Anthony's Film Review
Casino Royale (1967)
A movie so bad that it doesn't even qualify as an entertaining spoof of any kind...
Casino Royale was Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, yet it has been adapted to film three times. Aside from 2006's Casino Royale that is part of the official James Bond series, there was a 1954 episode of the TV show Climax! that aired an Americanized version of Casino Royale, with Barry Nelson as Jimmy Bond, and the 1967 movie Casino Royale, a spoof with David Niven as James Bond. I saw neither of these unofficial versions of Casino Royale as a teenager discovering the real Bond movies. Only later did I see the 1967 version of Casino Royale. Now I can tell you that there is absolutely no hurry to see it if you haven't, because it actually isn't that good.
After a very quick scene with James Bond, the movie begins with the opening credits sequence. Right away, there is a problem. The movie is supposed to be a James Bond spoof, but it doesn't even try to be one. The theme music does not sound at all like something from a spy movie. It's more like a campy tune for a family movie. As for the visuals, it's just a bunch of colorful credits. Not a single image that reminds the audience that this is a James Bond spoof.
Then after the credits, the movie eventually introduces the retired (yes, retired) James Bond. Even then, this part goes on and on with lame jokes about anything but espionage. There was a scene where I barely laughed. It involved Scotsmen and some clumsy antics. Otherwise, I could see that the movie had no focus. At this point, I could care less that the movie was marketed as a James Bond spoof. Even then, I still didn't enjoy the movie even as a spoof of anything and everything.
At last, James Bond goes to intelligence headquarters. This is the part that I'd been waiting for, but after such a long wait, I didn't care anymore. Then I realized another problem. If this is a James Bond spoof, why does it have to have a character named James Bond? You can have a spoof that makes fun of James Bond but can still stand on its own, like the Austin Powers movies. If that's not enough, here's another problem with this movie. David Niven as James Bond is actually not the focus of the movie. He's really more of a secondary character.
The real star appears to be Peter Sellers as Evelyn Tremble, a man who is asked to assume the identity of James Bond. There is also Ursula Andress (yes, the same one from Dr. No) as Vesper Lynd, Orson Welles as Le Chiffre, and Woody Allen as Bond's nephew Jimmy Bond. It's an interesting cast for this type of film, but as I already lost so much interest, I didn't care about the characters either. Perhaps the various women were sexy, but that's it.
From the middle of the film to the very end, I still didn't perk up. There is a somewhat interesting surprise about the real villain, but it's mediocre at best. As for the climactic scene, it's a comic sequence that strangely seems out of place. Basically, it's something that would come out of Blazing Saddles rather than a spy spoof. And the last shot before the credits is just ridiculous. I was relieved when the credits rolled.
There you have it. I did not like this movie. It was painful to sit through because it was just so boring and dull. It doesn't matter if it's a James Bond spoof or a comedy without any references to 007. It's badly written and poorly executed. I really don't understand what director Charles Feldman was thinking. All I can say is that I'm glad Eon Productions, the company behind the official Bond films, adapted Casino Royale as a serious action movie and incorporated it into its own canon. That's where it really belongs.
For more information about Casino Royale, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films
Unofficial James Bond Films