Take a Drink: for cultural stereotypes
Take a Drink: whenever someone tries to seduce Bond
Take a Drink: whenever Bond (or Mata Bond) demonstrates surprising badassery
Take a Drink: for explosions
Do a Shot: for paintings
By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
The story of who held what Ian Fleming rights has given us several bonus “Bond” flicks, but in my opinion none turned out stranger than Casino Royale, which producer Charles K. Feldman held onto so long he felt he needed to make a comedy out of it.
Instead of just hiring Sean Connery to flip the bird at the Broccolis
David Niven stars as the “original Bond”, who gets brought back into the game to take down the dastardly, gamble-happy Le Chiffre (Orson Welles). Along the way he picks up a couple more “Bonds” (Peter Sellers and Terence Cooper) and the daughter he’s apparently been ignoring for decades, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet). Yep, Mata Hari’s the mom.
Well, you couldn’t ask for a much better cast, and I haven’t even mentioned William Holden, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Paul Belmondo, Deborah Kerr, George Raft, Ursula Andress, John Huston (also one of the directors), or Woody Allen (not one of the directors, but instead… Jimmy Bond).
Yes, Woody Allen
I can’t say that you won’t have some laughs, either, mostly due to the game efforts of that cast, in particular Niven and Allen.
Early in the film, we’re told “Bond is back, with his morals, his vows, and his celibate image”. Sure, there’s a comic reversal of expectations there, but also a disconnect with what even a parody of Bond should look like. Niven’s incessant stuttering and the Herb Alpert theme over the Monty Python-lite credits are also a bit concerning.
Oh…my. Oscar or no Oscar, the Burt Bacharach soundtrack is the nail in that coffin. Doesn’t help that it seems to rise at particularly the wrong time.
The angora sweater of danger
You know you have some tonal issues when said jaunty Bacharach score plays over a scene of a woman exploding. Considering when all was said and done five different people had sat in the director’s job, it’s a minor miracle that it’s coherent at all. Then again, with full on musical numbers, washed out sex montages that would give Liberace a hard-on beyond the grave, and… UFOs (?), that point is debatable.
The worst part is that for all the absurdity and talent on display, this Casino Royale is not nearly as funny as it should be. It’s strangely shrill and lifeless at parts, and somehow even renders Peter Sellers boring.
Somebody get Steve Martin in here.
If the idea of Austin Powers full of humor your slightly salty Grandad would like compels you, have at it.