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Casino Royale
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Synopsis for
Casino Royale (1967) More at IMDbPro »

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Casino Royale (1967)

Sir James Bond (David Niven) retired at the height of his powers when forced to betray his lover Mata Hari, and now lives in an English country house, surrounded by lions, devoting himself to Debussy and cultivating black roses, attended by his butler (Erik Chitty). However, alarmed by the mounting losses of their spies, he is visited by the heads of the British ('M' or McTarry; John Huston), French (LeGrand; Charles Boyer), American (Ransome; William Holden) and Russian (Smernov; Kurt Kasznar) Secret Services (collectively driven by M's chauffer John LeMesurier), who petition him to return. He refuses, considering himself to belong to a nobler tradition, and them all gadget-ridden "jokeshop" spies, and deploring the handing on of his legend, name and number to a "sexual acrobat". Even a letter from the Queen does not sway him, and as a final desperate trick M signals for Sir James' home to be blown up by the Army: the attack also kills M (but not, apparently, the others).

Smersh Authority (the villains) learns that "Sir James Bond is back, with his morals, his vows and his celibate image. We must destroy that image".

Sir James, thus forced out of retirement, travels to Scotland, taking M's toupee (the only surviving relic or heirloom) to M's widow, Lady Fiona, who has been substituted by Smersh agent Mimi (Deborah Kerr). She explains the rituals surrounding the death of The McTarry, which include a banquet (with fresh goat haggis and lots of whisky), dancing, and a memorial grouse shoot ("Whenever a McTarry dies, the grouse come into season"). The castle is filled with beautiful girls, agents of Smersh, pretending to be M's eleven 16-19-year-old daughters ("some of us are adopted") including Heather (Tracey Crisp) and Meg (Alexandra Bastedo), who undress Sir James for his bath ("be careful, that's my loose kneecap"), Buttercup ("Daddy's little thermometer", Angela Scoular) whom Sir James discovers actually in his bath, as well as Eliza (Gabriella Licudi), Peg (Elaine Taylor), and Michele (Frances Cosslett).

Sir James drinks all the others under the table at the banquet, but when later approached by Mimi in his bedroom claiming he "comfort her" as her "widow's due", upon rejecting her, she calls him a "ninnogaywillycouf" and summons the pipers for a 'worzle', a contest which involves picking up and attempting to throw large stone cannonballs. This he wins, largely as the five pipers (Robin, Jock, Sandy: Bob Godfrey, Percy Herbert) injure themselves in trying to pick up the balls, whereas he manages to pick one up, throw it and catch it. Mimi is so impressed the other girls decide she is a risk and lock her in her room.

At the grouse shoot, one of Sir James' cape buttons has been substituted with a homing beacon, and the girls send rocket-launched explosive-laden dummy grouse towards him. Assisted by Mimi, who has escaped down the rather unsafe drainpipe from her room, Sir James uses his braces to fire the button back into the rocket launcher, blowing it up. Mimi, injured, wins a farewell kiss from Sir James ("Madam, are you quite sure you're dying?") before entering a convent, and tells him that their orders came from "Authority: International Mothers' Help, East Berlin" (1).

Driving back from Scotland, Sir James is trailed by a remote-controlled booby-trapped milk float (control girl Penny Riley), but manages to escape so that it kills yet another Smersh agent (). In London, he takes over as head of the British Secret Service, whose only surviving members are his secretary Miss Moneypenny (or rather her daughter; Barbara Bouchet), and his assistant Hadley (or rather his son; Derek Nimmo), who explain that all the secret agents apart from Sir James' replacement (now doing television) have been killed in sexually suggestive situations ("stabbed to death in a ladies sauna bath", "burnt in a blazing bordello", "garrotted in a geisha house", etc.) with the possible exception of Sir James' nephew, Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen), last seen in the Caribbean escaping a firing squad ("I have a very low threshold of death") with an exploding cigarette, only to end up in front of another firing squad. Sir James decides to call up all the auxiliary staff, and to create the ultimate 'Anti-Female Spy Device' - a man whom all women desire, but who is indifferent to them. Miss Moneypenny is tasked with finding one such ("your mother did some of her best work at night"), and she finds Cooper ('Coop': Terence Cooper: "Sounds like something for keeping birds." "That's me"). Coop, a holder of the 'Kama Sutra Black Belt', is then sent for his anti-female training, against a gym-full of a variety of exotic, exotically dressed Bond girls (Yvonne Marsh, Veronica Gardnier - there are over 200 beautiful girls in the film), overcoming them all but eventually meeting new secret weapon The Detainer (Daliah Lavi), who also becomes 007 ("I don't do anything, but, unless you're one of them, you do"), Sir James having decided that to create confusion all agents, both male and female, will become 'James Bond, 007'.

