CASINO ROYALE  [Blu-ray] [UK Release] CASINO ROYALE Is Too Much . . . For One James Bond!
With gadgets, gaming and girls galore, this camp classic is not only the coolest of the spy films, but it's also a brilliant parody of itself!
Will the real "James Bond" please stand up? When secret agency chief "M" [John Huston] is killed, James Bond [David Niven] is thrust out of spy retirement to help smash SMERSH, the band of hit men who are likely responsible. And to protect his real identity, Bond's name is given to numerous other agents, including Evelyn Tremble [Peter Sellers] and Bond's neurotic nephew, Jimmy [Woody Allen]. With five directors, a cast of Hollywood icons that also includes Ursula Andress, Charles Boyer, Peter O'Toole, Jacqueline Bisset and Orson Welles, a soundtrack by Burt Bacharach and a frisky, farcical script, Casino Royale is Bond. Psychedelic Bond.
FILM FACT: Burt Bacharach's musical score was praised, earning him an Academy Award® nomination for the song "The Look of Love" and was performed by Dusty Springfield.
Cast: Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, David Niven, Orson Welles, Joanna Pettet, Daliah Lavi, Woody Allen, Deborah Kerr, William Holden, Charles Boyer, John Huston, Kurt Kasznar, George Raft, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Terence Cooper, Barbara Bouchet, Angela Scoular, Gabriella Licudi, Tracey Crisp, Elaine Taylor, Jacqueline Bisset, Alexandra Bastedo, Anna Quayle, Derek Nimmo, Ronnie Corbett, Colin Gordon, Bernard Cribbins, Tracy Reed, John Bluthal, Geoffrey Bayldon, John Wells, Duncan Macrae, Graham Stark, Chic Murray, Jonathan Routh, Richard Wattis, Vladek Sheybal, Percy Herbert, Penny Riley, Jeanne Roland, Jennifer Baker (uncredited), Susan Baker (uncredited), R.S.M. Brittain (uncredited), Geraldine Chaplin (uncredited), Erik Chitty (uncredited), Alexander Doré (uncredited), Valentine Dyall (uncredited), Hal Galili (uncredited), Veronica Gardnier (uncredited), Bob Godfrey (uncredited), Jack Gwillim (uncredited), Anjelica Huston (uncredited), Burt Kwouk (uncredited), John Le Mesurier (uncredited), Yvonne Marsh (uncredited), Caroline Munro (uncredited), Peter O'Toole (uncredited), David Prowse (uncredited), Milton Reid (uncredited), Robert Rowland (uncredited), Richard Talmadge (uncredited), Nikki Van der Zyl (uncredited), Mona Washbourne (uncredited), Jennifer White (uncredited) Robert Rietty (Dubbing voice)
Directors: John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Richard Talmadge (uncredited) and Val Guest
Producers: Charles K. Feldman, Jerry Bresler and John Dark
Screenplay: Ben Hecht (uncredited), Billy Wilder (uncredited), John Law, Joseph Heller (uncredited), Michael Sayers, Peter Sellers (uncredited), Terry Southern (uncredited), Val Guest (additional dialogue) (uncredited), Wolf Mankowitz, Woody Allen (uncredited) and Ian Fleming (suggested by the novel "Casino Royale")
Composer: Burt Bacharach
Cinematography: Jack Hildyard, BSC, Nicolas Roeg, BSC and John Wilcox, BSC
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono, French: Dolby Digital Mono, German: Dolby Digital Mono and Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish
Running Time: 125 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: At the height of the James Bond craze in the mid-sixties, the studio executives at Columbia Pictures desperately wanted to capitalize on the 007 phenomenon, but Harry Saltman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, who had a distribution deal with United Artists. owned the rights to every Ian Fleming novel except one 'Casino Royale,' which had been acquired by producer Charles K. Feldman in 1967. A deal was struck to create the biggest James Bond extravaganza of all time, but the resulting film was something else entirely a wildly uneven parody that required the services of five directors, countless screenwriters, and a cast of international actors and celebrities, many of them reduced to fleeting cameo appearances.
In the early days before Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were in the picture, Ian Fleming's first James Bond title had been sold to Charles K. Feldman for a substantial sum. The bad news is that it would take fifteen years to make it to the big screen. By that point, five James Bond films were already out and there seem to be no hope to make an alternate James Bond picture. The filmmakers in their infinite wisdom decided to scrap the storyline, keep the title, and make a spy spoof which had been making lots of money at that time with the success of the Matt Helm and 'Our Man Flint' films. With Charles K. Feldman's agent connections, he established an all-star cast not to mention five directors to make the ultimate wide spy spoof with the number of 007 attached to it. The result was 'Casino Royale.'
