By Philip Schweier
As bad as that was, it was only slightly more palatable than the 1967 James Bond spoof of the same name. According to some sources, it was originally intended to be filmed by the Bond producers Albert “Cubby” Brocolli and Harry Saltzman, but the recent partnership with Kevin McClorry on Thunderball (1965) had left a bad taste in their mouths, so Charles K. Feldman, who held the rights to Casino Royale, proceeded without them.
Rather than produce an entirely independent spy film as McClorry would later do with Never Say Never Again (1983), Feldman chose to play the story for laughs. Sure, let’s cast Peter Sellers and Woody Allen, and the laughs will just happen. Of course, in Hollywood that never works.
Starring as Bond is David Niven, brought out of retirement by the assassination of his former boss M (John Huston). Bond immediately takes over the old department, and realizing that James Bond 007 has a target on his chest, he immediately sets out to confuse the enemy – SMERSH – by designating all his agents as James Bond 007 just to confuse the enemy – including his nephew Jimmy (Allen).
Meanwhile, the real Bond sends his daughter Mata (Joanna Pettet) to infiltrate a SMERSH hive located in West Berlin. It’s trippy in a deChirico sort of way, and merely provides a diversion from the original story while introducing a kidnappable sidekick for later in the film.