The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

SPARKY: Loving the Early Films of Woody Allen - sorta kinda ...

I just saw an entire typed blog go *poof* into the ether ... I slightly re edited this because of how goofy linked geocities images are. Anyhow my profile's audio file shows I was way ahead on this particular meme. And folks should ignore the rumor 'someone at ColorSystems' used their hardware to colorize a personal copy of Manhattan. Can't imagine how that got started.
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Sparky admires Woody Allen and really like his early films ... you know the funny ones. Warren Ellis mentioned something about Casino Royale being the pinnacle of cinema - it's not yet in WikiQuote - but just wait for it ... it triggered this response.

There's a joke bit that starts in What's New, Pussycat?; transitions in What's Up, Tiger Lily?; and ends in Charles K. Feldman's Casino Royale:

In Pussycat, Peter O'Toole as Michael James bumps into Richard Burton in a very tame strip club.

Man in Strip Club (uncredited): Excuse me, but don't you know me from somewhere?
Michael: The name's familiar, but I just can't place the face...

I remember the gag in Tiger Lily as similar; I just can't find it; but hey trust me - okay? The retort from CR is —

Piper: Are you Richard Burton?
Evelyn Tremble: No, I'm Peter O'Toole!
Piper: Then you're the greatest man that ever BREATHED.

I own a lot of Frazetta's posters, book covers and a few of his album covers. I do own the book adaptation of Pussycat along with the LP. I don't have the means to scan it at the moment so bear with the 'borrowed art' please. The reason I include the lovely China Lee and Tiger Lily bits are:
A pair of musical interludes featuring folk-rock band The Lovin' Spoonful were added by the film's producers against Allen's wishes; he would insist upon full creative control for all his subsequent films.
Which bring us to Casino Royale - the comedy wasn't the first butchering of Ian's spy under that title - there was an earlier version with a "Jimmy Bond" on American television in the 1950s.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale is a James Bond spoof released on 13 April, 1967 lightly based on the Ian Fleming novel of the same name. It features Orson Welles, as the villain Le Chiffre, battling James Bond in the guises of: Sir James Bond, David Niven, and six other James Bonds—Terence Cooper (named Coop), Woody Allen (Bond's nephew Jimmy Bond), Joanna Pettet (Mata Bond, illegitimate daughter of Mata Hari and James Bond), and Peter Sellers

(card-sharp Evelyn Tremble impersonating Bond at Casino Royale).

Prior to the release, Charles K. Feldman, the producer, had acquired the film rights and attempted to get Casino Royale made as an official James Bond movie; however, the producers of the official series, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, turned him down. Believing he couldn't compete with official series, the novel was then adapted as a spoof of not only of James Bond, but of the entire spy fiction genre. The Sellers–Welles segment is the only portion based upon the novel.

Plot summary

The story of Casino Royale is told in a somewhat disjointed, episodic form and is best outlined in "chapters". Note: some of these chapters overlap.

Chapter 1: M (here referred to by his family name, McTerry, and played by John Huston) accompanies representatives of the CIA, KGB and French secret service to the massive country estate of Sir James Bond (David Niven), a First World War hero who resigned from the secret service after luring the love of his life, Mata Hari, to her death in front of a firing squad. (The film ignores the fact that these events would have taken place 50 years earlier, suggesting that in the Casino Royale universe, the First World War occurred during the time of the real world's Second World War.) During the intervening years, Bond's name has become symbolic of the spirit of the secret service, to the extent that another individual (decried by Bond as being oversexed) has been given his name and his number, 007 (a vague reference to Sean Connery's Bond).

M and the others beg Bond to lend his leadership to a mission investigating the disappearance and deaths of secret agents around the world. When Bond refuses, M orders a military strike on Bond's mansion, but is killed in the attack.

Chapter 2: Sir James travels to McTerry Castle in Scotland in order to return McTerry's remains to his ancestral home. All that remains of M is his toupee, which is promptly dubbed a "hairloom" by Lady Fiona (Deborah Kerr), his grieving widow. Bond soon finds himself fending off the advances of McTerry's many daughters. Unknown to Bond, McTerry's wife and family have been replaced by agents of the mysterious Dr. Noah, who have been assigned to either discredit or kill Bond. But after Bond handily defeats a gang of thugs in a sport involving players throwing a heavy concrete ball at each other, Fiona falls in love with Bond and helps him to escape. En route back to London, Bond survives another attempt on his life involving a remote-controlled dairy truck.

Chapter 3: Bond, now promoted to the position of M, settles into McTerry's old office and his secretary, Miss Moneypenny's daughter (Barbara Bouchet). Bond's first order is to rename all remaining MI6 agents "James Bond 007" in order to confuse the enemy (and, no doubt, the audience). He also orders that an agent be found who has enough self-control to resist the charms of female enemy agents. Such an agent is found in "Coop" (played by one-time Bond candidate Terence Cooper). Although Coop is able to resist the charms of M/Bond's "secret weapon" - an exotic agent known as The Detainer (Daliah Lavi), he is unable to resist entering into a romantic liaison with the smitten Miss Moneypenny.

