“A most troublesome family”

For years, I’ve had a one-sheet poster on my wall that would have people ask “This is a joke , right?”

The poster showed what looked like Sean Connery, in his familiar cross-legged pose but wearing a beard and one of those mirrors doctors wear.

The tag line read “Neil Connery is too much” followed by the title “Operation Kid Brother” and a further tag line “…is too much for one mother”.

I had come across this poster in the bargain bin on my old National Screen Service repository during my college years. I picked it up for the modest sum of $5. It wasn’t fake.

[On the same visit, I had come across the poster for Inspector Clouseau with Alan Arkin as Inspector Clouseau. Talk about feeling like I had stepped into some kind of alternate universe.]

This 1967 Eurospy spoof was originally entitled O.K. Connery and reportedly came about when producer Dario Sabatello had read that Neil Connery had lost his plastering job. (No mention is made about wether or not he was plastered.) Following in the fine Italian tradition of knockoff filmmaking, he rounded out the cast with a plethora of alumni from the Bond films.

A few weeks later, as luck would have it, a local station played the film in its french dubbed version. That night, I cursed the fact my Betamax was still at home some 300 miles away but took 35 mm photos of the screen to prove this thing did indeed exist.

As I watched, I had a flashback of having already seen this film a dozen or so years earlier. I remembered vividly asking my older brother “Is that James Bond?” to which he replied “No. It’s his brother.”

Evidently, it’s exactly the kind of confusion over an actor and his onscreen identity that the filmmakers were aiming for.

So there I sat on the corner of my college bed, camera in hand, transfixed at the bold goofiness of the proceedings.

Neil Connery plays Neil Connery, Martial Arts expert, archery champion, master hypnotist and plastic surgeon. He gets contacted by the head of the British Secret Service (played by Bernard Lee, better known as ‘M’ in the official Bond series) and his secretary (played by Lois Maxwell, ‘Moneypenny’ to Sean). They inform him that their best agent, his brother, is vacationing in the Scottish Highlands (I’d say he’s hunting lion but that would be a McGuffin) and that only he can take his place- given his unique abilities. Makes sense. (This is , after all the same secret service that assured us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq so their logic should not be questioned.)

It seems recycled Bond villains Adolpho Celi and Anthony Dawson are up to no good again- as stipulated in their contracts with United Artist . This time they are part of an evil organisation called Thanatos where they gather around a conference room and try to guess which one will be killed by the impatient boss. Obviously the world needs saving – or at least a facelift or was it to quit smoking?… Anyway, they just need the guy because it’s a marquee-worthy gimmick.

Daniela Bianchi gets to prolong her 15 minutes of fame as a Bond Girl.

The most fun to be had in the film is to listen for dialogue which gets dangerously close to intellectual property lawsuit territory. Dawson’s line “He’s the brother of their best operative, Agent Oh Oh…” get cut by a curt “Yes. Yes. A most troublesome family.” from Celi.

It becomes painfully clear as the film progresses that Neil, despite looking like his brother, shares little of his abilities as an actor. He plays himself, which Sean has been accused of doing most of his career but he seems to have trouble pulling even that one. (As far as we kow, the only talent he
shares with Sean is the ability to drive under the influence. Only here it’s doubtful he is left off the hook by starstruck policemen.)

This grand chunk of cinematic mozzarella is set to a thick layer of Bondian music courtesy of Ennio Morricone. “Il Maestro” also supplied the amazingly upbeat theme song whose refrain is a chorus of breathless women’s voices repeatedly sighing “O.K. Connery”.

Don’t you want to just play this in your car with your top down (if only to stay sober?) on a sunny summer’s day?

I’d like to go on more here but I have to work from memory. The main purpose of this post is to implore the gods of DVD or at least the copyright owners to make this available at long last.

UPDATE:
Looky what someone was nice enough to post on YouTube.
The full feature in Scope.

Pain Level: 7/10

Quality of pain: Numbed by the blurred lines between reality and fiction- between logic and Eurospy goofiness

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About The Cinémasochist

I'd rather just talk about "bad" movies. View all posts by The Cinémasochist

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