Friday, June 18, 2010

The Insanometer: Casino Royale

Someday, I pray someone will make a movie about the making of the 1967 Bond spoof "Casino Royale". Because while the movie itself is wildly uneven at best, the story of how it was made is an epic tale of clashing egos, dueling directors, and Hollywood excess that is absolutely riveting. For those of you who don't know, producer Charles K. Feldman managed to get the film rights to the Bond novel before the series of books became a wildly successful series of movies. He tried to make a deal with the people at EON Productions, but when that fell through, he decided to produce the film as a Bond spoof (since he couldn't get things like the theme music, Connery as Bond, the Bond logo, et cetera.)

Feldman's reworked film involved a baccarat expert impersonating James Bond in order to trick Le Chiffre into competing against him, and getting into difficulties when he had to act as a suave superspy instead of the bookish mathematician he really was. The screenplay was finished, the film was cast, shooting began...and it turned out that stars Orson Welles and Peter Sellers could not stand each other. It was hatred at first sight. Sellers either quit or was fired (accounts differ as to which) with the film only half-finished.

Feldman's solution was, to say the least, unique. He hired several other directors, had them film comic vignettes featuring random actors as Bond, and then put together a framing sequence where David Niven, the "original" Bond, put together a complex scheme to confuse SMERSH by setting loose hordes of fake Bonds!

The result is a movie that perfectly encapsulates the experience of watching AMC when you have a high fever. You'll be watching a scene, and it doesn't make any sense to you, and then without any warning or transition it'll become some other scene with totally different characters and you're not sure how any of it fits together, and you don't remember falling asleep but you figure you must have because you don't recognize anything that's going on and none of it connects with anything else and then it ends in something that you're absolutely sure has to be one of those nightmares you get when you're not quite sick enough to go to the hospital, but very very close. It's a movie that has to be seen to be believed, and even then I'm not quite sure I didn't dream it. I can't even actually summarize the plot, because it doesn't follow any kind of linear logic. On the Insanometer, this one is a perfect ten, and I'm strongly resisting the temptation to give it an eleven.


Zach said...

re: your civil war post on MGK

Actually, Cap may’ve been hunted by the government for any number of charges unrelated to the Superhuman Registration Act. He’s military, so when he declined to take Maria Hill’s side, that could be considered dereliction of duty. When he busted out of the Helicarrier, he attacked federal agents/soldiers (depending on how you define SHIELD agents), damaged federal property (jumping out the window of the Helicarrier and stole a frigging fighter jet and basically kidnapped the pilot.

John Seavey said...

Except that he's not military, and hasn't been in some time. They did a big story in the 80s that settled Cap's relationship with the US government; suffice to say, he is not a government agent and does not have to follow directives.

As for the latter...arguing that he broke the law by resisting arrest? "Well, we had about a dozen armed federal agents waiting for you, and you didn't break any laws...but when they started shooting at you with no legal justification, you didn't let them. That's gotta break some kind of law, right?"

Anonymous said...

thanks for the explanation re the Peter Sellers Casino Royale. I saw it in the 1980s and figured I just didn't understand the humor... but now I see I wasn't really supposed to understand the humor, because it really was as convoluted as I thought.

Zach said...

Hey John,
I'm not sure Cap's military status is so cut-and-dried pre-Civil War. Early on in New Avengers, he tells Maria Hill that he has "full champion status", which lets him assemble a team of operatives at any time, for any mission, even without approval from SHIELD. That suggests at least some sort of employment by/relationship with the government and/or the military.

And for the latter, I don't believe (don't have the actual issues in front of me), but I think they didn't start shooting until he rabbited. Granted, if he isn't military (though I would argue he is/was) or a federal agent, he's allowed to run as he pleases.