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Film Review: Casino Royale (1967)

Film Review: Casino Royale (1967)

“Sir James Bond is enjoying his retirement when four international agents press him into service again in hopes of smashing SMERSH and topple Le Chiffre at the baccarat tables. Bond is taken in by Agent Mimi (alias Lady Fiona McTarry) who immediately falls in love with him. Bond’s illegitimate daughter, Mata Bond, whose mother was the late Mata Hari, is going to help out. The current agent using the Bond name, Cooper, has his hands full, despite his assistance by beautiful secretary, Moneypenny. 007’s nephew Jimmy Bond is supposedly incompetent. Bond, hoping to clear his name from its current low repute, hires Evelyn Tremble to meet Le Chiffre at the gambling tables at Casino Royale. The world’s richest agent, Vesper Lynd, helps convince Tremble to masquerade as 007.” (courtesy IMDB)

The James Bond movies started the development through which science fiction parts have been more and more included into thrillers in the course of the sixties, a development which reached growth proportions within the latter half of the last decade. Foremost among the many Bond imitators have been the Matt Helm collection of movies starring Dean Martin – The Silencers (1966), Assassin’s Row (1966), The Ambushers (1967), The Wrecking Crew (1969) – the 2 Derek Flint movies starring James Coburn – Our Man Flint (1966), In Like Flint (1967) – and the varied Man From UNCLE function movies created by combining tv episodes and including additional footage – The Spy With My Face (1965), One Of Our Spies Is Lacking (1966), One Spy Too Many (1966), How To Steal The World (1968) – all of which turned progressively far-fetched.

However probably the most way-out spy movie of all was Casino Royale (1967), a weird concoction that has nearly nothing to do with the primary (and arguably the perfect) of Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels. Ranging from surreal black comedy to pure slapstick, the movie boasts remarkably little in the way of coherent plotting, a fault that was compensated for by the numerous plots and counterplots hatched before and during its turbulent shooting. To begin with it was financed, not by the producers of the regular Bond series, Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, but by Charles Feldman who just had a huge hit with What’s New Pussycat (1965). The rights of the primary novel have been initially bought to supply a reside tv play starring Barry Nelson as CIA agent Jimmy Bond, Michael Pate as British MI6 agent Felix Leiter, and Peter Lorre because the villainous Le Chiffre. Though a substantial amount of enjoyable to observe as we speak, it was all the time thought-about below-average, each as a James Bond journey and as a stay tv play. Strains are flubbed, and each the sound and staged results are poor at one of the best of occasions (within the opening scene for example, gunshots and their squibs are means out of sync).

Since Charles Feldman was unable to make use of Sean Connery in his model, he determined the one attainable answer was to send-up the James Bond persona, making Casino Royale a type of farcical satire with solely a really marginal connection to the unique novel. Regardless of having ten writers (together with Terry Southern, Woody Allen, Wolf Mankowitz, Ben Hecht and Joseph Heller), 5 administrators and a dream forged that included Peter Sellers, David Niven, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles, Joanna Pettet, Deborah Kerr, Woody Allen, William Holden, Charles Boyer, John Huston, Barbara Bouchet, George Raft, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Peter O’Toole, Sterling Moss, Terrence Cooper, Bernard Cribbins, Ronnie Corbett, Kurt Kaszner, Anna Quayle, Geoffrey Bayldon, John Wells, Derek Nimmo, Geraldine Chaplin, Valentine Dyall, Anjelica Huston, Burt Kwouk, John Le Mesurier, Caroline Munro, David Prowse, Jacqueline Bisset, Alexandra Bastedo and John Bluthal, the film is a confused concoction through which the key providers of Britain, America, France and Russia meet to debate how the evil organisation SMERSH might be foiled. They determine to influence Sir James Bond out of retirement – by blowing up his nation home. ‘M’ is killed within the explosion, and Bond travels to Scotland to console his widow Woman Fiona McTarry and her household. Unbeknownst to Bond, the McTarrys have been changed by SMERSH brokers and…oh, overlook it! Suffice to say that, by the climax of this incomprehensible farrago, virtually everybody has a go at being James Bond, and ends with Woody Allen because the would-be grasp of the world, who swallows a pill-sized atom bomb and blows himself (and everyone else) to bits. “Seven James Bonds at Casino Royale, they came to save the world and win a gal at Casino Royale. Six of them went to a heavenly spot, the seventh one is going to a place where it’s terribly hot.”

