James Bond in a full-blown hellzapoppin’? Why yes – and such a thing could only happen in 1967.
At no other time during the incomprehensible history of this planet could anyone corral Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, Ursula Andress, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, John Huston and Woody Allen into anything other than some kind of surrealistic documentary. And top it off by having six directors undertake separate segments of the film – just to make it even more lucid.
Oh sorry, let’s have the star,Peter Sellers, quit halfway through the film (peeved at Orson Welles, abandoning a roster of key scenes) leaving the writers desperate to disguise gaping plot holes.
The film is a mess, and therein lays its strength. It’s as if it was made by a precocious twelve-year-old. Lots of energy and color and noise. One thinks of Macbeth – ‘It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Almost nothing. This film introduced one of our greatest lounge songs – and the world heard it for the first time as Ursula Andress walked in slow motion past an enormous, vibrant aquarium, Peter Sellers trailing in anticipation. Burt Bacharach/Hal David’s ‘The Look of Love’ added a prestige to the film it most certainly didn’t deserve.
Or maybe it did – and does. Composer Stephen Sondheim told us that “art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” And this song does just that, settling it all down for about three minutes while Dusty Springfield purrs the ultimate, late-night paean to seduction. Oh yeah…
Few films offer you such a psychedelic mosaic of sexism, racism, uneven wit, scattered performances and meandering plotlines as Casino Royale. If you have never been in a valley, you can’t appreciate a mountain. Let this film truly refresh your cinematic palette.
Ian M. Clarke can be reached at