Casino Royale (1967) Movie Poster Image

Casino Royale (1967)

(i)

 

Silly 007 spoof tamer than Austin Powers.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1967
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The "original" James Bond (David Niven) is a stalwart, upright English gentleman of the aristocracy (even if he has an illegitimate daughter by his lost love), while most of the other characters are slippery, treacherous spies. Of course, everybody's a comical one-note stereotype (especially the Scots!) rather than real people. Gambling is portrayed as a heroic endeavor.

Violence

Slapstick brawling, falling, punching, and martial arts (including one sequence in which seductive women are rebuffed by judo-flips). Much gunfire, but rarely any blood. One character is visibly shot in the head, and another is in a phone booth that explodes. Birds are hunted with rifles. Explosions, bows and arrows, and military artillary.

Sex

Much non-clinical sexual innuendo and beautiful, scantily-clad girls. One actress is entirely nude and covered just by strategic metal restraints on a table. A few others are fleetingly glimpsed covered in gold body paint. A man and a teenage girl take a bubble bath together. Mostly the sex is all talk ("Doodle me!" a Scottish vixen says), with hallucinatory montages of female faces in ecstasy as the only action. A young woman reassures her own father than she's not a virgin.

Language

Some use of "damn." Jean-Paul Belmondo repeatedly utters a French swear word (inaccurately translated as "ouch").

Consumerism

Fancy motorcars on display, with the Lotus Formula Three getting a real salute. The James Bond franchise, at the time this movie was made, was already a commercial industry, with novels, toys, clothes ... even 007 deodorant. You can imagine what it's been like since.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, with a whole household rendered unconscious from (drugged?) whiskey. One character has a "trip" after his cocktail is drugged. Another character is called a junkie. The villainous LeChiffre puffs a cigar.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is not the serious 2006 version of Casino Royale, but rather a wild, pull-out-the-stops comical put-on of the 007 films, done in 1960s "psychedelic" style. It's really a lot like the later Austin Powers spoofs, right down to the disjointed and nonsensical plotting. And, like Austin Powers, this makes much of the erotic content of the James Bond adventures, with luscious women as sex objects. Overall, though, it's at the milder end of the smut and vulgarity scale than Mike Myers' movies, and parents won't be squirming so much through it -- unless they're bored. Still, some parents might also object to the romanticization of high-stakes gambling as a way to defeat the bad guys.

Kids say

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What's the story?

In this 1967 James Bond spoof, major world military leaders ask retired superspy Sir James Bond (David Niven) to stop a diabolical organization called SMERSH. Sir James now runs a spy business which includes his wimpy nephew "Jimmy" Bond (Woody Allen). (It's mentioned in the film that Sir James is not the "real" James Bond). After escaping SMERSH's assassination attempts, Sir James decides to confuse the enemy by recruiting and training more "James Bonds," including bespectacled card expert Evelyn Trimble (Peter Sellers), who is enticed by sexy superspy Vesper Lynde (Ursula Andress) to win a high-stakes gambling match against SMERSH underboss Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) in the lavish Casino Royale. Eventually the plot goes to pieces, with cowboys and Indians, armed squads of lovely girls, performing animals, Frankenstein, a flying saucer, and other outrageousness.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

CASINO ROYALE was so overstuffed with gags, sets, international stars, and mainstream-movie excess that it become something of a legendary folly. Five directors were hired for this very loose take on Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel. The original Casino Royale plan called for each director to cover a narrative thread, then pass the script along to the next in line. Top-billed Peter Sellers feuded with Orson Welles and quit the film, which meant rewrites, body doubles, and reshoots.

Unless you like your Bonds completely straight-faced -- the film is funny, in its overindulgent, zany way. Casino Royale remains a goofball outcast among the Bond movies. Kids, especially the fans of Austin Powers and Mini-Me, should enjoy the playful tone, though there are several moments that may bore them -- like some long-winded dialogue and seduction scenes set to sleepy Burt Bacharach music.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the strange story behind this film and the many, many star actors, visual references, and celebrity gag cameos that most kids won't know -- like Jean-Claude Belmondo, George Raft, and the Berlin Wall -- that had instant audience recognition at the time. Their very appearance was meant to get a laugh. Tell kids that when they're grownups, young audiences might fail to comprehend jokes about Britney Spears or Saddam Hussein from today's comedies. Parents might also use Casino Royale to point out the difference between short-lived, topical humor and the more universal comedy of Charlie Chaplin or even Charlie Brown, that still holds up decades later.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 19, 1967
DVD/Streaming release date:October 14, 2002
Cast:David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress
Directors:John Huston, Ken Hughes, Val Guest
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Comedy
Run time:131 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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