Thursday, June 27, 2013

Operation Double 007 (1967) – MST3K Review


Who do you call when an evil criminal organization called Thanatos attempts to destroy the world’s economy using a strange magnetic device? Oddly enough you contact Dr. Neil Connery played by Neil Connery. The good doctor is a master plastic surgeon, hypnotist, martial artist and crack shot with a bow and arrow. Why wouldn’t you want him on your side?

The evil Mr. Thayer (Adolfo Celi sans eye patch) kidnaps the lovely Miss Yashuko (Yachuco Yama) and attempts to break her hypnotic barrier. Neil is pressured into action by Commander Cunningham (Bernard Lee) and Miss Maxwell (Louis Maxwell). But the forces of evil have a team of lovelies lead by Maya Rafis (Daniela Bianchi) who can kick butt and look sexy all at the same time. Will Neil be able to uncover Thayer’s evil plan, save the world and get the girl? Or will Operation Double 007 be a complete failure?

Movie Review:

The name is Connery, Neil Connery... Doctor.
Also known as Ok Connery or Operation Kid Brother this movie was released the same year as You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale with Peter Sellers. It came at a time when the spy-mania of the 1960s had already peaked. The Bond movies had reached their most over the top, and the competition was saturating the market with spy films and spy spoofs. The next Bond flick would be On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which would move away form comic book action and more toward the thrillers of the early portion of the series.

I’m setting the stage because it explains a lot about Operation Double 007. It literally grabs elements, actors and ideas from many previous James Bond and spy films and slams them all together in the hope of making an entertaining film. It has much more in common with its peer Casino Royale than it does with the proper franchise, and it is just as disjointed. What makes this film fail to click is the lack of a charismatic lead performance.

Miss Bianchi in one of her less outrageous outfits.
Neil Connery was doomed in this film from the start. Sean Connery was the epitome of spy culture in the 1960s. Even a spoof like Casino Royale understood this, and therefore let the actor(s) playing James Bond do as much as they could to distance themselves from Connery as possible. But poor Neil’s very presence forces us to compare him constantly to his brother, and it is just a loosing battle. He doesn’t have the natural charisma, the presence and the innate talent to make the role work. For some reason Neil is also poorly dubbed, which doesn’t help the situation in the least. I’m sure he did what he could, and probably had some fun in the role, but as a whole, his performance just doesn’t generate any sparks.

This leaves us with the supporting cast.  In a bizarre and amazing turn of events, nearly all the roles are populated by actors who appeared in previous Bond films. It makes things fun for fans of the series, but it also brings up the previous performances for easy comparison. In this case, it doesn’t sink the ship. Bernard Lee who played “M” in all the James Bond film up to Moonraker appears in a similar role in Operation Double 007. Louis Maxwell plays his assistant Miss Maxwell, instead of Moneypenny. Maxwell looks like she is having a great old time, running around with machine guns and blowing people away. Daniela Bianchi, of From Russia With Love fame, plays the Pussy Galore inspired role. She starts off evil, but falls for Neil as the film progresses. She too seems to be having a fun time playing the wicked girl.

With or without the eyepatch, Celi is one bad dude.
The two main villains are also familiar faces. Anthony Dawson plays Alpha, the head of the crime syndicate Thanatos. The irony is that Dawson provided the hands of Blofeld in the films From Russia with Love and Thunderball, where we only see the hands and the cat. He also played the treacherous Professor Dent in Dr. No. Then there’s Adolfo Celi who was so memorable in Thunderball as the right hand of SPECTRE. He plays Mr. Thayer much broader and more extravagant. In many ways, he’s cooler than Neil, but his final plan is so silly it’s hard to take him seriously, especially in that red vinyl jumpsuit.

Yeah, about the costumes in Operation Double 007… Bianchi and her gals end up wearing some of the most over the top and ultra-60s costumes I’ve seen in some time. How these are supposed to be anything other than hilarious, well I’m not sure. But these gals end up looking so silly that it removes any threat from those scenes. The sequence where they steal a nuclear device dressed as cat/skunk/showgirls… well, it has to be seen to be believed. The final battle features guys dressed in odd lederhosen-esque outfits against guys in red vinyl jumpsuits. So at least the ladies don’t get all the silly costume fun.

Catgirl Skunk Showgirls... AWAY!
The music is pure 1960s spy sound. Part was composed by Ennio Morricone, one of the most prolific composers out there. He worked on a few films in this genre, including Danger Diabolik. Sure we all know his spaghetti westerns, like The Good the Bad and the Ugly and his wonderful work on The Mission. But he was a busy guy, and even had time for flicks like this. The hilarious opening song, called Ok Connery is a combination of catchy jazzy hook and ridiculous lyrics about how awesome and amazing Connery is. Even James Bond looks like an idiot in comparison to this paragon described in the song.

