“Why does Mr. Thai employ only blind men in his rug factory?”

That, and other stupid questions, may or may not be answered in jaunty shit-fest OPERATION DOUBLE 007, AKA OPERATION KID BROTHER, AKA OK CONNERY. I like the last title best, it makes the film sound like some kind of demented response to HELLO DOLLY! Or Hello, Kitty. Or possibly NOW, VOYAGER, I’m not sure.

A cheesy Italian Bond rip-off starring Sean Connery’s little brother Neil that nobody would ever expect to be any good, OK CONNERY defies expectations by being barely watchable, until a kind of punchiness afflicts the viewer, at which point the film becomes persistently hilarious, not as a spy spoof, but as a kind of incoherent cheese dream transcribed onto celluloid by faeces-wielding chimpanzees dressed as Toulouse-Lautrec. That’s how I chose to enjoy it, anyway.

Forgive me for neglecting to mention this previously, but I have a special lens that enables me to look into cartoon skunk Pepé lePew’s sexual fantasies.

Even as a mock-Bond, this… thing  ain’t too coherent as a narrative. Actually, any plot synopsis is likely to sound like a bit of William Burroughs fold-in literature, individual words picked at random from a hat by an eyeless madman wearing a bib. “Thanatos are trying to steal an atomic nucleus. Beta is using radioactive rugs to create high-frequency magnetism. Only plastic surgeon lip-reader prize archer and hypnotist Dr. Neil Connery can stop them.”

Thanatos — or maybe that should be T*H*A*N*A*T*O*S (Terrible Hokey Associated Nefarious Assholes Terrorising Our Society?) — is run by Adolfo Celi, formerly Largo from THUNDERBALL, one of several refugees from the proper James Bond films. We get indentured Moneypenny Lois Maxwell (glumly dutiful), professional scary-face Anthony Dawson from DR. NO (craggily weary), minor Bond girl Andrea Bianchi (predictably the same) and original “M” Bernard Lee (visibly drunk). Ursula Andress, incredibly, had better things to do.

It’s both remarkable and amusing that these actors (especially series regulars Maxwell and Lee) had so little loyalty to their paymasters at Eon Productions that they were happy to jump ship and make fools of themselves in this boisterous trash. My guess is that they simply weren’t getting paid enough to feel any gratitude to Bond boss Alberto “Cubby” Broccoli for bestowing immortality upon them. I seem to recall that Sean Connery himself, by the time of GOLDFINGER, his third Walther-toting outing in tux, was only getting five grand for the whole picture. Ludicrous.

Neil Connery, in a bold stretch, plays Dr. Neil Connery, who can not only hypnotise people just by putting his fingers together to form a sort of tent, but can also fire a sub-machine gun while disguised as Vincent Van Gogh, an unusual set of skills. Combine that with his archery, plastic surgery and lip-reading and you’d have to say he was a force to reckon with. A shame acting isn’t one of his super-powers.


We don’t expect any mere actor-brother — whether it’s Harrison’s older sibling Terence Ford (“Terence”???) or Bob’s little bro’ Jim Mitchum — to be more than a sickly shade of the original, but Neil Connery deserves credit for being slightly more surprising than that. Unfortunately he’s been dubbed with a standard-issue Amurrican accent, even though the character is described as originating from Edinburgh (for some reason, when big brother Sean’s birthplace is cited in films, e.g. THE ROCK, it’s usually given as Glasgow). But Neil compensates physically with weird mannerisms. (1) Clutching his groin protectively with both hands while talking to Bianchi. (2) Randomly alternating his total of two facial expressions, one of which seems to say “This line has a clever hidden meaning that only I know,” while the other signifies, desperately “I have no idea what that line means.” (3) Blinking furiously whenever he’s not actually trying to hypnotise anyone. I think he might actually be signalling in Morse Code — a message just for me, that’s crossed four decades to reach its target. “If you’re watching this, and I can only pray you are, please — FORGIVE ME!”