Sir James personally recruits two new 007 spies. The first is wealthy Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress: assistant Valentine Dyall), who Sir James persuades using a 5m tax arrears demand (2). Vesper is given the task of approaching and recruiting Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers: "Isn't Evelyn a girl's name? No, its mine"), an expert in baccarat at the Buckingham Club, whom Sir James wants to use to defeat Smersh's treasurer, Le Chiffre (Orson Welles), currently gambling with Smersh's money at Casino Royale. She does this, seducing Tremble at her Mayfair flat (to which she has lately had Nelson's Column removed) and also encouraging him to dress up in a number of costumes (including Napoleon - complete with 'Sunny Elba' pamphlet - Hitler and Toulouse-Lautrec: "Come on, you have more to do". "More?!"). Tremble, now also James Bond, 007, goes to Q (Geoffrey Bayldon) and his fey assistant Fordyce (John Wells) in their cellars full of inept inventions (where he is also shadowed by a dwarf dressed as a garden gnome "He's our security man") for his fitting with a gadget-filled suit ("a little bit tight about the..." "Poison capsule compartment?").

Sir James then recruits his own daughter by Mata Hari, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet), currently working as a living Eastern goddess ("Celestial Virgin of the Sacred Altar" "Figuratively speaking, of course": temple guard Milton Reid, monk John Hollis): there is a superb temple dance sequence. Mata Bond is sent to West Berlin by London taxicab (taxicab driver Bernard Cribbins) to infiltrate International Mothers' Help, known to be a Smersh cover for the Mata Hari School of Dancing, a spy training school, with rather complex neo-Cubist dcor, presided over by the formidable Frau Hoffner (Anna Quale) and the diminutive Polo (Ronnie Corbett). Revealing her identity as Mata Hari's daughter, she is shown by Polo to her mother's old room ("What an enormous bed!" "The German army was very large in those days"), where she discovers a secret passageway activated by the cistern, which leads to a projection suite: she also discovers 'little Otto' one of her mother's lovers ("Is he dead?" "Hard to tell. He always looked like that"). She learns that Le Chiffre is, via his agent (Vladek Sheybal) auctioning his art collection of blackmail photographs to raise money: the auction in the auditorium is attended by officers from the British (Jack Gwilliam, Richard Wattis), Chinese (Burt Kwouk), American (Hal Galili) and Russian armies. Warned by the taxi-driver (revealed as Carlton-Towers of the Foreign Office) to prevent Le Chiffre raising the money, as the bidding for the first lot escalates ("Seventy million tons of rice!" "Sixty tons of caviar!"), Mata returns to the projection room, seizes the case of projector slides and flushes them away: she then escapes Polo by unplugging his external heart battery, Frau Hoffner is shot by Otto, and Mata, using a foam fire-extinguisher on the assorted military, makes good her escape with Carlton-Towers (first trying a drain, but on hearing 'What's New, Pussycat', by taxi back to London). Le Chiffre's agent, telephoning him to report his failure, and that Smersh's leader Dr. Noah now knows what Le Chiffre has been up to, is blown up in his telephone box (the explosion also destroys part of the Berlin Wall).

Tremble now travels to Casino Royale, where after meeting Matthis, a French inspector of police (with an improbable Scots accent; Duncan Macrae (3)) , and having a car-wash with many eavesdroppers (yet more beautiful girls), in his room meets Miss Goodthighs (Jacqueline Bisset) "the management of the Hotel Tropical present their compliments" who attempts to drug him with doped champagne. Vesper arrives, 'takes care of' Miss Goodthighs, and rouses Tremble.

Vesper and Tremble go the Casino: they deposit 100,000 (cashier Graham Stark) and then meet the casino director Slimmington-Jones (Colin Gordon) in his office. Tremble spots that Le Chiffre is using infra-red spectacles to cheat: Vesper steals these: Le Chiffre shows off with some magic (assistants Jennifer Baker, Susan Baker), and then Tremble and Le Chiffre play a very-high-stakes baccarat game (50 million francs: ~3.6m or $10m at the time), which Tremble ultimately wins. Tremble takes his winnings as a cheque drawn on a Swiss bank.

