Casino Royale (1967)
Directed by John Huston, Kenneth Hughes, Val Guest, Robert Parrish, & Joseph McGrath

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * *

DVD In Association with
Rent DVDs online!
In the USA:
Try Netflix For Free.In the UK:

When secret agents across the world begin to disappear, British spymaster M (John Huston) entreats Sir James Bond (David Niven) to come out of retirement and help. Although at first reluctant to do so, after M is killed, Sir James agrees, visits M's strange family in Scotland, and recruits an army of new agents, including Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress), a wealthy siren, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet), his own daughter by Mata Hari, and Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers), a skilled baccarat player, all of whom are subsequently assigned Bond's own code name, 007. These various new Bonds then set out to unravel a nefarious plot being masterminded by the mysterious head of a criminal organization known as SMERSH, the cavernous headquarters of which have been built beneath the luxurious Casino Royale.

The weird James Bond spoof Casino Royale, which was co-directed by John Huston, Kenneth Hughes, Val Guest, Robert Parrish, and Joseph McGrath, may be an overdone, hammy, and nearly amorphous hodgepodge of barely related incidents, but it is still a genuinely fun and often funny film.

The several directors have included in the movie a number of send ups of the conventions of other James Bond films, some of which are enjoyable to watch. They quickly reveal, for instance, how the real Sir James is a clean living man who is proud of his celibate image, prefers tea to alcohol, and detests using gadgets. Elsewhere, they have incorporated a villain fond of pontificating about his insidious plans, that man's incredible underground hideout, and various outlandish contraptions, including an atomic bomb disguised as an aspirin, a deadly milk lorry, and a flying saucer. Some of these elements are fairly clever and a few are so outrageously ridiculous that they are amusing, but a number of them are more awkward than they are humorous.

Actually, the movie, which is divided into several distinct parts, each of which revolves around a different character, is absolutely crammed with bizarre details which, whether successfully realized or not, will probably retain the viewer's interest. Thus, in various scenes, Sir James watches his daughter perform an elaborate Thai inspired dance in front of a huge golden image of the Buddha; she visits a spy school whose crooked, distorted, grey rooms appear to have been inspired by the set designs employed in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; Sir James' inept nephew, Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen), escapes from a South American firing squad by leaping over a wall while making witty remarks; Evelyn Tremble plays baccarat against the evil Le Chiffre (Orson Welles), a SMERSH agent who hopes to raise money for that organization by gambling, but who repeatedly interrupts this game to perform magic tricks, and Sir James and Mata dash through a series of multicolored, psychedelic chambers and corridors in SMERSH headquarters, which are able to transform themselves whenever shown from a different angle.

Not surprisingly, given such diverse content, Casino Royale, although enlivened by these innumerable eccentric scenes, does not work particularly well as a whole. In fact, it is often incoherent. The plot is not so much loosely structured as it is just an excuse to throw in some comic sequence or another. The film, as a consequence, can grow tiresome as it progresses, especially when a given skit does not succeed. The movie's conclusion, for instance, is so overwrought, so cheesy, and so poorly executed that not only does it fail to add much to anything that came before it, but it is not even funny when viewed on its own.

I cannot say that Casino Royale is likely to impress many viewers, but it is entertaining throughout much of its duration. It may not be a good movie, but it does have many good parts.

Review by Keith Allen

Home Page / Alphabetical List of Films
List of Films by Star Ratings
Aesthetic Principles / Guide to Ratings
Criteria for Inclusion / DVD Stores / Blog

© 2005 Keith Allen. All rights reserved.

Click Here

banner 2