Neil Connery was a plasterer in Scotland who lost his tools and got fired. This story made the international news and reached the ear of Bond director Terence Young (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball), who told Italian producer Dario Sabatello that Neil sounded just like his older brother.
The producer met Neil in his native Scotland and got him to screentest for a Eurospy film. The younger brother of Sean just kept saying, “OK, Connery, OK,” which ended up being one of the many titles for this movie.
To make it happen, they recruited Alberto De Martino, who already had experience in this genre thanks to his films Special Mission Lady Chaplin, Upperseven and The Man to Kill.
Then, Sabatello went all out to make the most Bond non-Bond movie ever, hiring Adolfo Celi (Emilio Largo from Thunderball), Daniela Bianchi (who was Tatiana Romanova in From Russia With Love), Anthony Dawson (Dr. No himself) and Bernard Lee as Commander Cunningham (he’s the same character as M, who he played in many of the Bond movies) and Lois Maxwell, playing Miss Maxwell, who is exactly the same as her more famous Miss Moneypenny character. Somehow, Lee and Maxwell kept showing up in Bond movies after this.
Sadly, Maxwell claimed that she earned more money for OK Connery than her combined salary from all the times that she played Moneypenny put together. She also claimed that Sean Connery yelled, “You betrayed me!” when she told him she was going to be in this film.
You have to give it up to Sabatello’s balls. He had huge ones. He even asked Sean to join his brother in this movie. That didn’t go well.
He even went so far as to hire Yee-Wah Young, one of the Japanese bath girls from You Only Live Twice. Then again, she’d been in the papers thanks to her relationship with James Mason, so it was like killing two birds with one Q-designed stone.
The movie starts with James Bond — not named — murdered and Miss Maxwell (Lois Maxwell) looking for the spy’s girlfriend Miss Yashuko (Yee-Wah Young). She has information that puts her life in danger, but she’s getting plastic surgery with hypnotism from Dr. Neil Connery (yeah, that guy).
However, Mr. Thayer (Celi) and Maya Rafis (Bianchi) — agents of THANATOS — kidnap her and Connery ends up roped in on a mission with no training whatsoever. Then again, he can hypnotize women, which dudes used to do in 1967 as a pick up trick, one assumes.
He finds out where his brother’s girlfriend is from a gorgeous woman (Agata Flori, who was in the Hallelujah films and was married to Sabatello) and then rescues Miss Yashuko from a Spanish castle, where he discovers that THANATOS is building a supermagnet that will shut down the world’s power supply. Indeed — magnets. How do they work?
That giant weapon is being built in a Moroccan rug factory filled with blind employees, which feels like a story beat out of an Alejandro Jodorowsky film, not an Italian spy ripoff.
There’s some inter-THANATOS fighting, Scottish archers killing evil agents, Anthony Dawson making an appearance and the final line, “O.K. Connery! You were almost better than your brother.”
Call it Operation Double 007, Secret Agent 00 or Operation Kid Brother. No matter what, it’s a strange footnote in Bond history. I love how brazen it is, lifting characters whole cloth for a movie that we’re never sure that we should be taking seriously.
Hey — they even got Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai to compose the score together! And it has its own theme song, “Se Chiami Amore” (“If You Call Love”) by Christie that the two titans of Italian movie music co-wrote, sung by Maria Cristina Brancucci, who would sing “Deep Deep Down” for Danger: Diabolik the next year!