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DIRECTED BY: Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, Richard Talmadge (uncredited)
FEATURING: Peter Sellers, David Niven, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Barbara Bouchet, Joanna Pettet, Deborah Kerr
PLOT: The “real” James Bond is recalled from retirement to fight agents of SMERSH. To help his cover, MI6 decides to re-name all their agents “James Bond.” The story loosely follows the maneuvers and misadventures of these various Bonds.
- This movie is based on author Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel of the same title. The rights were originally sold to producer Gregory Ratoff, then resold to agent/producer Charles K. Feldman upon Ratoff’s passing.
- Eon Productions was the chief source of the James Bond franchise, but deals between Eon and Feldman to adapt Casino Royale fell through. After several false starts at producing a straight version of the Bond story (with both Cary Grant and Sean Connery considered for the starring role), Feldman struck a deal with Columbia Pictures, opting to make his Bond movie a spoof of the genre instead.
- Amid an already-troubled production, Peter Sellers and Orson Welles famously quarreled, resulting in the former storming off the set, which required some re-shoots using body doubles.
- It is alleged that Peter Sellers was eager to play James Bond for real and was disappointed to find out this was a spoof.
- Dusty Springfield’s rendition of “The Look of Love” got an Oscar nomination. Later versions of the song made the Billboard Hot 100 at #22 in November of 1967, and cover versions have since appeared in everything from Catch Me If You Can (2002) to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) (which was partly inspired by Casino Royale).
- Despite this movie’s reputation as a flop, it still made $41.7 million back on a $12 million budget.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Eenie meenie miney moe: we’ll pick the scene where Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen) has taken Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress) hostage, Bond-villain style. As Andress is restrained naked under barely-concealing metal bands, Allen menaces her in his groovy ’60s dungeon by playing a piano, socking a punching bag with the “real” James Bond’s face on it, and riding on a mechanical bull.
TWO WEIRD THINGS: Duck decoy missiles; bagpipe machine gun
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: In the same vein as Skidoo (1968) and North (1994), Casino Royale is a star-studded parable teaching us that shoveling big-name talent and money into a movie won’t necessarily make it any better. Before you even approach the jaw-dropping cast, you already have too many cooks (six directors and a veritable army of writers) spoiling the stew. The 131 minute run-time is overstuffed with everything the producers could cram in, whether it works or not. Saturated with weirdness, viewers will be burned out from the endless blathering nonsense long before this silly excess ends.
Original trailer for Casino Royale (1967)
COMMENTS: “What were they thinking?” That’s a query repeated Continue reading 15*. CASINO ROYALE (1967)