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CASINO ROYALE (1966)

Article 3445 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-11-2010
Posting Date: 1-19-2011
Directed by Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, Richard Talmadge
Featuring Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, David Niven
Country: UK / USA
What it is: James Bond parody

The original Sir James Bond comes out of retirement to take over investigation of the disappearance of secret agents from all over the world.

Yes, you saw right; there are six directors on this movie.  You should also be aware that there are twice as many writers credited on IMDB.  This is almost a sure sign that the resulting movie is a mess, and this is no exception.  Actually, it doesn't start off too bad; the opening scenes establish an interesting premise, in that the current James Bond actually got his name from a respected old-school spy who finds the woman-chasing gadget-ridden style of spydom to be ridiculous, and had the movie kept its focus on the theme of the conflict between the two styles, it might have worked.  Unfortunately, the movie descends into a confusing quagmire shortly after this and never recovers.  It ends up being neither exciting or funny; several people seem to be playing below their abilities (I was particularly disappointed with Orson Welles and Peter Sellers here), and only two actors managed to get a laugh out of me - Woody Allen (who probably wrote most of his own dialogue) and George Raft in a cameo.  I'm almost tempted to to say the end of the movie shows enormous desperation, but I don't think that really describes it; my impression is that the whole movie seems blithely unaware of how badly it's failing. I don't have a problem with the Burt Bacharach score; he seems an odd choice for a James Bond movie (even a parody), but he does give the music an authentic sixties flavor.  The real stars of this movie are those responsible for the art and set design; quite frankly, the movie is stunning to look at throughout, and I'm especially taken with the Caligari-like design of the sets in the Berlin sequence. It's a pity they didn't have a solid movie to film on those sets.

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