Sunday, October 09, 2005

CASINO ROYALE (1967) - Multiple Directors

You don’t have to look much farther than the opening credits to realize Casino Royale is one big, sprawling Hollywood “cluster-fuck” of a movie. Five directors, approximately ten screenwriters, a cavalcade of stars including Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, David Niven, Ursula Andress, William Holden, Jean Paul Belomondo…the list goes on and on. But I can say this much for Casino Royale: Hollywood in the swinging ‘60s knew how to “cluster-fuck.” It’s a big, silly orgy of a movie and wears its wild promiscuity joyously on its loosened sleeves.

I won’t even try to describe the plot. All you need to know is that it’s a very silly, oversexed James Bond spoof, with twenty to thirty different people playing 007 including Peter Sellers, David Niven, and a bunch of swinging 60s supermodels. It’s giddily all-over-map story and character wise, at one point even accidentally blowing up the Berlin Wall with a misplaced telephone booth explosive, thereby collapsing communism and narrative cohesion in one fail swoop.
More daring may be the fact that the producers’ caution-to-the-wind approach threatened to detonate the entire James Bond franchise all together. That’s a lot of potential $$$ to gleefully incinerate, perhaps the boldest move to make within an industry that nurtures its franchises more than an Emperor penguin does its precious eggs. Believe it or not, this movie IS very-loosely based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond adventure, one which longtime Bond-producer Cubby Broccoli apparently didn’t grab the rights to quick enough. I’m guessing they just turned a blind-eye to Casino Royale, as if it never really happened. But it happened. And, even as a Bond fan, I am glad it did.

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