After You Only Live Twice, the James Bond franchise was bamboozled and lampooned, because that’s what happens when you have a successful franchise on your hands: a parody is well on its horizon. So the release of Casino Royale (1967) is not surprising in hindsight. The film is a great spoof on spy films, and probably provided inspiration for Mike Myers’ Austin Powers. The final product, however, may have many of us wishing for something better.
One of the strengths of Casino Royale is the cast. With Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, David Niven, Orson Welles, and even the original Bond girl Ursula Andress on-screen, the film covers a huge range of talent types, from slapstick comedy to drama to action. With Welles and Andress, the joke is with the casting, making the parody even deeper than just activity on the screen.
The problem with Casino Royale is that it is too easy for the viewer to get lost in the film. There are just so many characters, so many antique references to the state of the world in the 1960s, and a ton of plot-holes that make the film feel unfocused. These issues may engineer a great spoof on how randomly a Bond story can switch gears, but it really hurts the film as a stand-alone work.
Master Evil Plan:
SMERSH plans to rid the world of all James Bond 007s, which there apparently are countless of. The spy leaders of the world call upon the original James Bond to stop them.
Randomly Ridiculous 007 Moments:
1) The ridiculous fanfare soundtrack that plays throughout the film.
2) The original James Bond’s constant stuttering, played by David Niven.
3) McTarry’s (M) toupe blown off by mortars before his apparent death.
4) The spy bagpipe players predates Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers series.
5) The McTarry household set the standard for the women of Castle Anthrax in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
6) Le Chiffre kills a henchman and brings down the Berlin Wall as a result.
7) Everyone dies.
Randomly Ridiculous Quotes:
1) Buttercup: “He used to call me his little thermometer!
2) Evelyn Tremble / James Bond: “Oh, you’re going to nothing me to death.”
3) Jimmy Bond: “You can’t shoot me! I have a very low threshold of death. My doctor says I can’t have bullets enter my body at any time.”
4) Sir James: “It’s depressing that the words ‘secret agent’ have become synonymous with ‘sex maniac.'”
5) Le Chiffre: “Don’t worry about that chair with a hole in the middle. It’s merely waiting to be reupholstered.”
6) Sir James: “From now on, all remaining agents and trainees will be known as James Bond 007, including the girls.”
James Bonds, or 007’s: 7 (plus however many MI6 agents there are when the original James Bond gives the order to make them all James Bond, plus 1000 robotic doubles)
Women James Bond sleeps with: 1
Women James Bond almost sleeps with: 2
Bond Kills: 4, a pile of bagpipe players, and a group of casino visitors
Bonds Killed: all of them
Bond associates killed: all of them
Bond assassination attempts: 9
1 by mortars
1 by explosive bird
1 by explosive milk truck
2 by firing squad (in the span of a few seconds)
1 by bagpipe machine gun (successful)
2 by gunfire
1 by robotic James Bond
and everyone else by the end of the film by a mega-bomb.
I give this film 2-1/2 out of 5 Bond characters. It was fun to watch, but extremely erratic.