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. Written by
When Bond (Niven) and Moneypenny are trying to escape the secret SMERSH base, we suddenly cut back to them and see that Mata Bond and Cooper have wordlessly joined them. Although Mata Bond was put in the same base earlier, Cooper was last seen much earlier in the film safe at MI5, and his presence in the base id never explained. See more »
The opening credit animation by Richard Williams parodies illuminated manuscripts with cartoon-style calligraphy. It sets the tone for the film as a psychedelic "knight's tale" of Sir James Bond. See more »
It helps if you're able to live in Kierkegaard's unfolding moment if you want to enjoy this movie. Or in Fritz Perl's "here and now", to switch hoaxes in midstream.
It's pointless to compare "Casino Royale" to any of the other "straight" Bond films. There is no "plot" worthy of the name. The five disparate directors saw to that, to the extent that the writers didn't. It's a succession of gags, puns, and visual effects taking place in spectacularly designed settings, spoofs of German expressionism, psychedelic imagery, and all that. Some of the gags miss the mark. A British soldier who has been practicing karate chops on wooden boards comes to a stiff attention when his superior approaches and snaps a quivering Brit-style salute, knocking himself out with his own hand. Ha ha.
Such silliness abounds and at times the movie drags a bit, but there is always another joke around the corner. Orson Welles, with his fat cigar at the card table, performing magic tricks with flags and scarves amid flashing lights while everyone whistles and applauds. Peter Sellers trying on different costumes for Ursula Andress, including one of a gruff old general, "There's nothing wrong with the British Ahmy -- that a damned good swim won't cure."
You really can't look for logic in all of this. Listen to the score and watch the performers squeeze the most possible laughs out of their situations. Too bad the movie loses steam at the end so that what should be a climactic pulling together of all the accumulated lines of narrative and jokes is, instead, just plain silly -- clapping seals, parachuting Indians. Ridiculous, but not funny. Writers who have trouble ending absurd movies like this seem to think that a few minutes of chaotic slapstick will serve. "What's New, Pussycat" had the same problem, with people running frantically from room to room in a hotel, a Feydeau farce without laughs. "Sex and the Single Girl" thrust everybody into vehicles and sent them racing down a California freeway with nothing to say. Just about all of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" was an attempt to substitute destruction and speed for wit.
I saw this movie when it was released and laughed from beginning to end. I don't find it quite so funny now, (I don't find ANYTHING quite so funny anymore) but I watch it when I can. It's an opportunity to live in the unfolding moment.
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