But I can’t actually read Morse Code so it’s tough luck for Neil.

12 Responses to ““Why does Mr. Thai employ only blind men in his rug factory?””

  1. I quite like the 1967 (totally insane) Casino Royale myself. Everyone AND David Niven played James Bond. Plus it had that transplendent movie moment of Ursula Andress floating across the screen in slo-mo as Dusty Springfield cooed “The Look of Love” on the soundtrack.

  2. B. Kite may have a point when he suggests that without the Burt Bacharach soundtrack, audiences might be able to question whether what they’re watching actually consitutes a film, at all. It is kind of a test case as to how far fragmentation and incoherence can go, and proof that modern blockbusters are not the plotless assemblages of setpieces they’re often described as. They’re often considerably less interesting than that.
    It’s hard not to feel some trace of affection for that “film”. And the ending! They COULD have let it fizzle out with another non sequiteur, but the bar-room brawl chaos of guest-stars and sheer muddle achieves a kind of grandeur. Joe McGrath ventures into similar territory with the ocean liner stuff in The Magic Christian. In a way his style domonates CR, making him the auteur by default.

  3. Arthur S. Says:

    I like that one too. I actually prefer it to the far too serious recent version of ”Casino Royale”.

    James Bond films in general tend to be rip-offs and remakes of ”North by Northwest” and the best ones are the one which has a sense of fun attached to it, that’s why Sean Connery was the best because he knew how ridiculous the films were.

  4. I love the 1967 Casino Royale as a challenge to auteurism. Va Guest directed most of it I’m told. Joe McGrath did the Berlin segment. Huston did the Ireland sequence. As for the rest you’re on your own. Jackie Bissett tells me that Peter Sellers didn’t want to have other actors present went he was doing his lines, so in his scene with her his part was read ton her by Val Guest while she had to imagine his august presence.

  5. Oh, Sellers’ neurotic behaviour on that set is legendary. Despite having lost a bunch of weight and believing this made him a Handsome leading Man, he was more anxious and insecure than ever. He refused to appear in the casino set because green was an unlucky colour (what colour would you like the baize of the roulette table, Mr Sellers?) and refused to act opposite Welles. He eventually disappeared from the shoot, just as he disappears from the film. Welles would greet McGrath every day with “Where’s our thin friend today?”
    I’m assuming the great Indian musical number with the superb Joanna Pettet is Ken Hughes’ work, since he had musical experience. I think Nic Roeg may have shot that as well as the Berlin stuff.

  6. I would really love to see this film (OKB that is).
    I have a really nerdy/creepy James Bond book at home that disdainfully describes it as a “second rate Italian ‘epic'”. It also says Neil Connery was working as a plasterer before his acting debut.
    I didn’t find that description particularly helpful.
    Yours on the other hand makes it sound like this:

  7. Not actually as bizarre as some genuine Turkish and Brazilian rip-offs of Hollywood films!

    Neil Connery actually worked with my actor friend’s dad during his plastering days. He had some good stories about NC, but we’ve agreed to keep quiet about them. Out of respect.

  8. […] My own review of the same film is here. […]

  9. I’m intrigued that the younger Connery plays a different character to himself who has exactly the same name. I can’t imagine that happens very often. Usually in these situations the performers are playing fictionalised versions of themselves (Malkovich, etc.). The only examples I can think of are Tim Holt of Ambersons/Sierra Madre fame, who played a cowboy/farmer called ‘Tim Holt’ in a dozen or so westerns, and Michael Williams as the disgruntled soldier Williams in Branagh’s Henry V, who is identified in a stage direction as ‘Michael Williams’. (Just Kenny’s little joke, I guess.)

  10. An interesting point. Can we think of other instances of actors playing versions of themselves, with the same names but with different lives? Lucy and Desi? Tony Hancock?

  11. ExperimentoFilm Says:

    Marcello Mastroianni always seemed to be playing one Marcello or another.

  12. With the occasional Fred, Leo or Guido thrown in.

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