On the way out of the Casino, Vesper is kidnapped: Tremble, advised of this by the doorman (John Bluthal) follows in a racing car (the racing car driver Sterling Moss, as himself, having run off) but is also captured by Le Chiffre, who wants the cheque. Placed in a very elaborate but broken chair in Le Chiffre's dungeon, he suffers torture - not physical, but mental - eventually becoming a Scot in full Highland costume attacked by four Scots marching bands (including Peter O'Toole), he is rescued by Vesper using a machine gun disguised as bagpipes, who then, however, betrays and kills him (and presumably takes the cheque: "Never trust a rich spy'). Le Chiffre is then killed by Smersh agents sent by Dr. Noah.

Back in London, Sir James goes to see the Prime Minister, leaving Mata to sight-see ("Mummy would have taken me in" "Mummy took everyone in"): she is captured by a Household Cavalry officer () on horseback and taken by flying saucer, which lands on the now-vacated site of Nelson's Column, to Casino Royale, where, it is now revealed, the secret headquarters of Smersh's leader Dr. Noah are located (announcer Valentine Dyall). Advised of this by former agent Mimi, now a nun collecting donations ("This department has always been very helpful to needy girls") Sir James and Moneypenny follow to Casino Royale: attacked in the casino director's room (which is a lift connecting to Dr. Noah's HQ, activated by pushing the eye of a stuffed tiger) they eventually win through to an audience hall with chairs made of gold ingots to see Dr. Noah himself - who turns out to be Sir James' missing nephew, Jimmy Bond. Jimmy is however speechless in his uncle's presence: "I never should have let Nellie send him to progressive school... I'm beginning to think you're a trifle neurotic". Dr. Noah/Jimmy reveals part of his plans (using a taped message); to release a bacillus which will leave all women beautiful and all men shorter than himself; and then hits a gong to summon his staff and have Sir James and Moneypenny incarcerated.

Dr. Noah then reveals to The Detainer, whom he has also captured, stripped and strapped down to a couch ("I learnt that in the Boy Scouts"), his desire to outshine his uncle, and the rest of his plans: to substitute robot doubles for all world leaders (some of which he has already done). He also shows her a pill he has invented, which "looks like an aspirin, it tastes like an aspirin, but it is not an aspirin" - it is in fact an atomic bomb, which goes off after 400 chain reactions. Feigning interest in him, she is released, steals the pill, and manages to slip it into his champagne, and he starts his hiccup-visualized countdown.

Sir James, Mata, Moneypenny and Coop (captured earlier) now manage to escape the psychedelically-decorated room in which they have been imprisoned (using exploding 'vaporized lysergic acid' (4)), and making their way back to the audience hall ("Super place for a coming-out party") and meeting up with The Detainer, find their way back to the Casino (with the aid of Frankenstein's monster: David Prowse). Whilst The Detainer escapes, Sir James tries to call London for aid, but is stopped by Vesper; "Dear Vesper. The things you do for money": who has, however, apparently fallen in love with him, and everything that has happened has been a plan to lure him to her at Casino Royale. He overpowers her, and then he and the remaining James Bonds initiate an attack on the Smersh agents in the Casino, aided by the French (Jean-Paul Belmondo: translates 'Merde!' as 'Ouch') and the Americans, both horse-riding Cowboys and tomahawk-wielding Red Indians (air-dropped with tepees as parachutes: Ransome reappears also): George Raft (as himself) shots himself during the affray, and the Keystone Cops have a cameo. Dr. Noah appears with the final chain-reaction countdown hiccups, and the Casino is explosively completely destroyed, killing all five remaining James Bonds (Sir James, Coop, Vesper, Mata, Moneypenny), as well as Dr. Noah/Jimmy Bond. The closing song explains that six James Bonds (including Tremble) go to "a heavenly spot", Jimmy to "a place where it's terribly hot").

Notes: (1) For younger readers: During the Cold War, the city of Berlin was divided by the Berlin Wall (1961-1989) into West Berlin (under Allied control: the Wall surrounded this) and East Berlin (under Soviet control). One of the motifs of the film is that the International Mothers' Help building straddles the border, this being reflected in the interior dcor and lighting, and a symbolic rope bisecting the auditorium. (2) In 1967, 5m was half of art auctioneers Christie's annual turnover. Nowadays (2009) it buys 10% of a Titian. (3) There is also a brief pre-credits scene where Tremble (as James Bond) and the Inspector meet in a pissoir (4) Lysergic acid is a precursor for lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD - very Sixties). As its melting point is 240oC, and its (theoretical) vaporization point considerably higher (it degrades), a certain technical liberty is taken by considering it to be an explosive vapour collectable in a seat-cushion-cover in the film



(Original version retained below - fades a bit to the end)

Any movie directed by 5 different people is bound to be confusing. This is, off course, no exception.

