Casino Royale (1967): Unofficial James Bond Entry

In this awfully messy spoof of the James Bond movies, an aging Bond (David Niven) is called out of retirement to fight the forces of SMERSH. He logs to hand over the demanding role of 007 to a successor, and considers his inept nephew, Jimmy Bond (played by Woody Allen in what’s the film only decent performance).

Previous James Bond reviews:
Dr. No (1962): www.emanuellevy.com/review/dr-no-first-james-bond/
From Russia With Love (1963): www.emanuellevy.com/review/from-russia-with-love-1963/
Goldfinger (1964): www.emanuellevy.com/review/goldfinger-6/
Thunderball (1965): www.emanuellevy.com/review/thunderball/
You Only Live Twice (1967): www.emanuellevy.com/review/you-only-live-twice-bond-no-5/
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): www.emanuellevy.com/review/on-her-majestys-service-1969-bonds-sixth-entry/

The plot kicks into gear when M (played by director John Huston) is killed, and Sir Bond contacts several agents, all of them 007. In this preposterous telling, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet) is David Niven’s daughter from a liaison with Mata Hari! This pile of witless, star-loaded vignettes culminates in Niven’s realization that the real villain is his own ineffectual nephew.

Author Fleming, a friend of David Niven, always wanted the star to play the lead; hard to believe but initially he dismissed Sean Connery as Bond. This was one of the few Ian Fleming titles not owned by producer Albert Broccoli. Unfortunately, producers Charles K. Feldman and Jerry Bresler decided to make a movie out of the book, and in the process hired and fired at least five directors.

The all-star cast includes: Peter Sellers as Evelyn Tremble, Ursula Andress (who was in Dr. No) as Vesper Lynd, Orson Welles as Le Chiffre, Joanna Pettet as Mata Bond, Daliah Lavi as the Detainer, Deborah Kerr as Agent Mimi, Lady Fiona McTarry), William Holden as Ransome, and Charles Boyer as Le Grand.

Five Directors/Eight Writers

This is a laden, overly long (2 hours and 11 minutes) spoof, with two or three funny moments (mostly belong to Woody Allen). At least five directors “contributed to the movie, including John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Val Guest, and Joseph McGrath.

And no less than eight writers get credits for adapting Fleming’s novel to the big-screen, including Billy Wilder, Wolf Mankowitz, John Law, Michael Sayers, Val Guest, Joseph Heller, Ben Hecht, and Terry Southern.
Origins

“Casino Royale” was first a one-hour TV show for CBS’s “Climax” in 1954, which was later acquired by Hollywood agent Charles Feldman.

Oscar Alert

The movie received a Best Song Oscar nomination for its melodic, “The Look of Love,” music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David, but was defeated in the final race by Leslie Bricusse’s “Talk to the Animals,” from the awful Fox musical, “Doctor Dolittle,” starring Rex Harrison.

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