Cinema Retro has asked author Michael Richardson to write an exclusive article for us regarding what influenced him to write his new book "The Making of Casino Royale".
BY MICHAEL RICHARDSON
The sixties James Bond spoof Casino
Royale was a psychedelic multi-storylined extravaganza of improvisation and the
constant rewriting of various screenplays, brought about after negotiations
between producer Charles K Feldman, Eon Productions, United Artists and
Columbia Pictures failed to bring about a co-production. Realising that he
would have to proceed without Bond actor Sean Connery, Feldman crammed his
picture with as many famous names as possible: Peter Sellers, Woody Allen,
David Niven, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles, Deborah Kerr, Daliah Lavi, Joanna
Pettet, Barbara Bouchet, William Holden and Jean Paul Belmondo to name but a
few. The cast also included several unbilled cameos such as: Peter O’Toole,
Caroline Munro, Dave Prowse, John Le Mesurier, Fiona Lewis and ex- Formula 1
racing driver Stirling Moss.
I had watched Charles K Feldman’s Casino Royale on
television many times before a friend of mine furthered my interest in the
production by pointing out the different plotlines and disjointed nature of the
screenplay. Over the years, I both researched and came across much more
information about the hap-hazard manner in which CasinoRoyale was produced,
which only wetted my appetite to learn as much as I possibly could about this
feature film that had somehow managed to get out of control. My fascination
with this craziest Bond film of all eventually brought about an exchange of
faxes with director Val Guest, who was living in California at the time. When
Guest made a flying visit to London for Christmas 2005, I telephoned him at his
London home in Belgravia just before the New Year and we discussed the
production in great detail.
Sometime later I was reading an interview with
Guest, where he was quoted as saying, ‘There’s a whole film to be made about
the making of Casino Royale!’ This made me think, though obviously making a
movie was beyond my abilities and resources, but writing a book that outlined
both the development and production of the film was certainly something I could
do. Doubling my efforts to obtain even more information regarding the film, I
read through every Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Orson Welles and David Niven
biography I could locate. However, this was just the beginning as I then began
consuming every book associated with anyone who had worked on the film
including actors: Dave Prowse, Ronnie Corbett, Peter O’Toole, Chic Murray and
Duncan Macrae, directors: Val Guest, John Huston and Robert Parrish, plus
writers: Wolf Mankowitz and Terry Southern. My quest for additional knowledge
involved the scouring of both British and American film industry publications
of the time, plus searches through many website features and on-line archives
and even obtaining the French published Ursula Andress biography, despite not
being able to read or speak the language.
The Making of Casino Royale (1967)
explores all aspects of production, including the origins of Ian Fleming’s
novel and subsequent screenplays, the casting choices, pre-production, filming
at three British film studios, location filming in England, Ireland, Scotland
and France, plus publicity and merchandising. This gives an overall picture of
how this strange psychedelic pop art movie was assembled from several different
storylines that involved no fewer than seven directors (including two second
unit directors), working from a screenplay credited to three writers, although
known to have input from at least nine other people including Peter Sellers and
Woody Allen. Eventually, I amassed enough information to
assemble a production schedule with dates for the picture, which indicates in
which order the various segments were filmed, who was directing and which major
cast members were present.
The story behind the making of this
film outlines how what was happening behind the scenes was just as bizarre as
anything happening in front of the cameras. The book also pieces together what
material was filmed and then discarded from the movie, by using reference
sources such as production stills, portions of scripts and anecdotes about the
making the film. Overall this outlines the story of a major blockbuster movie,
which got out of control to become one of the most complicated productions
filmed and the most bizarre James Bond film ever. Almost 50 years after being produced the elements that originally worked
against the sixties Casino Royale, such as the lack of a coherent storyline and
the sending up of James Bond, are now considered to work in its favour and have
assisted in making it a cult slice of sixties psychedelia.
to whet your appetite I can confirm that you will discover the answers to the
1 During development, which James Bond
actor was approached about playing the character for what would have been the
first time in June 1964?
2 During December 1965, which actress
well known for appearing in The Avengers television series was named in the
American press as being lined-up to appear in Casino Royale?
3 For his cameo role in the Scottish
Marching Band sequence, what did Peter O’Toole accept as payment?
4 Why did Sarah Miles turn down the
role of Meg, one of the McTarry daughters?
5 What did Shirley MacLaine do the
week before principal photography was due to commence that stopped production?
6 Why was Blake Edwards turned down as
a director for Casino Royale?
7 After suffering the bad experience
of having his screenplay constantly rewritten while making the film What’s New
Pussycat? why did Woody Allen agree to work with Charles K Feldman again on
8 What role was Dave Prowse originally
going to play in Peter Sellers’ nightmare?