The movie starts off with James Bond (Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers)) meeting Lieutenant Mathis (Duncan Macrae) of the Special Police in a pissouir in Paris. After Bond checks Mathis' credentials, he follows him out.

The credits roll.

4 cars come in from different directions - a Citroen, a Cadilac, a Bently, and what appears to be something Russian. The 4 chaufers wait by their cars as the 4 passengers get into a Rolls Royce, driven by a fifth chaufer.

Through conversations between M (McTarry (John Huston)), Ransome (William Holden), Le Grand (Charles Boyer), and Smernov (Kurt Kasznar), we learn that this is the home of the original James Bond. He is pure of mind and body. They property is protected by many lions.

James is exercising as the gentlemen arrive. He has a stutter. He complains that the agent that replaced him as James Bond 007 is leaving a trail of dead women behind; that the new gadgets have taken the honour from the profession.

He takes them outside to show them his black rose. Each spy head complains that they are losing agents at an alarming rate. They want James to come out of retirement to fix their shared problems.

James interrupts them to play some Debussy. We learn that Bond retired because he had to lure his lover, Mata Hari, to her death. He returns from playing. M shows him a letter from the Queen. Still, he refuses the request to return to duty. M lights a cigar as a signal, and British troops bomb the property. His mansion is destroyed and M's toupee is blown off.

Cut to a Smersh control room. We hear the head of Smersh (Authority) tell them that James Bond is back, with his morals, vows, and celebate image in tact. He tells them to initiate Plan B to attempt to destroy that image.

We see James driving his Morgan (?) through the British countryside into Scotland. Various spys report his progress. We learn that he is heading for M's (McTarry's) castle. Plan B is in operation with Agent Mimi taking the place of M's widow (Lady Fiona) because she has the best Scot's accent.

Sir James presents the remains of M to Lady Fiona (Deborah Kerr). They explain that they'd heard of the death from the Grey Piper. The room is full of women, mourning. They prepare a traditional hagis feast for midnight, where they will dance the traditional Scotish Fling and drink Ouskabar. It is explained (there's a lot of explaining going on, but it really doesn't help) that they drink until they drop in their tracks, then after an hour's rest, the piper awakes them for the morning grouse shoot.

James is shown to his room, where Meg and Heather help him undress for his bath. The room is full of paintings of nude women. Meg and Heather tell him that they are 2 of M's 11 daughters - all between the ages of 16 and 19. As they walk down the hall to the bath, they walk past a series of bedrooms, each with a gorgeous girl peering out.

James goes into the bath room and starts to undress, when he notices that 17 year old Buttercup is in the tub - testing the water temperature ("Daddy's little thermometer"). She invites him in to scrub his back. James has to turn on the cold water to avoid certain embarassment.

Cut to James' room, where we see Meg and Heather swapping a button on his coat - but they are speaking French! We learn that the button is to be used only as a last resort - that Mimi's never failed before.

At the hagis feast, everyone is drinking scotch. Two girls have their legs entwined with James at the table, as he listens to Mimi pass on some of the McTarry folklore. Everyone eventually passes out except James, who takes his cup and the scotch decanter up to his room.

He's enjoying a nightcap as Mimi comes in and declares "her Widow's Due", insisting that James "doodle her". He refuses, so she insists that he "pay the piper". She blows a silly trumpet solo on a hunting horn, and calls the huge Scottish pipers in. They are going to "wassle" - play catch with heavy stone cannon balls.

The first 5 do themselves in trying to lift and throw the balls. The sixth manages a throw that James catches and throws back. The piper catches the ball, but the weight forces him back, into an armour display, which falls on him and knocks him out. James then picks up the last wassle ball and karate chops it in 2. Mimi is stricken. She praises him in French, blowing her cover. The other girls realize, and lock Mimi in her room.

