We’re back in the legendary 1960s. This is the decade where James Bond wasn’t merely following the trends of current movie successes like Star Wars or The Matrix… Bond was THE TREND. Everything that could be attached to this name was hot property and spanned an enormous amount of official (and mostly unofficial) merchandise. The biggest thing one could ever do was to make a James Bond spoof. The first few dozens were fun, but they constantly grew more tiresome until we reached the ultimate spoof: Casino Royale, a movie most of us could forget. However, there are worse things out there… Here’s the true story of a little-known movie travesty from Italy.
In the 1960s, Italy has spanned tons of Bond-related spoofs, the best known is probably 1967’s OK Connery, aka Operation Kid Brother. The movie starred Sean’s little brother, Neil Connery in the title role and an unbelievable number of Bond celebrities: Daniela Bianchi (Maya), Adolpho Celi (Their Beta), Anthony Dawson (Alpha) and most surprisingly Bernard Lee (Commander Cunningham) and Lois Maxwell (Ms. Maxwell). Probably this tells you how seriously this spoof was made…
Don’t let the impressive cast fool you. Operation Kid Brother is probably one of the worst spoofs ever, which makes us even sadder when we consider who the participants are. I wouldn’t waste too much word on the plot, it has something to do with a SPECTRE-imitation group Thanatos, which uses a magnetic wave generator thingy to take over the world… Not too much sense there, even by Italian spoof standards.
There’s still something to see Operation Kid Brother for. Even the shallowest Bond-fan can unearth the “funny” references. A well-educated Bond-fan can skip these and see the movie for what it’s really all about: the filmmakers don’t commit the same mistakes Broccoli and Saltzman did with From Russia With Love and we can see much more of Daniela “1960 Miss Universe runner-up” Bianchi.
Don’t worry, this was only a short rest before we really go to the bottom of the barrel to do an analysis of a movie that was buried deep inside archives until now…
Se Tutte le Donne del Mondo
Dino De Laurentiis is now a successful producer with hundreds of titles behind him. But not just any movies: his remake of King Kong is now attached to his name (probably to eliminate the confusion with the original one, but still…). However his career includes many low budget features from his days in Italy, one of them is the little-known movie, Se Tutte le Donne del Mondo.
If All The Women In The World… This is the literal translation of the movie’s title, but it’s better known all over the world as Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die. The movie is only available on bootlegged video cassettes (haven’t heard about a DVD release so far) and it probably would be completely forgotten, if it hadn’t shared so many similarities with Moonraker.
Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die takes its fair share of spoofing the official series, particularly targeting Goldfinger and Thunderball. We have it all from electrocuted henchman to the villain’s exotic yacht; from the people-crushing automatic door to a colourful festival where our hero interrogates the femme fatale… And when the villain kills his own business partners, we just scream for Goldfinger. These are all classic Bond elements and can be easily identified by anyone who has seen the movies… However, the weird features immediately start.
No Room For Three
Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die was shot during the pre-production of You Only Live Twice with an intention to release it earlier or around the same time the official movie would arrive to Italian cinemas. However, the announcement of Casino Royale, a spoof with bigger star power left no choice for Laurentiis and his team but to wrap up the movie and release it as soon as possible, avoiding the competition with not one but two Bond movies.
In the end, Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die was released in late 1966, avoiding the spy rush hour. Because of distributional problems, the movie arrived to the US later, dangerously close to the release of the official and the unofficial movies. Those who bothered to see all of them may have found interesting connections: the Italian movie featured Red Chinese officers supplying the rocketry to the plan, whereas the villain had an unusual habit to feed his enemies/friends to pet piranhas… All we can say that this is coincidence: it’s unlikely that EON sent spies to the set of this low-budget feature, and as we all know, spy movies are formulatic. Twists and techniques have been done somewhere else, albeit not always so close to each other.
The Moonraker Connections
Now let’s look at the plot synopsis of the movies to uncover the connection between Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die and Moonraker that are more than superficial.
The villain of the piece has an inspired plan to get rid of mankind. He wants to sterilise the earth from a satel-lite orbiting in outer space, using a special rare orchid. His plan would not affect lower lifeforms, and once the world has been wiped out, he would repopulate the planet with a master race, from which we mainly see scan-tily dressed girls around him. But secret agents are after the madman…
The investigating couple is consisted of a male CIA and a female MI6 spy, Agent Kelly and Susan Fleming (!). They meet on a tramway station, but their cover (if any) is quickly blown away because of a murder attempt. Though not really trusting each other, the couple investigates the case and finally confronts the villain, whose plans are explained with an orchid on display. The female agent is captured in a rockethead, but is saved when government troops take action.
The similarities become even more disturbing, when particular scenes are seen again. The Igazu Falls, the tramway and the carnival are all featured in both movies as possible exotic locations. When Susan’s car hits a Bullova watch billboard, we are immediately reminded of a similar incident featuring a British Airways advertisement. And let’s not forget that Drax’s orchids sterilised people as well until he upgraded the plant.
A Bond movie can not be imagined without a decent amount of gadgets. Just as a reminder, let’s look at some gadgets of Moonraker:
- Bond’s dart-firing wristband.
- Holly’s dart-firing diary.
- Holly ’s poison needle injecting pen.
- Holly’s flamethrower perfume.
Now let’s look at the gadget owned by Agent Kelly and Susan Fleming in Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die:
- Kelly’s dart-firing shoes.
- Susan’s dart-firing cigarette.
- Susan’s poison needle injecting ring.
- Susan’s knockout gas eyebrow pencil.
These are some remarkable coincidences, if take into account that some of the Moonraker gadgets were throwaway ones, i.e. they weren’t used in the movie, only demonstrated.
If the existing scenes of Moonraker have so many in common with Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die, what about those scenes that never made it into the final product. As I mentioned earlier, the Italian movie features co-financiers being executed. According to Tom Mankiewicz, there was a scene but never shot, featuring Drax and his business partners in the villain’s Amazonian lair; this is why the room under the exhaust chamber where Bond and Holly are trapped is fancily furnished. It’s not hard to guess, why Drax put his business room under the deadly rocket…
So what’s the reason for these remarkable coincidences. I’ve investigated and the only direct connection between the two movies is the appearance of stuntman George Leech in the Italian movie and installments of the Bond series, albeit not in Moonraker. It’s very unlikely that a stuntman could have such an impact on a movie’s story, still a nice coincidence.
I haven’t found any official statements from Christopher Wood or EON that they had any knowledge on the previous product, not to mention that they’d used it as a source material. Let’s admit it, the Moonraker movie has much more connections with Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die than with Fleming’s novel.
The Internet Movie Database has made up its mind. It claims that Moonraker is a REMAKE of Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die. This is exaggeration at its worst, but the coincidences are more than remarkable.
The Cat will return in his next article!