It seems like blasphemy to put the 007 logo and gunbarrel on top of this one, but I do try to keep a theme to my project blog posts.
I said I’d wait until the weekend, but I decided it’d be kinder to just rip the bandage off so the healing can begin straight away. I watched it yesterday during dinner, today during lunch break, and finished it off today during dinner. Three sittings. Not too bad, considering it’s said that most Bond fans, if they know about it at all, make it through in 10-minute increments.
After 1965’s Thunderball, the spy craze was in full swing. Spoofs were going to happen. Mel Brooks proved it would work with television’s Get Smart. Last time, I reviewed “the” James Bond spoof, 1967’s Casino Royale. What makes it “the” spoof is because the people involved actually had the legitimate rights to do it. Nearly every character in it was called James Bond. By contrast, there’s… this movie. This movie had a cast catalog of James Bond alumni, but no James Bond.
Filmed in Italy and released a mere eight days before Casino Royale, Operation Kid Brother was also known as Operation Double 007 and O.K. Connery. It was not official in any capacity.
I would hesitate to call this a spoof. Anything resembling “funny” is absolutely unintentional, a direct result of total ineptitude on the parts of the writer and director. It feels like some poor schmuck had delusions of grandeur after watching one of Connery’s 007 flicks and thought, “Hey, I can do that!” There are very few moments in this that feel like a spoof. There are a couple such moments where it teeters on the same kind of greatness that Ed Wood found during his career, but it fails to commit, and it has a mere fraction of the passion or conviction. It comes across with just enough life in it for the coroner to find a pulse. I can’t help but imagine the writer spending the rest of his days submitting rejected scripts for Scooby-Doo cartoons. How bad is it? Mystery Science Theater 3000 took a swipe at it back in 1993. Rest assured that every negative review it got back in the day was well-earned.
Before we talk about what the movie is, let me run down some of the familiar faces. This is quite possibly the most stunning part of this movie, the sheer number of people that said yes to it for the wrong reasons. Perhaps none of them heard Casino Royale was being filmed? Seriously, check this out:
Adolfo Celi (Emile Largo, Thunderball)
Daniela Bianchi (Tatiana Romanova, From Russia With Love)
Anthony Dawson (Professor Dent, Dr. No)
Bernard Lee (M, from Dr. No to Moonraker)
Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny from Dr. No to A View to a Kill)
Why did these people say yes? I won’t hold it against them. They made this movie tolerable, and almost good in places! And when it wasn’t almost good, at least Daniela kept me appropriately distracted. Even when she’s wearing something like this.
I went into this with the understanding that this film is incredibly difficult to find (because it’s been buried on purpose!), it was free for me to watch on Amazon Prime, and as a Bond fan it’s very difficult not to support those names I listed. And it’s very hard to turn my attention away from Daniela Bianchi. Worse still, I figured that since I’ve seen Plan 9 From Outer Space, Manos: The Hands of Fate, and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that I could do this. I’ve even suffered through Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. This should be a potential cakewalk by comparison, that was my thinking. I should have listened to my inner fears. It’s not “so bad it’s good.” As Huey Lewis once crooned, “Sometimes bad is bad.”
I guess I should also mention the actual *ahem* star of the film. His name is Connery. Neil Connery. As in real-life brother of Sean Connery. Anyone who ever says that George Lazenby’s acting was wooden in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service needs to watch this. Whoever says the acting in the Star Wars prequels is horrible needs to watch this.
And just for grins, all of it is made worse by overdubbing. That’s right, every single actor in this is overdubbed. I get it for the early James Bond films. They’d overdub someone for British and American audiences who might have a really thick accent. This is everything. Everyone, every single shot. It feels like watching a bad Godzilla movie, made worse by the fact that you can see they’re dubbing the same language, just not timed correctly.
Need more? Let’s talk plot.
There’s not one.
Just kidding. There actually is one, and it’s so over the top in its ability to completely underwhelm. Or maybe I was just whelmed. It’s hard to tell.
Neil Connery plays Dr. Neil Connery (original, right?), a cosmetic surgeon who is compelled against his will and better judgment to operate as a spy while other agents (including his big brother) are away on other assignments. Lucky for Dr. Connery that he’s an expert martial artist, a skilled lip reader, and a master hypnotist. You know, because all plastic surgeons need skills like that.
His assignment: to thwart the master plan of the terrorist organization known as THANATOS. THANATOS’s master, Alpha, has acquired an atomic nucleus for use in their new superweapon: a powerful magnet capable of completely killing all electrical and mechanical devices, essentially driving the world back to the level of bows and arrows.
It’s a good thing everyone in this movie knows how to use bows and arrows, because they DO in the finale. I can’t make this up.
Actually I could make that up, but when I do, I make up something far better. With that in mind, if you want to know details of the plot, you can look it up or suffer through the movie yourself. It’s too cruel to pretend there was anything cohesive enough to write about. There’s something about some blind people who work in a rug factory, making radioactive rugs? Yeah…
There is one point worth mentioning. The music was scored by spaghetti western maestro extraordinaire Ennio Morricone. It’s a cross between the Bond music you already know, crossbred with a touch of Henry Mancini. Pay no attention to that dreadfully kitchy “O.K. Connery” title track, if you can possibly claw it from your head.
But Daniela Bianchi’s still adorable! See?
Hey, I take the win where I can get it. It’s all I got left after this one. Don’t judge me.
Ye gods, I need a drink now.