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Late Night Movie House of Crap: Operation Double 007

4 Jan

January 4, 2011

1967.

Notable deaths of the year included Robert Oppenheimer, Basil Rathbone, and Gus Grissom. Births included Dave Matthews, Tia Carrere, and professional wrestler Glenn (WWF’s Kane) Jacobs. We lost Robert Oppenheimer but gained Dave Matthews. God must be kidding.

The James Bond franchise included Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and You Only Live Twice, all starring Sean Connery. The next film would be On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring George Lazenby. I’ll say this for his only turn as Bond: he looked good in a tux. However, this was not to be the last film starring Connery.

In 1967 Connery starred in Operation Double 007.

That’s Connery, Neil Connery.

Sean’s brother.

(And you thought I was going to mention Diamonds are Forever or Never Say Never Again.)

In the 1960’s Europe was flooded with James Bond knockoff films. These European entrepreneurs (today we call them Eurotrash) made several spy films of varying quality but they all made money. This one is a bit different. The producers had loftier goals. They aimed to get this one distributed in the United States, where the real money was. And they did, through no less than United Artists. Originally titled Operation Kid Brother and also OK Connery, when it hit the U.S. it acquired the name by which we know it best, Operation Double 007.

So how did they do it?

First, they hired many of the James Bond supporting cast.

  • Bernard Lee, who played “M” in the Bond films, here played the same role, head of the Secret Service.
  • Lois “Miss Moneypenny” Maxwell played “Miss Maxwell”.
  • Adolfo Celi, who played the baddie Emilio Largo in Thunderball.
  • Daniela Bianchi, a former Bond girl from From Russia with love.
  • Anthony Dawson from Dr. No, but also Blofeld in a pair of films. OK, he was really only Blofeld’s hands but it still counts.

Now that’s not bad. Right away that elevates it above any of the other spoofs, and they were also willing to spend money, as both Lee and Maxwell said they were paid more for this film than they ever were for a Bond film.

The plot is pretty simple. Some evil bad guys threaten to take over the world, so the Secret Service calls in their top spy, who of course goes unnamed. (There is a lot of  pronoun fun to cover it, though they do call him “Connery”.) The twist to this film is that the spy is somehow unavailable so they do the next best thing- they bring in his look-alike brother to do the job (and luckily he is also a skilled martial artist and archer, among other things.) The best part? They got Sean Connery’s unemployed plasterer brother to play the part, and he really did look a lot like Sean.

Except for the beard and moustache.

The film has never been released on DVD or cassette, though many of us (me!) were lucky enough to see the MST3K version.

So what happened to Neil? The film did great, and the producers decided to cast him in a whole series of spy spoofs.

And then brother Sean quit the Bond franchise and they fired Neil.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present, Operation Double 007.

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