Casino Royale (1967)

Directed by Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish & Richard Talmadge
Written by Wolf Mankowitz, John Law & Michael Sayers

How do I go about writing about this one. Obviously this is one of the three surprises which Edgar alluded to earlier. The film is an adaptation of Felming’s novel of the same name and does include a story surrounding James Bond. The similarities stop there however. The film is not part of the EON Productions “Official” Bond series and as such follows no such conventions as the other films in this marathon. For this one, think outside the box, way outside the box. The film was directed by 6 different people, but one of those was John Huston. It was written by 3 different peole, but Woody Allen, Petter Sellers and Billy Wilder as also featured as uncredited writers. So you have a huge group of people developing the project, usually a negative for me, but then you have a slew of great names involved in the project as well, usually a positive for me. So where might this strange comedy/parody end up? Well, to be blunt, I did not like it at all.

The positives: M had 11 hot daughters, Monypenny had a hot daughter, and Bond had a hot daughter. So basically, if you were a daughter in this film, you were a god looking woman. I couldn’t take how many attractive women there were in this. And many of them were redheads. I would wager that there are more attractive women here than in all the other movies we have done so far combined. In addition to the great eye-candy, which is not really a valid critique of the film, Woddy Allen as Jimmy Bond was a great. He was typical Woody, but thrust into the role as a spy he was even funnier I thought. Apart from that I fear I would struggle to come up with much more that I was excited about. Oh! There was that one song that was pretty cool. You know, the one that made this an Oscar nominated song…”The Look of Love”. And on that same note, Herb Alpert and Burt Bacharach did the score! That was pretty cool.

Okay, so the movie. I’m sure you’re wondering what actually happened here, and myabe why I thought it was so bad. Well the Casino Royale story remains about the same, Bond must beat Le Chiffre in a game of cards. I hardly remember why as the film was much less focused on plot and more focused on stupid things, liked missed jokes and comedy set pieces that weren’t funny. I know it starts out going to a retired Bond who is proper and cultured, but who is also celebate and moral. What!? That’s not the Bond I know! But MI6 has been making a cover for the retired Bond, having lewd, cunning men pose as Bond in the agency to keep up the reputation. So we learn that Bond is set to replace M. What!? So not only do we see Bond’s Mansion, we see M, or MacTary’s, as well. The first about 30 minutes of the film is wasted on this boring exposition that adds little to nothing to the plot. At some point Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) comes in to impersonate Bond for the game of cards. Sellers is alright here, not terrible, but not memorable either. I can honestly say that there is nothing specific really that I remember at all about the film.

There were a few laughs, but many of the jokes failed on me, and maybe that is just the film being dated and me not getting it, but I found it to be terribly unfunny, and as it was so unconventional to the other Bond films I found the format offputting for the story that was being told. There were no gadgets, no chase scenes. It was too domestic for my liking. And I’m not saying that I didn’t like it because it wasn’t something else, I’m saying I didn’t like it because I didn’t think it executed what it was going for any good, and that if that would have been more conventional, maybe it could have succeeded a little bit better.

I always did have a curiosity about this film, being such a Bond fan, but I can see now how smart I was to avoid it for as long as I did. There were so many great names involved and they made a mediocre film at best. I am disappointed and I can say that this Bond parody does not belong in the “official” series and will not find a place on my shelf any time soon, though I will acknowledge it. But this pains me as a Bond fan.

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