Jun 30, 2004
Casino Royale (1967) (part 9 of 13)
A jet touches down on the runway in Paris, while we hear the infernal strains of the goddamned Casino “Don’t We Have Any Other Pieces of Incidental Music? No? You Sure?” Royale Theme. At the terminal, a customs agent welcomes Peter Sellers to France. So Sellers swings ’round and punches him [??], sending him flying through the glass wall of his booth. I’m not so sure that was in the script, and not one of the many examples of Sellers’ reportedly difficult behavior during the shoot. Of course, we’ll never get any idea of what set him off just now. Perhaps he thinks the customs agent is responsible for the music.
There’s another awkward cut to Sellers getting in a car with Inspector Mathis. You know, Mathis? The man who met him in the pre-credits teaser? The guy who showed Sellers his crotch credentials? It seems like so long ago.
But apparently, this scene is the source of that teaser. It looks like they simply cut out the part where the two men meet, and moved it to the beginning of the film. Honestly, they could have included it again here and nobody would have been the wiser. (Actually, they might have been a little bit wiser, because as it is, Mathis just appears out of nowhere.)
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Mathis warns Sellers to be careful, and not to get involved, because many people loathe him and wish him harm. And as you might expect, none of what he’s saying makes a damn bit of sense. Suddenly, a girl in a leather outfit and a visor appears next to Sellers’ window, like a Robert Palmer backup singer with aspirations of becoming a welder. And absolutely nobody in the scene reacts to her [?].
Then, just as suddenly, the car is coming out of a car wash [?], and passing through the big spinning brushes. So that makes it official: The editor of this film was completely and utterly loaded off his ass.
As they come out the car wash, a flock of more Robert Palmer backup dancers, the presence of which will never be explained, spray and wipe down the car. Soon, they’re kissing the windows and fondling the hood. Not since Gigli has a movie bore so many scars of multiple reshoots, rewrites, and editing hack jobs.
Back in London, Niven-Bond expresses dismay at Sellers lashing out at the customs official. He then has a conversation with Moneypenny that seems deliberately written around the need to use whatever Peter Sellers outtakes the filmmakers could find lying around. Niven says he has to get in touch with Vesper Lynd, but Moneypenny reminds him that Vesper, too, is now going by “James Bond 007”.
To get in touch with Vesper, Niven of course uses the old video watch. Vesper-Bond gets the call just as she’s about to step into a bubble bath (isn’t that always the way?). So she clasps her hands modestly over the face of her own video watch.
Niven-Bond asks why he’s lost visual contact, and she says she was just about to take a bath. Niven expresses concerns that Sellers-Bond could be a double agent, but Vesper sighs and says he’s not even good at being a “single” agent. She assures him everything is still going according to plan. She then removes her hand, only to see Niven trying to sneak a peek at her goodies. Nice one, James. He must be really desperate if he’s actually peeping a girl of legal age.
We abruptly whip back to Paris, and Sellers-Bond’s hotel room. He’s closing the balcony window when our next Repeat Offender, in the form of a drop dead gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset—billed here as “Jacky Bisset”—walks in from the bathroom. He pivots around and reflexively shoots at her, but thankfully misses. And I imagine the reason he’s got his gun in his hand in the first place is somewhere on the cutting room floor.
She smiles, clad only in a men’s pajama top and holding a bottle of champagne and a glass. She coolly notes that he missed. She tells him she’s Miss Goodthighs, and tries to pour a glass with the unopened bottle. Sellers flirts and says, “You’ve got your cork still stuck in your bottle.” He then has her hold her arm out so that he can shoot the cork off. He fires, and suddenly foam is spurting everywhere. Ah, exploding champagne bottles as a euphemism for ejaculation, that never gets old.
She saunters to the bed, putting the bottle on the nightstand, and telling him that the champagne is the compliments of the hotel. Lest you’re assuming the hotel also provides their guests with complimentary high-priced call girls, their dialogue explains how she bribed the porter to let her into Bond’s room. He asks how much she tipped him, and she teases that she just showed him a little kindness.
She rolls on the bed, giving him bedroom eyes and acting considerably more mature and sexy than her age would suggest. Bisset is dubbed, which is a pity, because I think her French accent could only have added to this scene. Another close up of those eyes and cheekbones, and oh my, I think I’ve just become bi-curious. How about that?
Sellers embraces her, and they begin to make out. He asks what he could do for her. She asks what she could do for him. She secretly drops a rather large fizzing pill in his champagne glass, and moments later, he secretly drops a similar pink one into the same glass. He asks her to move a bit, as she’s lying on his “…loose change”.
Abruptly, Sellers is standing up and Bisset is looking up at him. She sighs, “I need you.” I will forgive this movie everything if the rest of it is just various close-ups of her. He finishes the glass of champagne and immediately feels the effect of the pill. He starts wavering, and mutters, “My goodness, this is strong shampoo!”
He says he needs to pop into the bathroom for a moment to freshen up. He exits, and we get a close-up of Bisset hearing him land on the floor with a thud. She nibbles on her fingers irresistibility. And that, sadly, is the last we see of her.
Sellers begins to dream in the bathroom. Smoke and falling playing cards are superimposed over him, while someone sings an asinine song about the Casino Royale, which luckily, has been captured for posterity in this MP3 clip.
In his dream, we see various clips of Vesper and him making out. Apparently, Peter Sellers dreams in outtakes. Look, guys, this movie is over two hours long—you really don’t need to pad. It becomes a bit more tolerable as the music switches to an instrumental of “The Look of Love”, which I still like, despite the film’s best efforts to beat it into the ground.
As the song plays, we get more footage of Sellers and Vesper making out, including a short bit where he plays her leg like a piano, and Vesper holds the sheet music. Sellers winks into the camera. Apparently, this was something Sellers improvised on the spot, which was never intended to be used in the finished film. That is, until Sellers quit and/or was fired, after which they had to scavenge for enough Sellers leftovers to make it look like he had a substantial role in this thing. Then there’s footage of Sellers making out with Bisset, and, now, really. Come on, guys. That happened like, twenty seconds ago.
Sellers is awakened by Vesper shaking him and calling his name. She’s disgusted at him for letting himself get drugged and taken. He complains that the antidote pill he put in (the bright pink one, as you’ll recall) was supposed to give him protection for 24 hours. Why it didn’t work, well, jot that down on your list of stuff that you’ll have to explain for yourself. She gets him to his feet and herds him toward the shower, saying they only have a few hours until he plays Le Chiffre.
He asks what happened to Goodthighs, and she ominously says not to worry, because she “took care of her”. Off-camera, of course, and never to be mentioned again, like far too many things in this staffed-by-schizophrenics funhouse of a picture. He gets in the shower and tells her he’s not afraid of Le Chiffre. He says that when he walks into that casino, he’s going “to look him straight in the eye and say—” And then Vesper cranks up the water full-blast in exasperation, causing Sellers to scream, “—Yeowwwww!”
And I bid my final goodbye, as we head for the Casino Royale itself.