The next morning, James is out for the grouse shoot. Mimi's locked in her room, and realizes that James is in trouble. The truck that brought the beaters is actually a launcher of exploding grouse. Mimi escapes by sliding down a drainpipe outside her window, and come to warn James that the button on his coat is actually a homing device. He shoots the grouse before they can get too close, and tells Mimi to take off his braces. They use them like a slingshot to fire the button back towards the beaters. The beaters use a garter belt to fling the homing button back. James grabs the return shot, and Mimi is able to fire it into the grouse launcher. Mimi is injured, and commits herself to a nunnery. She tells James that they are run by International Mother's Help in Berlin.

James leaves the McTarry estate, but is followed by a woman driving an E-Type Jaguar. The women in the Smersh control room activate a rigged milk truck. Through some tricky driving, James gets in front of the Jag, and the milk truck loses its visual feed to Control. Control has to set the truck to automatic. James drives into his gated estate and gets the gate closed as the Jag spins into them. The milk truck plows into the Jag, and they both explode.

James shows up at MI5, sees Moneypenny, and gives her a big kiss. Moneypenny enjoys it, but explains that she is actually Moneypenny's daughter. James is on a mission, and has lost his stammer. He meets Hadley, who is also the son of the original Hadley.

Hadley goes over the state of MI5's agents. Most have been lured to their death by enemy women agents. The replacement James Bond has quit to "do television". James' nephew, Jimmy Bond was working as a spy in the Caribbean, but hasn't been heard from in a while. In a flashback, we see Jimmy (Woody Allen) about to face a firing squad. He escapes using an exploding cigarette.

James assigns Moneypenny to find a replacement 007 agent that is desireable to women, but can be trained to resist them. She selects agent Cooper, and spends the night confirming that he is good with women. The next day, she is having trouble staying awake, but James likes Coopers credentials (6" 2 1/2', 184 lbs, Kama Sutra Black Belt).

James announces that all remaining agents and trainees will be known as "James Bond 007" to confuse the enemy.

Cooper goes through his anti-female training, flipping off a girl dressed identically to Ursula Andres in Dr. No. The third girl appears later as Dr. Noah's prisoner.

James shows up at the headquarters of Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress). We learn that she is the world's richest spy. She negotiates a trade of the Eiffel Tower for nuclear warheads, and purchases the Lord Nelson's statue. James requests her help in exchange for reducing a large writ for tax arears.

Vesper approaches Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) at the Buckingham Club. They come close to kissing, as Vesper suggestively tells him that she would like to go over some of the passeges in his book on winning at Baccarat. She has been reading it in her bed. She will send her car to bring him to her place.

Evelyn arrives as Vesper is disposing of a body. In one of the best looking shots in the movie, they walk behind a huge aquarium - in slow motion - to "The Look of Love" song. Vesper is waiting for Evelyn on (in?) her sunken couch. Evelyn admires Lord Nelson's statue from her window. After some suggestive banter, we see Evelyn exercising in his pyjamas and Vesper wearing a nightgown. She films Evelyn dressing up as Hitler, Napolion (complete with a "Sunny Elba" brochure) and Toulouse-Lautrec. She requests his help in breaking La Chiffre, who likes to play high stakes Baccarat. Evelyn accepts, and agrees to become James Bond for the assignment.

Evelyn shows up at the MI5 training facility, where we see frog-men firing bows and arrows and a drill sergent leading his men into an elevator. Evelyn is fitted with a wrist-TV, and body armour vest.

Cut to James Bond's office, and James has learned that International Mother's Help (IMH) is a Smersh front. He decides that Mata Bond should try to infiltrate. She is his iligitmate daughter with Mata Hari.

She gets to IMH and destroys the slides, forcing Le Chiffre to play baccarat.

Tremble to France / Carwash / Miss Goodthighs

Vesper & Tremble to Casino

Le Chiffre's Magic, swap glasses

Tremble plays one hand, and loses. Le Chiffre

Stirling Moss

Big disconnect - Bond is Le Chiffre's prisoner - mind torture

Vesper kills Tremble, Dr. Noah's men kill Le Chiffre

Mata kidnapped - Mimi gives a hint

Ambushed in casino office

Escape, but end up in front of Dr. Noah

Dr. Noah is Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen)

Bacillius

The Detainer

Looks like an Asperin, tastes like an asperin. 400 tiny little time pills.

Vaporized Lysergic Acid - Agent Cooper returns

Frankenstein to office

Vesper pulls gun on Evelyn

American Aid

Monkey wearing toupee

Indians

Police - Keystone Cops

Explosion

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