It's a dark time for the spy world. Five agents go to a remote spot to one car to seek out bringing Sir James Bond [David Niven] out of retirement for his assistance. Unfortunately, James Bond has been living a modest life and does not much care about the spy world as he used to. That is, until an attempt on his life at his residence claims the life of his former boss "M" [John Huston] whose only remains happen to be his toupee. After some careful thought at his former boss' residence, he takes over his superior's position to counteract on the mysterious deaths within the organisation using his moniker for recruits to use in order to confuse the organisation known as SMERSH and its chief enemy Dr. Noah [Woody Allen]. This includes a baccarat expert Evelyn Tremble / James Bond 007 [Peter Sellers] and his long lost daughter with Mata Hari. Together they infiltrate their main hideout which is under the cover name "Casino Royale."
It was best that a familiarity with the 'Our Man Flint' series and the Austin Powers films are enough to satisfy with this all star vehicle. The wackiness plus the use of the kind of jokes that you don't know whether to laugh or not happen to be used to a great extent. A lot of the craziness going on in this movie makes a viewer wonder if the filmmakers were all on something during the production. Nonetheless, it's a psychedelic spy spoof with a nutty sense of some of the previous Bond films as well as brandishing its own brand of cool, thanks to a solid score by Burt Bacharach and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
The look of the sets in this film is quite breath-taking and full of colour and uses a wonderful stained glass palette that let all the colours explode out sixties style. As for the performances, they all range from being in the movie a little while to a glorified cameo to some uncredited that do surprise and make me grin at their use in this film. All is different in this incarnation of James Bond and 007, and this multi-directed film came with much criticism and was not looked on too highly at the time. It was also not a box office success. However in this day in age when spoofing the sixties is a happening, it does freak me out in a way that spreads it away from the traditional Bond series and into its own groovy mould.
By the end, the budget of 'Casino Royale' had swollen from its initial cost of $12 million to more than twice that amount. And no wonder the costs were high considering the extensive locations included Paris, the South of France, West Berlin, Ireland, and the Pinewood and MGM-British studios in England. The mammoth slapstick climax alone, featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo as a French Legionnaire, George Raft as himself, and countless famous faces and cost $1 million and took two months to shoot! Yet, despite the film's troubled production history, there is fun to be had amid the insanity, everything from Scottish comedian Ronnie Corbett as a robot with a German accent to the lovely Jacqueline Bisset as Miss Goodthighs. So, if you want to experience the Hollywood-style Sixties, this is the ultimate pit stop and an enjoyable one had by all.
'Casino Royale' was a big box-office hit and it's not hard to find passionate fans of the film due to its oddball and chaotic structure; it's closer to a sixties "happening" than a major studio release. After all, what's not to like about a film that features a Burt Bacharach score performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Dusty Springfield singing "The Look of Love" while Ursula Andress seduces Peter Sellers, Woody Allen in one of his first screen roles as the megalomaniac Dr. Noah (billed as "the tallest dwarf in the world"), lavish special effects, and groovy art direction with all the psychedelic trappings?
Blu-ray Video Quality ' Here we have an awesome 2.35:1 aspect ratio and an even more stunning 1080p image is about the most inconsistent that I've encountered on Blu-Ray, then again I've never seen a film with half a dozen directors, either. Image quality varies from scene to scene, but it's a reflection of the source material I'm sure. I will say that Ursula Andress looks as good as ever. Though the detail has been improved over the previous inferior DVD format release, there's still a bit of edge enhancement that I noticed. Still, it's what I believe to be a step up from the previous DVD and if this kind of movie floats your boat - should find a nice home next to the "real" Bond movies in your collection.
Blu-ray Audio Quality ' The disc has a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track, but let's not get too excited? The Audio has been cleaned up a bit and though this title in no way competes with the newer soundtracks, does have a moment or two of greatness. Take "greatness" with a grain of salt, if you please. Dialogue sounds nice and natural with little to no distortion. It's about as close to a mono track as you can get without actually being mono. Still, it's not a horrible or unlistenable mix and for that and I'm very pleased.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Bond Historians Steven Jay Rubin and John Cork: Steven Jay Rubin is author of The Complete James Bond Encyclopaedia, and John Cork has co-authored several books about Bond, as well as biographies of Ian Fleming, Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Cork has also co-produced many of the documentaries included on the "ultimate" Bond DVDs. Between them, Steven Jay Rubin and John Cork provide a wealth of detail not only about 'Casino Royale' and its troubled history, but also about film history in general and various personalities both in front of and behind the camera. The commentary often takes on a "six degrees of James Bond" quality, as the speakers riff on the subsequent careers and chance connections of people involved in the film. Example: Woody Allen appeared in 'Casino Royale' and did uncredited writing work. In 2006, Woody Allen was nominated for a screenwriting OSCAR®, as was Paul Haggis, making it the only year when two writers who had worked on the same James Bond story were nominated for an OSCAR®.
