The 60s must’ve been exhausting. Or maybe it’s just watching the 60s filmed in the 60s that’s so wearisome. Three instalments in on my Woody reappraisal, and I’ve learned that in this decade, everything hangs on the acquisition of a mess of girls. The second thing I’ve learned is there was a serious preoccupation with Ursula Andress; man, woman or beast. A cameo appearance in What’s New Pussycat?, drawn by Peter O’Toole’s magnetism through the roof of his convertible, is followed by a reference by the Talking Head Woody Allen to “that Bond girl” in What’s Up, Tiger Lily? I also learned why she was on the brain of every beating heart, (and how she even was to pursue Mike Myers’ thoughts, decades later):
Casino Royale is bombastic and intensely colourful in every respect. Yet anarchy bridges into chaos all too often and the inconsistencies detract from moments where the laughs and visual indulgences are laid on thick. It comes as no surprise that the film’s production was beleaguered with jealousy between Orson Welles and Peter Sellers that saw Sellers leave the set before shooting had ended. At its best it is clever and camp: Woody Allen as Bond’s wastrel nephew Jimmy emerges as the villain who, with the aid of biological warfare, would annihilate all men over 4 feet 6 inches tall leaving him free to enchant women with his comparative great height. His evil plan, however, is foiled when he is tricked into taking one of his own pills and hiccups until he explodes.
Something about this slapstick parody certainly caught the attention of the Hollywood glitterati: a string of directors that included John Huston; uncredited writers that number Joseph Heller, Billy Wilder, Ben Hecht, Terry Southern, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen among them; and a sterling cast including David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Peter Sellers, William Holden, George Raft, Charles Boyer and Jacqueline Bisset. Even Anjelica Huston got her acting chops posing as Kerr’s hands. And I almost forgot about the Orson Welles taking a turn as a Le Chiffre dripping with blondes!
A film that can do this to Deborah Kerr:
deserves to be feared if nothing else.