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  OK Connery Double Oh Brother
Year: 1967
Director: Alberto De Martino
Stars: Neil Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Adolfo Celi, Agata Flori, Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson, Lois Maxwell, Yachuco Yama, Franco Giacobini, Ana María Noé, Guido Lollobrigida, Francesco Tensi, Enzo Consoli, Mirella Pamphili, Nando Angelini, Pietro Ceccarelli
Genre: Action, Thriller, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Secret Service are expecting a delivery by aeroplane, so when it starts coming in to land and agent Max (Lois Maxwell) is waiting for it on the runway, all seems to be going to plan. However, unbeknownst to her are the signals being broadcast to an empty car nearby, one which suddenly springs into life and drives towards the landing strip. Max does her best to shoot at the vehicle, but it's no use, the plane crashes in a ball of flame and the pilot perishes, then to make matters worse the package is picked up by one of the emergency crew and smuggled away. Who could be behind such mayhem? Step forward international criminal Mr Thai (Adolfo Celi) - can't anyone stop him?

How about 007 himself, James Bond? How about not? How about his younger brother instead? How about we watch a proper Bond movie rather than spending time with a pale imitation? Well, before you head off for the official version, there was a point of interest in OK Connery, also known as Operation Kid Brother, and that was the producers really did cast Scottish megastar Sean Connery's sibling Neil Connery in the role of himself for this effort, as he was well known as a plastic surgeon, hypnotist, lip reader and master archer. Fine, he wasn't any of those things, but seeing the chance to get in on the acting lark, he did accept the offer from these opportunistic Italians to give his brother a run for his money.

It didn't turn out that way, of course, and this feature was a mere footnote in Bond lore, despite the presence of a faux Bond theme lending new meaning to the word "histrionic" and a bunch of actors who had made their names in the franchise. Lois Maxwell couldn't play Miss Moneypenny and Bernard Lee couldn't play M, but with a quick change of name they could essay roles very like them, so it is Lee's "Commander Cunningham" who recruits yer man Neil to battle the combined forces of Thanatos, except they could not call this newly discovered thespian Neil Bond, so he is actually the brother of Sean and not of Bond, except in this movie's universe they were synonymous. Confused? So slavishly was the formula followed that Daniela Bianchi of From Russia with Love fame was the lead Bond Girl.

Only she was - what? An OK Girl? Anyway, she played Maya Rafis, right hand woman of Mr Thai (Celi had been the baddie in Thunderball recently, hence his involvement, being Italian and all) who in a non-surprising development is seduced by Neil to the other side, though in this case he didn't get up to much hanky panky as it was the action aspect of things director Alberto De Martino was more interested in, even then no stranger to the cheerful rip-off cinema of his home nation. It was almost as if the audience, familiar with the way this tended to go, were expected to watch this with no questions, not even a furrow of the brow as yet more clichés were trotted out with no resort to explaining how any of it would make sense in a plotline separate from the Bond series.

Bianchi even accuses Connery of reading too many Fleming novels, which shows the cheek of a production that would never have existed without them. Yet this shamelessness was its strongest suit, because there was a lack of charisma and intrigue about the whole film which did not rest entirely on its leading man's shoulders. Illustrating how talent does not necessarily run in the family, Neil was competent but with his mild expression under a moustache and goatee no matter how often his persona's exploits were talked up we were never remotely convinced, and giving him all these abilities was not going to look anything but spoofy when to all intents and purposes the tone was played surprisingly straight. Throw in nonsensical elements such as a band of blind workers weaving radioactive rugs or a whole army of William Tells to despatch the Thanatos troops at their base and you had yet another low grade copy, like it or not, with a confidence it was getting it right. Although Celi's wardrobe was something to behold - gold kaftan and red leather jumpsuit? Music by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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