The plot, well it kinda makes some sense, you know, if you don’t think about it too much. This isn’t that big a deal really. Even James Bond flicks aren’t immune to confusing or nonsensical plots (I’m looking at you Octopussy). Thanatos is attempting to use a magnetic device that will stop all the machines in the world (borrowed from Klaatu and The Day the Earth Stood Still?). But all the things they have to do to get that device just don’t add up. Sure it leads to some set pieces, but most of the time you’re just wondering if there wasn’t an easier way to get Dr. Connery from adventure to adventure.

"I see you envy my tailor, Mr. Connery."
But I have to admit some of the set pieces in Operation Double 007 are creative. You get an abduction involving a nun and a elaborate cable device. Then there is a raid on a castle that involves disguises, explosions and Moneypenny with a machine gun. There’s a battle aboard a yacht that pits the female squad against a bunch of goons. There’s the cat/skunk/showgirl sequence. The final battle forces our heroes and villains to battle without using any machinery or guns.

When you boil it down, this movie could have been a lot worse. It moves at a good pace, never takes itself seriously, and just wants to entertain you for a couple hours. The tone is a bit odd. It never seems like an outright parody, but it is too goofy to be a serious spy film. The end result is a breezy good time, but it has enough oddities to make it a great target for Joel and the bots.

Episode Review:  
The bridge of Mr. Connery's nose makes for
fascinating cinema.
The Italian spy film genre is teeming with all kinds of films. Some of them are horrible, some of them are good fun and some just kind of sit there. Luckily there are enough of them out there that the crew at Mystery Science Theater 3000 could pick and choose the ones that would work best with their format.

Operation Double 007 has all the right ingredients to make this a very fun episode. It is certainly a step up from the previous spy flick they tackled, Secret Agent Super Dragon. The fact that a whole host of Bond actors are in the film allows the crew to come up with some pretty hilarious material. They mine some serious gold from the fact that Neil Connery is in the film. There are plenty of jokes where other characters keep mistaking Neil for James Bond, or asking for his brother’s autograph. One of my favorite lines happens near the end where Mr. Thayer whirls around to see Connery standing there and Crow says in a urbane villainous voice, “Ah, Mr. Bond…. ‘s brother.”

They have a great time with his various powers. They wonder about his hypnotism, and the fact that each time he uses it, the camera is crammed right into his eyes. Or when he reads lips, while in disguise as a blind man, Tom says, “I hope he can read Braille lips”.

Moneypenny opens a can of hot leaded whoop-ass!
Speaking of disguises, the outfits in Operation Double 007 generate some serious riffing potential. Joel wonders why Bianchi is “dressed like Barney Rubble”. Later the assassin disguised as the nun fuels a whole mess of hilarious jokes including “I want the problem called Maria taken care of… permanently.” But my favorite sequence is the one where Louis Maxwell is in disguise as a gardener and wielding her machine gun. She looks a bit like Katherine Hepburn in On Golden Pond. The boys go to town with this, and do a bunch of hilarious Hepburn jokes including, “Norman, the calla lilies are raining hot lead!”

The host segments are a good bit of fun. Things start off with Joel sharing his home movies with the bots. Gypsy falls asleep, Crow is bored and pleading for help, and Tom is enjoying them! For the invention exchange Frank creates his lederhosen-hosen, which is a garden hose and some lederhosen. Crow creates the bobbin’ buzzard, which is just as odd as it sounds. At the first break, Joel is inspired the by main villain to turn the bots into his hench-girls and wander around acting smug. It’s very silly. For the next one, Joel and bots attempt to chart Neil and Sean’s careers. It gets a bit mean, but they apologize at the end. Finally the last two skits revolve around Torgo from Manos – The Hands of Fate returning with the sodas the mad scientists ordered way back in season four! The show ends with Torgo thanking Dr. Forrester for letting him use the bathroom – ick!

Torgo visits the Mad Scientists with a special treat.

All in all, this is a fun episode, not quite the best of the secret agent flicks they tackled. I like Danger! Death Ray a bit more. But James Bond fans will find plenty to like here, and the riffing is solid and stead all the way through.

I give it four cat/skunk/showgirls out of five.

This episode is available on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection XXV.


  1. I don't know how I missed this one. (I saw the '67 version of Casino Royale in the theater.) It sounds wonderfully dreadful. I usually enjoy my bad movies straight, but this might be safer with the MST3K filter.

    1. It appears that "Operation Kid Brother" (as it is called to avoid lawsuits due to the use of "007") is difficult to find on DVD in it's complete raw form in Region 1 DVDs. VHS may be the only way to see the movie in it's uncut glory. So the MST3K version will be the easiest route to take anyway. Definitely check it out, it's a good time. :)