Meanwhile, Bond reconciles with his long-estranged daughter Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet) - also the lookalike daughter of Mata Hari - who spends her time smoking from hookahs, going to analysts, and giving poor dance recitals. (As noted earlier, the First World War must have happened more recently in the Casino Royale universe as Mata Bond is only in her mid-20s.) Recruited into MI6, Mata is sent to East Berlin to infiltrate a school for nannies which is actually a front for a spy school (the same one Mata Hari attended). Mata encounters her mother's teachers and a plan to sell compromising photographs of military leaders from the United States, China and Great Britain at an "art auction" which she disrupts. The plans are being sold by a man named Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) in order to make money to pay back SMERSH after he squandered the organization's money at the gambling tables.

Chapter 4: In the only section of the film remotely connected to the novel (and one that overlaps the preceding "chapter"), Sir James convinces millionaire spy Vesper Lynd (Bond film veteran Ursula Andress) to recruit baccarat expert Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) into taking part in a mission to undermine the finances of Le Chiffe, who is now trying to win back the money owing to SMERSH at the Casino Royale. After a brief fling with Vesper, a whirlwind indoctrination into the ways of spying thanks to Q, and a detour via the provocative Miss Goodthighs (Jacqueline Bisset), Tremble/Bond finally sits down face to face with Le Chiffre, who would rather do magic tricks than play cards. Despite Le Chiffe using trick sunglasses to cheat, Tremble ultimately defeats the villain at the game, but he is soon kidnapped and tortured by Le Chiffre, and is eventually killed by Vesper, who tells Tremble, "Never trust a rich spy". Le Chiffre, meanwhile, turns out to actually be an agent of Dr. Noah and is killed in suitably bizarre fashion.

Chapter 5: After Mata Bond is kidnapped from the heart of London by a giant UFO, Sir James and the rest of the surviving James Bond 007s head to Casino Royale to rescue her and discover that the casino is located atop a giant underground base run by Dr. Noah, who turns out to be Sir James' weak-kneed nephew, MI6 Agent Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen), last seen escaping a firing squad in Central America earlier in the film. Jimmy's nefarious plan is to kill all men over 4 foot 6 inches tall, leaving the diminuative villain the big man who gets all the girls. Meanwhile, as a huge brawl breaks out in the casino involving secret agents, French police, stereotypical movie cowboys and Indians, George Raft, William Holden, and a seal with the name tag "James Bond 007", "The Detainer" tricks Jimmy into swallowing a miniature nuclear bomb, leading to an explosive finale. As the film ends, the various Bonds are seen playing harps in Heaven, including Jimmy Bond -- a fact quickly rectified as the angel of Evelyn Tremble sends Jimmy "to a place that's incredibly hot."

This version of Casino Royale is notable as the only legally authorized (albeit unofficial) Bond story in any venue in which the main character is killed off.

Cast and characters

  • The film is notable for the behind-the-scenes drama involving the filming of the Peter Sellers segments. Sellers and Orson Welles disliked each other and, except for a couple of shots, were never in the studio simultaneously. Welles also insisted on performing magic tricks as Le Chiffre, and the director obliged. Sellers ultimately walked off the film before he completed all his scenes, which is why Tremble is so abruptly captured.
  • The single most successful element of the film was the song "The Look of Love", performed by Dusty Springfield and heard during the Peter Sellers segment. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, it has become a standard for its era. It was heard again in the first Austin Powers film, which was to a degree inspired by Casino Royale.
  • Jean Paul Belmondo and George Raft received major billing, even though both actors are only on screen for about 10 seconds each. Both appear during the climactic brawl at the end, Raft flipping his trademark coin and promptly getting shot, while Belmondo appears wearing a fake moustache as the French Foreign Legion officer who requires an English phrase book to say "ooch!" when he punches people.
  • Casino Royale also takes credit for the greatest number of actors in a Bond movie either to have appeared or to go on to appear in the rest of the 'official' series. Besides Ursula Andress, Vladek Sheybal appeared as 'Kronsteen' in From Russia With Love, Angela Scoular appeared as 'Ruby Bartlett' in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Burt Kwouk featured as a SPECTRE operative in You Only Live Twice, Jeanne Roland appeared in the same film as a Masseuse. Finally Caroline Munro, who was an extra, took a much larger role as 'Naomi' in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Maybe a weaker willed soul would blame Woody for his passion for seeing Asian females as desirable but as I already blame Walt Disney's Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N for Nancy Kwan - the first Asian woman I was ever smitten with - I can't. So I'm letting Woody off the hook for that one ... Sparks


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