And now I know why.
Like I said, Casino Royale (which Daniel adores, for many reasons now very obvious) is a mess of a film-- a glorious tribute to the excesses of producers who believe they have such a hot property that, like a hyperactive dog with a soup bone, they don't know what to do with it. The hot property here was the film rights to "Casino Royale," the first Ian Fleming 007 novel from 1953. These rights eluded Cubby Broccoli and EON Productions, ending up in the hands of Charles K. Feldman and Columbia Pictures.
|Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond / Mr. Noah. I'm guessing Charles Feldman|
Owed him a solid for writing What's New, Pussycat? and gave him the
juicy Villain role. He was not as funny as you'd expect in this film.
And, like I said, it's a mess. There were six directors and even more screenwriters. Peter Sellers walked off the production, leaving huge holes of missing footage. Orson Welles insisted on doing magic tricks in his scenes. In the end, the filmmakers got so desperate they literally hung the numbers "007" on everything: seals, monkeys and on a plane full of awful Native American stereotypes (who parachute while saying "Geronimo!" Get it?)
The jumpy, scattered storyline is in some ways ahead of its time. Movies of this era were often plodding and linear: it took breakthroughs like Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider to move Hollywood cinema to a more punctuated style of narrative. In Casino Royale this evolution happened accidentally: The very effort to salvage this movie -- missing stars, unshot footage, plainly overindulgent style-- into releasable form created a weird dreamlike flow to the story. This interpretation makes quite a bit of sense: If you were dreaming about, say, James Bond, and his appearance shifts from David Niven to Terence Cooper to Peter Sellers, that would seem to the dreamer as a perfectly normal development. Locations shift nonsensically: characters are carefully established, disappear, then re-appear: To the dreamer, none of this seems out of place. So now you know why I didn't remember seeing this film as a kid: can anyone really remember dreams?
It's about as insane as any Terence Malick or David Lynch movie, but much funnier.