The other day, I was examining the parallels of DR. STRANGELOVE (Kubrick, 1964) and DR. NO (Young, 1962). During the first act, Bond (Sean Connery) meets a Jamaican called Quarrel (John Kitzmiller) who wears a red T-shirt one cannot help but notice.
|The original color as seen in the film.|
|Digitally desaturated T-shirt: just an average guy whose appearance goes largely unnoticed.|
1.) The simple one: We have to recognize him in later scenes. The film makers may have been afraid that the audience would have a hard time distinguishing various Jamaicans if not for their clothes. After all, Quarrel always wears the same red T-shirt throughout the film while the Brits and Americans are allowed to change their clothes. In fact, Quarrel is so important to the story that we do have to recognize him even at night.
2.) The unpleasant one: Quarrel is a walking stereotype. He is the typical good guy who follows instinct instead of intellect and thus is shown as inferior (even childlike in his superstition about a dragon) to all the white men in the film. And what better color than red to symbolize a person who only acts impulsively ?
He also shares the common fate of black actors (until the end of the 1960s when Blaxploitation movies started to reverse the formula): Quarrel proves a worthy subordinate partner to the white hero and therefore has to die in order to make way for his British friend to save the day.