HTF REVIEW: "CaSiNo RoYaLe" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 14, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Real Name:
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    [​IMG]

    CaSiNo RoYaLe




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1967
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 137 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English, Spanish & Portugese



    The first time I saw Casino Royale was
    at the age of 14. The year was 1977, and during
    a special grade school assembly, we were treated
    to a 16mm presentation of the film. Presented to
    us as a James Bond parody, I remember that the film
    was very slow, difficult to follow, and not very
    funny. However, what I loved about the film was
    how absolutely insane all of the psychedelic sets
    and designs looked, topped off with a rather funny
    performance by Woody Allen and a wild 12-minute
    finale that has to be seen to believed!
    25 years later, I still enjoy Casino Royale
    for all the wrong reasons.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The true, one and only original James Bond (David
    Niven) has gone into retirement, and Her Majesty's
    Secret Service needs him to come back and deal with
    SMERSH's arch-villain Le Chiffre, a Frenchman working
    for the KGB. Bond is brought in, and he is given
    command of MI6, selecting 6 other agents (Peter
    Sellers, Ursula Andress, others) to work with him,
    including his nephew "Jimmy Bond" (Woody Allen).
    Soon Bond fears that SMERSH may be on to them. He
    issues an order that, to confuse the enemy, all
    active agents will be renamed "James Bond- 007".
    While it sounds dumb, it prevents the bad guys
    from being able sort one 007 from the other. The
    film continues to unravel rather slowly, building
    up into a hilarious climax inside the Casino Royale,
    complete with cowboys and Indians!
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Based upon Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel,
    and produced completely by other people than the
    rest of the 007 franchise, it's easy to see how
    this film became such a sloppy mess. No less than
    five directors were brought on board to direct
    individual sequences that featured one of the main
    characters. In the end, it seems that all these
    sequences had to somehow be brought together in
    a manner that only makes you shake your head and
    wonder "Why?!".
    On a visual level, this is film is complete eye
    candy. The film's clever title sequence played
    over Herb Alpert's recognizable trumpet is worth
    playing more than once. The soundtrack by Burt
    Bacharach is incredible, and easily among his best.
    The Look of Love is still regarded as a
    classic.
    How is the transfer?
    I have seen Casino Royale on many formats
    over the years, and while not perfect, this is the
    best it has ever looked. What stands out here is
    a very clean print that is only occasionally marred
    by film dirt and blemish. Filmed in Technicolor,
    you would only expect that colors look fabulous here.
    A bedroom scene early on in the film shows deep lush
    red draperies that look amazing. Images are sharp
    and well detailed with solid black levels. What is
    most surprising here is the absence of any film
    grain, giving this picture a smoothness not seen
    previously on any format.
    The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is also a surprise here.
    They actually managed to keep the dialogue firmly
    in the center channel with no bleeds to the front.
    Sound is extremely strong and clear, with distinct
    stereo channel separation. There's a surprising
    amount of LFE channel support to the many explosions
    that happen in the film. The rears are the only
    disappointment here. They rarely add anything to
    the overall mix except in a few short scenes where
    it seems effects were just randomly thrown in the
    channel. But you know what? I was pleasantly
    satisfied with how well the mix sounded for a film
    of this time period.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    MGM has attempted to pour a little life into
    this DVD by adding an interesting assortment of
    supplementals.
    [​IMG]
    In 1954, the television series Climax
    performed a live rendition based on Ian Flemming's
    book, Casino Royale. It starred Barry
    Nelson as James Bond, and co-starred Peter Lorre
    and Linda Christian. MGM is presenting this
    Kinescope preservation for the first time on DVD.
    To be honest, this 51-minute presentation was just
    a little too difficult to watch, except for the
    fact that I just love watching Peter Lorre.
    (length: approx. 51 minutes)
    Psychedelic Cinema introduces us to the
    film's uncredited Director, Val Guest, who gives
    us a rather detailed background as to how Casino
    Royale went from book to a project that Ian
    Flemming had presented to David Niven. The idea
    was originally presented for use on Niven's popular
    Four Star Theater series, but was immediately
    rejected. It wasn't until years later when the
    idea changed into a comedic sendup of the James Bond
    series that Niven jumped on board. The film quickly
    became a huge production with a massive amount of
    sets that spanned across many studios. One thing
    I never knew about this film was that Sellers is
    noticeably absent from the ending of this film.
    Sellers became ill during production and his doctors
    advised a 2-week rest for the actor. Producer
    Charles Feldman was outraged, and terminated Seller's
    contract. This caused a major re-edit in the film
    and an interesting fix to the film's heavenly finale.
    (length: approx. 20 minutes)
    Also included in this DVD package is the film's
    cleverly upbeat original theatrical trailer.
    Final Thoughts
    [​IMG]
    Casino Royale a no-holds-barred parody of
    the spy movie genre - 30 years in advance of Austin
    Powers. Since it's a little tough to get through,
    I recommend first-timers rent it first. Those
    of us who grew up with the film, however, may also
    find it hard to resist a purchase. Perhaps there
    are many more of us that enjoy the film for all
    the wrong reasons.
    Release Date: October 15, 2002
     
  2. Neil White

    Neil White Supporting Actor

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    It's on order. Can't wait for this one. I'm a sucker for this genre of movie and the soundtrack is great on this one. Thanks for the review Ron.