It was clearly meant to be a ‘fun’ film like What’s New Pussycat besides that on this event, not even the forged gave a convincing impression of having fun with themselves, which was undoubtedly the case. Joseph McGrath was initially employed as sole director, a dangerous selection for a multi-million greenback manufacturing because it was his first function. However he was a private good friend of Peter Sellers who, over Feldman’s higher judgment, selected him as the person most certified to steer such an enormous leaky vessel safely into port. McGrath, nevertheless, couldn’t have realised that he would additionally should cope with a extreme and genuinely based disaster in regards to the actor’s vainness. The crux of the film (certainly one of solely two scenes remaining from the unique novel) is a marathon recreation of baccarat performed at Le Torquet between the evil genius behind SMERSH, Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) and Bond – or fairly, within the film model, considered one of Bond’s many surrogates, Mr. Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers). However Sellers, after a humiliating encounter with the gargantuan American actor-director, turned obsessive about the notion that he was going to be upstaged. Like some paranoid chess-master, he felt his efficiency would endure from the hostile vibrations of his charismatic co-star. He categorically refused to play the scene in Welles’ presence, and insisted that McGrath first movie Welles then, in reverse angle, a response shot from himself, and so forth.

All of which was completely possible since they might be sitting reverse one another throughout the baccarat desk, besides for 2 issues. Firstly, there was no establishing shot of the 2 gamers in the identical room. This was fastened in post-production with a few seconds of apparent superimposing. Secondly, actors have a tendency to profit drastically from a type of mutual suggestions, even when their private relations are lower than amicable. Sellers, whose work had already been blunted by a string of ‘yes-men’ administrators, was now denying himself the indispensable alternative of enjoying reverse one other actor. His ensuing efficiency in Casino Royale is considerably some of the featureless and lackluster of his whole profession. Sellers determined somebody ought to be blamed and didn’t bask in an extra of soul-searching. McGrath needed to go and so he departed, together with a press launch stating that such an inexperienced filmmaker was by no means been meant to finish the film, segments of which might now be allotted to totally different well-known administrators. In the long run, McGrath was credited collectively with John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish and my previous pal Val Visitor:

“Charlie (Feldman) called me in right at the beginning, and he said, ‘Look, I’m going to give you six scripts of Casino Royale and I want you to try and get one out of them all!’ and they were as widely varied as you could possibly get. There was one by Ben Hecht, there was one by Terry Southern, one by Dory Schary, and so on. All top writers, but eventually we didn’t use any of them. It was a psychedelic nightmare – he had to start shooting on a certain date because he’d signed Sellers up to start then and he didn’t want to lose him. So we virtually started shooting without a script. Then Charlie flew Woody Allen over and I worked with Woody on the script for a long time, which was great – he’s fun to work with – but Charlie would go through the stuff we’d beaten out and would cut all the gags and just leave the build-ups.”

“The main problem was that we were shooting in three different studios and we used to commute from MGM to Elstree to Pinewood to Shepparton. We had standing sets in each studio. It was a nightmare because Charlie would call me up in the middle of the night and say, ‘Look, I can get Bardot next Wednesday. Which set are we on then? Well, write her in!’ That was the way he got those eighteen or so international stars in the film. He started off by conning Sellers into doing it by saying Niven was going to do it, then he called Niven and said Sellers is going to do it and so then he got Niven. I used to sit in Charlie’s office while he conned people on the telephone. He got Bill Holden because he used to be his agent at one time, but I remember we had a terrible time getting Jean-Paul Belmondo. We told Ursula Andress, ‘You’ve got to persuade Belmondo to come in,’ and she said, ‘He doesn’t want to know about it!’ But we made her keep pestering him until he gave in. It was all a nightmare but it eventually made money – a lot of money.”

No variety of cooks might spoil a broth that was already rancid, they usually might scarcely enhance issues. Regardless of the sensible soundtrack composed by Burt Bacharach and Herb Alpert and delightful cinematography from Nicolas Roeg, the film was declared a fiasco, and infrequently have so many adverse superlatives been delivered to bear on a single manufacturing, which induced Charles Feldman’s dying by embarrassment just some months after the movie’s launch. I’ll depart you to ponder that puzzlement, however not earlier than thanking sure sources for his or her very important help in my analysis: NME Journal and Month-to-month Film Bulletin Journal. I look ahead to your organization subsequent week when I’ve the chance to freeze the blood in your veins with extra sickening horror to make your abdomen flip and your flesh crawl in yet one more fear-filled fang-fest for…Horror Information! Toodles!

Casino Royale (1967)