's pulse-quickening theme music; Maurice Binder, who created the famous gun-barrel title sequence; and designer Ken Adam, a German-born former RAF fighter pilot whose futuristic sets gave the films their look of modernist cool.
In the documentary, which airs on October 5 on EPIX, Adam recalls feeling "crazy with courage" in those early days. Others remember the same devil-may-care atmosphere.
"It was barnstorming days," said David M. Kay, whose company provided aircraft for filming and stunts on the early Bond films, including the helicopter-volcano sequence in You Only Live Twice.
"We didn't have health and safety as we have now. Broccoli was an absolute cavalier and demanded things that were well-nigh impossible," Kay recalled.
It was also enormous fun, he said — "Men playing with boys' toys."
That sense of playfulness spilled over to the screen. Dr. No arrived in movie theaters with perfect timing, as Britain swapped postwar austerity for growing prosperity.