    N
     
  3. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    And so another MGM laserdisc is retired... thanks for the review, Ron.
     
  4. Beau

    Beau Supporting Actor

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    I'm only going to buy this because I'm a hard-core James Bond fan. I havent seen this or the '54 version. I'm not sure if I'll like it at all, because from what I heard many times, it is very unfunny and stuipid. But I'll see tomorrow.
     
  5. Paul Bond

    Paul Bond Stunt Coordinator

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    For all the wrong reasons? Well, perhaps. But the most important thing is either you like it or you don't.

    Casino Royale is definitely a "like it" for me. As I get older the jumpiness (for lack of a better word) of the plot gets more and more obvious, but, like an old friend, I like it even more for its flaws.

    I find the score to be the highlight of the movie as cute melodies intermix with 'musical jokes' (be sure to listen at the lions scene) (not really a spoiler, this is not a surprise).

    Suspend all sense of reality, give Connery, Moore, et al a break, and turn your humor knob up all the way and enjoy.

    Paul
     
  6. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the review. This release will complete my James Bond DVD collection! [​IMG]
     
  7. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Thanks for the review, Ron. I've never seen it either, but for the price (about $12 or so), it's a no-brainer to complete my Bond collection (and also to add to my Woody Allen collection).
    However, I just gotta comment on this:
     
  8. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Actually, I first saw this film much the same way Ron did. It was in 10th grade for me, though, IIRC.

    I'm looking forward to completing my 007 collection with this title. I'm waiting for 10/20, though, to pick it up at a major national chain who will have it on sale for $12.99. Its for the best, after all.
     
  9. John Kilduff

    John Kilduff Screenwriter

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    Does the movie retain the Columbia Pictures logo, being as Columbia originally produced "Casino Royale"?

    Sincerely,

    John Kilduff...

    At least I remember the Columbia logo from the time I saw this on Encore a few years back.
     
  10. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I guess I am an old fart here. I remember seeing this movie when it was originally released in the theaters. I was a Senior in high school. I enjoyed the movie, but was thoroughly panned by the more traditional James Bond fans.

    In the 1954 TV version, I have heard that the credits are not shown with this. Apparently Peter Lorre is seen getting up when he shouldn't have at the end of the show.
     
  11. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    I vaguely remember seeing this with my father when I was a little. I slept through most of it so I can only recall bits & pieces, specifically the score and the ending...as well as which "Bond" was the "bad Bond". [​IMG]
    Of course, I was too young to understand a "parody" so the whole thing was confusing to me.
    So...I'll be picking this one up for mainly nostalgic reasons.
     
  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Definitely worth a watch. Thanks for another great review Ron!
     
  13. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Agent

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    The 1954 show is also being released by Spy Guise, Inc. on a special edition DVD. There will be a "commentary interview" with Barry Nelson included. You can check it out here. Price will be $24.95 available exclusively through their website.
    - Jeff
     
  14. HowieG

    HowieG Extra

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    Alas, this "new" MGM release of Casino Royale is "sans" the Columbia Pictures logo (with all the controversy this picture has gone thru (over the years) I'm surprised that MGM even put their logo on it).

    This crazy film meant so much to me in the sixties, what an incredible music score Burt Bacharach did for this. Some get what it's all about and like it, most don't, but who cares? I'm just glad it has finally emerged on DVD in region 1... :b
     
  15. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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    I think the importance of the 1954 live TV broadcast is being seriously understated here. It's what makes the DVD a sure purchase. Even with the teleplay's portrayal of Bond as an American CIA agent, instead of a British secret agent, the TV episode remains a faithful adaptation (done live!) that preserves the spirit of Ian Fleming's original novel, which the film clearly doesn't do. MGM should be commended for including such a worthwhile and complementary supplement. It's ashame that it's being met with disinterest.
     
  16. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  17. Steve_Ch

    Steve_Ch Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Ron, the good transfer and audio (NOT talking 5th Element here) seal the deal for me. Good advise for those that are "uninitiated" to rent it first[​IMG] .
    Marty, I am old fart two (too), as I saw the original release when I was in high school.
    Some have said this is the "definitive" 60s movie, I tend to agree.
     
  18. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  19. Frederic_A

    Frederic_A Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I'm in my twenties, so I wouldn't consider myself an old fart, [​IMG] but I've always liked this movie for its hip 60s feel. Even though I knew the soundtrack before the movie, the last time I saw it only confirmed how much I like it. The fact that it doesn't make sense gives it kind of an absurd charm, not unlike the humour you would find in Monty Python. Of course, I had this preordered long ago, since the version available in Europe isn't anamorphic. I'm pleased to read that MGM seems to have taken this release seriously!
    Just one thing, though: On the one hand, I have to congratulate MGM on serving up a passable DVD cover for once - the previous one was just atrocious! On the other, I can't really understand why films like these aren't presented with the original artwork. I would argue this even for mainstream releases like the other Bond films, but in this case, it should be clear that they are addressing a niche market. Granted, the intention was probably to visually associate it with the Austin Powers movies. But I also can't help but detect a hint of puritanism in the fact that the girl is only shown in silhouette... it will be interesting to see the European version of the cover (if it ever gets released, that is!).
     
  20. Neil White

    Neil White Supporting Actor

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