Special Feature: The Making of Casino Royale  [41:30] This special documentary presents a relatively straightforward, chronological account of the film's genesis and troubled production, using informative interview footage from many of the participants. They include directors Val Guest and Joseph McGrath; actresses Joanna Pettet, Daliah Lavi and Jacqueline Bisset; cameramen Nicholas Roeg and Alex Thomson; and assistant director Roy Baird. The documentary is divided into five parts: Bond . . . James Bond?, A Three Ring Circus, More Directors . . . More Stars!, The Big Climax and It's a Wrap!
Theatrical Trailer  [2:22] This Original Theatrical Trailer announces that it is 'Too big for just one Bond!' At least so they claimed.
Finally, this 1967 `Casino Royale' definitely inspires a 'cult' appreciation. Similar to its finale - this remains a jumbled mass of bubbles and fun. If you can allow the fun to sweep over you rather than scrutinize it - you will definitely be better-off for your viewing experience. Plots don't always have to make sense - and looking at `Casino Royale' as another disjointed 'runaway production' kind of adds to its kitsch. I like the performances and all tongue-in-cheek and the sexy 1960's gals like Ursula Andress, Joanna Pettet, Daliah Lavi, Jacqueline Bisset etc. plus Bacharach's peppy theme gives it some real joy. The Blu-ray, in my opinion, represents the best it's going to get for this psychedelic James Bond film. Have some fun... the price encourages it and a total honour to add this to my James Bond Blu-ray Collection as it is a fun ride throughout its 125 minutes. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller ' Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
on November 29, 2002
The psychedelic technicolor on this DVD was worth waiting for. It's worth keeping for the pictures alone, but then there's the fabulous music (including the immortal Audiophile wet dream "Look of Love" sung by Dusty Springfield playing while Ursula Andress seduces Peter Sellers, and also the equally immortal Tijuana Brass and Burt Bacharach), and the incredible star actors who do a fine job under the circumstances, especially Niven, Sellers, Allen, and Andress. There isn't much of a plot, almost zero continuity, loose ends galore, and total chaos in parts, but in the end the goodness of the parts makes the whole worthwhile. It's a miracle, maybe, but it works. Oh, and I need to mention the sexy girls, the macho guys, the incredible costumes, the gags, the props, ad infinitum. Apparently part of it was filmed below the Playboy club in London from which they got lots of extras.
While worth keeping, this is obviously not a "great" movie in any sense, so I'm surprised at all the 5 star ratings. Fortunately they tend to balance off the unfair 1 star ratings. I enjoyed this more than both "Austin Powers International Man of Mystery" (which kept me wincing) and "Our Man Flint" (which seemed rather short, hollow, and cheap...low budget obviously...). I'd actually give Casino Royale 3.5 stars if I could. It's easily better than the other spoofs, and ALMOST a great movie in its own right. When you understand what the producer was doing, and how the film was made, that's a miracle.
If you want to see the "real" Casino Royale plot, the TV version from the 1950's is included, unfortunately cut a few minutes short I've read here.
The documentary by the director who ultimately got the unenviable job of glueing this all together (Val Guest) was instructive. It's a miracle this movie was ever finished. The producer (an ex-agent) simply hired a number of top directors and ordered them each to do their thing. There was no "book" (the actual book was to be ignored since almost all the material in it had previously been used in "serious" Bond films). To make it worse, Orson Wells refused to do any significant amount of acting with Peter Sellers (who he considered an "Amateur"), so their scenes had to be spliced together. Though Val doesn't explain this, that might have led to Seller's sick-out, when then led to having Sellers fired, so they had to figure out how to complete the movie without Sellers. That's really a pity, because Sellers is actually an outstanding actor and does outstanding work here (much better than Wells, in fact). He's only topped by Niven. (And despite what Wells seemed to think of himself, I consider even Casino Royale better than any of his "serious" movies...Orson Wells is the most overrated actor and director in history IMHO, but he does a adequate job here as a bit part actor.)