CASINO ROYALE is one of the truly great bad movies of all time. It is a wonderfully weird, bold, funny and incoherent mess of a movie. What should stink of embarrassing desperation, instead proves to cheerfully insane, unpredictable and remarkably free of common sense.
The film was intended to be the ultimate spy spoof, an attempt to out-Bond the James Bond movies and their innumerable imitators. To this end, the untold number of writers and directors involved have opted to take the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to storytelling, mixed with a cut-and-paste style of editing. It is obvious that no one gave the slightest thought to creating a genuine spy film and instead approached the film with a devil-may-care attitude. As far as the actors are concerned, CASINO ROYALE seems to be little more than an excuse to have a multimillion dollar party at the studio's expense. As a satire of Bond films, CASINO is adequate; as a satire of the then trendy-swinging-cool-hip-with-it-now youth films of the era, it succeeds beautifully.
Basically you have a whole bunch of big name stars -- past their prime, but still with box office credibility -- ridiculing the very youth market that was squeezing them off the theatre marquees. Yet, the film has no malice; it is as bright and breezy as a screwball comedy with just a touch of British absurdity. It is amazing that a film that is so overblown, over produced and over budgeted can still be so light and airy. Despite a chaotic recipe, the film has a lot of really great ingredients. The cast is slumming in style (where else can you find Orson Welles, John Huston and Woody Allen hamming it up in the same film or Peter O'Toole, George Raft, Charles Boyer and Jean-Paul Belmondo dropping in for fleeting cameos?) And you have one of the best soundtrack albums ever, including Herb Alpert's title track and Dusty Springfield's sexy, sultry rendition of the Bacharach and David classic "The Look of Love." Plus, you get Woody Allen as an evil genius out to take over the world and Deborah Kerr dangling from the drain pipe of a Scottish castle.
And, to some extend, the film gets Bond right. As the legit James Bond series grinds on, getting ever more pompous, humorless and heavy-handed, CASINO ROYALE sees the whole genre for what it is: an absurdist lark. Indeed, if CASINO ROYALE has a soul mate, it is not GOLDFINGER, but the "Batman" TV series, another pop culture phenomenon designed to deflate pretense with overblown villains, outrageously silly situations, off-the-wall cameos and a tongue placed firmly in the cheek.
What's not to love?
After the death of M, Sir James Bond is called back out of retirement to stop SMERSH. In order to trick SMERSH and Le Chiffre, Bond thinks up the ultimate plan. That every agent will be named James Bond. One of the Bonds, whose real name is Evelyn Tremble is sent to take on Le Chiffre in a game of baccarat, but all the Bonds get more than they can handle.
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April 23, 2019 at 05:38 AM