Tuesday, March 27, 2012

You Only Live Twice [1967]

About two months after the release of the spoof Casino Royale -- and about a year and a half after the titanic success of the previous film in the series, Thunderball -- the fifth 007 adventure starring Sean Connery hit movie screens around the world.

In some ways, the Bond phenomenon had peaked with Thunderball; that film's sheer size and scope were so large, and its reception so massive, that to do anything other than try to top it must have seemed like lunacy.

As a result, the Bond producers did virtually everything they could think of to make sure that topping Thunderball was exactly what happened.

Did it work?

In my opinion, it definitely did NOT work.  A lot of Bond fans hold this film near and dear, but I am not one of them; for me, this is the point at which the series began its slide into mediocrity.

That's not to say there isn't plenty here to enjoy, though, so let's take a trip to the Far East and see how the Double-0 Rating System stands the journey.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Casino Royale [1967]

By 1967, Bondmania had reached -- and, perhaps, gone past -- its peak.  Thunderball had been a massive success, and in an attempt to grab some of that cash that was evidently lying around at the bottom of Bond fans' pockets, Columbia decide to launch a second series of Bond films.  They owned the film rights to the original Ian Fleming novel, Casino Royale, and put an adaptation of it into production.

Somehow, it all ended up as a bizarre comedy somewhat in the style of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

For obvious reasons, this version of Casino Royale is not considered to be part of the actual James Bond series, but many Bond purists object to the notion of it being considered a James Bond film in ANY way.  My view of that is simple: it was an adaptation of the Ian Fleming novel, produced by people who had EVERY legal right to do so.  It IS a James Bond film; how the film turned out, tonally and in terms of its content, is irrelevant to that fact.  And after all, it is arguably a stricter adaptation of its source material than is, say, The Spy Who Loved Me, and you don't see anyone trying to claim that that film shouldn't be counted as a Bond movie.

So, for the purposes of this blog, yes, the '67 Casino Royale counts.

But what does it count for?

Read on and find out.