Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

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Location: Prague, Bohemia
Member Since: Tue Apr 06, 2010
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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,617
Subj: Re: casino royale 1967
Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 at 09:38:52 am EST (Viewed 69 times)
Reply Subj: Re: casino royale 1967
Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 at 09:06:33 am EST (Viewed 76 times)

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    I felt like a bit of Eurospy so I decided to rewatch the granddaddy of them all: Casino Royale, the only James Bond spoof that features James Bond. I watched it over 15 years ago and revisited it recently

    This is the one Fleming Novel not owner by Eon pictures so it could feature an actual James Bond. Interestingly, it was originally going to be a straight film with Sean Connery. But instead it became a silly 60s comedy with 5 directors and dozens of James bonds.

    The story is episodic, with each director taking a different potion which creates a number of tone shifts as each focuses on different characters. This was due to a number of reasons, notably Peter Sellers apparently going nuts and getting fired.

    Story one: Smersh has been killing off agents, so MI6 decides to code name all of their agents James Bond. The first tale involves the "original" James Bond, played by a stuffy David Niven, who claims to be "old school" unlike modern agents obsessed with sex. Anyway, it shows that we are really lucky we got Sean Connery intead of David Niven. Niven somehow manages to be even more posh and effeminate than Roger Moore (who was by far the least belevable bond)

What I found interesting when I looked up David Niven's wikipedia entry
was that apparently he was the man Ian Fleming had in mind to play James Bond all along. Just goes to show that there often is a significant difference between the book and the movie adaptation.

The main problem with Niven as Bond would have been his age - he already was over 50 when Dr. No was shot, and in Casino Royale he was 57, playing someone old enough to be his father (the "original" James Bond in Casino Royale had served in World War 1, David Niven's father was killed in the battle of Gallipoli, you do the math).

"Effeminate"? I'd say that Niven conformed more to the traditional image of a British officer and gentleman - Stiff Upper Lip and all that - which in the meantime has fallen out of fashion, but which was very pervasive right until the 60s (and still far from dead, when you e.g. consider John Steed of the Avengers, another 1960s icon). And Niven had helped to popularize this in the 1930s, and you could say he conformed to this in real life (he was an officer in the British army before he became an actor, and he again served in World War 2).

Fun fact: Serving on Malta in the early 1930s, David Niven became friends with Roy Urquhart (who would be played by Sean Connery in "A Bridge Too Far" in 1977).

    Story 2: this story bleeds into David Niven finding his long lost daughter, Mata Bond, from a love affair he had with Mata Hari. This is probably the best sequence in the film as it involves her infiltrating a spy school in east Berlin. Pettet manages to be both charismatic and beautiful. the probably should have been all about her as she gives us a nice idea of what a female bond film would look like.
    And boy whoever directed this part loved dutch angles.

    story 3: is the most famous part as it involves Peter Sellers as nerdy agent Treble, Orson Wells as Le Chiffe and original bond girl Ursala andress as Vesper lynd. For some reason Sellers tries to play it straight and refused to film his scenes with Wells, resulting in a very awkwardly filmed card game.
    But it does have the seduction scene with a giant fish tank in the foreground and the sexy song "the look of love" which should have been used in a real bond film.

    Story 4: really goes off the rails as the big villain is revealed to be Jimmy Bond played by the always annoying Woody Allen, culminating in a big farse battle as the directors had no idea how to end the film.

    I was surprised to find the film turned a big profit despite being panned. i think it fell in a sweey spot between Thunderball and "you only live twice" when audiences watched anything Bond.

I would guess that part of the success may have been due to the larger number of established stars in it. I just looked at the cast list, and it is a bit like an earlier movie starring David Niven, "Around the World in 80 Days", in that there are so many big-name actors and actor-directors (Orson Welles and John Huston) in mostly minuscule parts. Which is something the James Bond movies of the 1960s actually did not go in for, these were movies that made international stars of not terribly well-known actors (Sean Connery himself, obviously, but also Ursula Andress in "Dr. No", Robert Shaw in "From Russia With Love", Gert Fröbe in "Goldfinger", arguably Donald Pleasence in "Thunderball", and I'm stumped for "You Only Live Twice") but did not really start using established stars until later.

    While its mostly an unwatchable mess there are elements of what could have been. The score by Burt Bacharat shows he should have been used on a real bond film. the lovely Dahliah Levi in a sexy 60s bob should have been a real bond girl. And Mata Bond should have had her own film.

The Burt Bacharach score definitely is the best thing about the film, and both "The Look of Love" and the main theme are easy on the ears.

While its true Niven might have been Flemming's original choice, Fleming certainly liked Connery's performance after he saw it in Dr No. In fact, he gave Bond Scottish ancestry in the OHMSS book in honour of Connery.

If you've ever seen Roger Moore run in a bond film, he runs like a girl:-)

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