. . . is the basic theme of THE MAKING OF CASINO ROYALE (1967), a series of five documentary shorts released in 2008. Segment one, entitled BOND . . . JAMES BOND?, is both the longest (at 13 minutes, 41 seconds) and best of the quintet, so I rated this at 8 of 10. (However, since each of the final four parts merited 7 of 10, a logical overall rating is "7" for the bunch.) In Part One, surviving cast and crew members recount how the "manic depressive" Sellers was experiencing a marital break up (as was another of the eight "James Bonds" in this misbegotten film, David Niven, according to a later segment), got into a fist fight with the original director, Joseph McGrath, and managed to entice producer Charles Kaufman into firing BOTH McGrath and a second director before Sellers HIMSELF was pink-slipped (accounting for his absence from the "big finale" scene). The sometimes Pink Panther also thoroughly antagonized co-star Orson Welles, who already was completely wasted due to his walrus-like physique and the arc lighting insisted upon by a slow-as-molasses D.P.
Part Two of THE MAKING OF CASINO ROYALE (1967), titled A THREE RING CIRCUS, is the briefest, running just 12 seconds more than 5 minutes. It's sort of "inside baseball," as the talking heads note that only director Val Guest composed wide shots--the other four more mercenary blokes (such as John Huston) merely did close-ups before they took the money and ran. An interesting quote attributed to the late Orson Welles, who played "Le Chiffre," on Peter Sellers (one of the many James Bonds) was, "I'm NOT going to do any more scenes with that f@#king amateur."
Episode Three, named MORE DIRECTORS . . . MORE STARS! (referring to the publicists' attempts to make lemonade from the "lemons" of four different, uncoordinated scripts, five directors, and eight actors credited as "James Bonds," including three women--a result of chaos on the set, multiple firings, and NOT according to any plan whatsoever) continues for just 10 seconds under nine minutes. Joanna Pettet said that CASINO ROYALE was her follow-up to NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, a thriller which I rated at 10. Ms. Pettet says that Shirley MacLaine was offered $1 million plus a percentage to play the role of "Mata Bond" (Agent 007 and WWI spy Mata Hari's love child, born no later than 1916, making the part ripe for a 51-year-old actress!) in which Ms. Pettet ended up. She adds that most of her scenes were filmed without a script.
The fourth chapter of THE MAKING OF CASINO ROYALE, called "THE BIG CLIMAX," clocks in at 7 1/2 minutes. The talking heads tell how the crew roped any actors who happened to be in the filming vicinity into doing nonsensical cameo appearances here, such as George Raft flipping a coin in the background. One of the technical people says that "the bubble thing" special effects made no sense, either, often obscuring the very expensive action being staged, such as the horse stunts inside an alleged casino. Plus, staging the five seconds of Apaches jumping out of a plane shouting "Geronimo!" cost MORE than most direct-to-video films released today (and took three times as long to shoot!).
Section Five of this quintet, IT'S A WRAP!, concludes this "Making of" in 6 minutes, 18.34 seconds. The talking heads concur that CASINO ROYALE (1967) was a domestic financial success in America (if a dud overseas, and an artistic flop everywhere). When a temporarily sane Peter Sellers invited director Joe McGrath to lunch in London the following year to apologize for all the fisticuffs, another movie bigwig happened past their table and mistook Sellers for Woody Allen, telling him that he was appalled how "that Sellers bloke ruined your movie, Woody." Which just goes to prove that all nerds look alike.
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