The Curator of Schlock #152 by Jeff Shuster
(The movie is shit.)
Oh, I’m sorry. No clever sub-head this week. I dove down a rabbit hole that I should have steered clear away from.
What am I getting at? Where do I start? You know, I tend to view the cinema of the first decade of the 21st century with a kind of a ho-hum attitude, mainly due to the slew of remakes and reboots . Still, I think I’ve been unfair. After all, the oughts gave us the first two films of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Those two films corrected a problem I had with the original Tim Burton Batman, namely the plot point about the Joker being the one who murdered Batman’s parents. The screenwriter even warned Burton against adding that in, but Burton ignored him. Now those Burton Batman films have been eclipsed
The other triumph of 2000s cinema was the adaptation Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel. Why? Because it too eclipsed an earlier adaptation of Casino Royale, a 1967 parody film that is a festering turd of a movie. I’m using great restraint right now.
I try to keep this blog rated PG, but I’m really struggling today. I don’t understand how this movie got made. Some other company other than the Broccoli family must have secured the rights to the first Bond novel. Okay. Fine. So another studio decided to make a Bond movie. It wouldn’t be canon, but neither was Never Say Never Again and that wasn’t terrible. Oh, and they decided to make Casino Royale a parody of James Bond movies. Hey, nothing wrong with that. Austin Powers was a parody of James Bond and I found it hilarious.
But 1967’s Casino Royale went horribly wrong. When you parody something, you actually have to know something about what you’re parodying. It’s evident to me that no one who worked on this movie had ever read a Bond novel or even seen one of the Connery pictures. I guess Billy Wilder is to blame on this one. From what I’ve read, this is one of those screenplays that got lost in development hell. Ben Hecht had taken the first crack at it, opting for a straight adaptation of the novel. Billy Wilder would eventually rewrite it, changing it into a spoof. And apparently, Peter Sellers hired Terry Southern to write dialogue for his character that would outshine Orson Wells and Woody Allen.
Yes, Orson Wells and Woody Allen are in this motion picture. So is John Huston. This is bizarre. Woody Allen insisted that he would not receive a writing credit of any sort for this movie. How kind of him. Peter Sellers got into a fistfight with the director, George McGrath. Peter Sellers also refused to star in scenes with Orson Welles because he was afraid/intimidated and/or was jealous that Welles got more attention from Princess Margaret during her visit to the set. Orson Welles also insisted on performing magic tricks in his scenes because why not.
And then we have David Niven as a retired James Bond who ends being subjected to various seduction techniques by young women with bad Scottish accents.
What else? Cowboys and Indians show up during the films final brawl in the casino. A chimpanzee in a toupee eats soap bubbles. A flying saucer kidnaps Bond’s niece.
I can’t do this anymore. Sometimes when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back. Casino Royale is that abyss. I leave you with Orson Welles yelling at an English guy.