Climax! Casino Royale – In my first review for 007 Blogathon, here are my thoughts on the original Casino Royale that was made for American TV in the 50’s.
‘Oh, as I’m sure you know, Mr Bond, no secret agent can be absolutely certain that another agent isn’t working for the other side. Although I… I always thought loving each other meant trusting each other. – Le Chiffre
Climax! Casino Royale
Synopsis – An American secret agent named James Bond must win a high-stakes poker game against notorious criminal named Le Chiffre.
For Fresh Eyes Only: Casino Royale (1967) — Talk Film Society
My Take – This was an interesting find only because this is 007’s first screen appearance.
Since this was on American television, the roles of Bond and Leiter were reversed so that Bond is an American spy and Leiter is British.
The story doesn’t flow so well and he seems trapped in a small space, dying to get out.
It’s possible that at the time it was more in line with the way action/spy/thriller movies were made, so the audience must have liked it a lot more than I did.
Climax! Casino Royale James Bond
Bond here seems too tame in terms of his style and grace with both women and enemies.
The plot and script are nothing like the pace and dynamics of the two future Bond films of that title.
On the other hand, there’s the witty Bond dialogue that writer Ian Fleming was famous for, and even a hint at future Bond gadgets involving the use of a cane/gun, which was reused much later in the series.
Suffice it to say that only those who are die-hard fans of the series or out of pure nostalgia should watch the film.
Casino Royale (movie, 2006) — Actors, Trailers, Photos
Bottom line – it could have looked much better in the 50’s, but now it seems to be a very mild version of what we all know about James Bond and his methods. A very average script that borders on boredom but is helped by some interesting dialogue and a secret weapon that will be used more in a future Bond movie. For hardcore Bond fans only. To be honest, going into this Bond Marathon, I considered myself a pretty big hardcore fan, but I quickly discovered that there are some more dedicated and fanatical fans of the franchise than I am, but I mean that in a good way because, as well as the fact that that a marathon is something I find more fun than educational (hell, I’ve seen them all before). But there is also this episode in the Bond saga. Granted, this version of the classic Ian Fleming character is not an official entry for EON Productions. True, this is not a full-length production. True, this is an adaptation of Casino Royale, the fight between Bond and Le Chiffre. True, this time Bond is American. True, this is the first appearance of the character on the screen. Wait! What!? Bond, an American!? There was Bond before Connery!? Ridiculously. I told you I thought I was stubborn. Well, you’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore, which means stepping into this TV adaptation of Casino Royale. I understand that some fans of the 2006 movie probably have no idea that there is a fake 1966 version, but even I didn’t know this 1954 version existed until this marathon.
The basic story of Casino Royale remains the same. James Bond (Barry Nelson) is called upon to take down the villain, Le Chiffre (Peter Lorre), who wants to return the money he lost. his plan? Play baccarat. So Bond, who knows the cards, is invited to the table next to a Soviet spy. British agent Clarence Leiter (Michael Pate), since remember Bond is American, so Leiter would be British, is there to support Bond financially. Then there’s the complicated opposite sex in the form of Valerie Mathis (Linda Christian). Every Bond story must have a Bond girl. Within 48 minutes, a TV episode has to wrap the story into a narrative to convey everything the viewer needs. There’s card game, attempted murder, flirtation and classic Bond pride that ultimately leads to a showdown between Bond and the villain.
I was very excited to sit down and experience this version of Bond for the first time, although I had some apprehensions given my experience with the 1966 fake version of Casino Royale, which I found truly unacceptable. But I also enjoyed Never say never, another unofficial Bond position in this marathon. But I think the short duration, given that “the movie” is a TV production, mystery theater, was what threw me the most. Telling the whole story of Le Chiffre, setting up the Bond characters and getting them together at a card table with as high stakes as it supposedly was, the short duration was a problem in my eyes. The 2006 version, which is obviously completely different, is almost 100 full minutes longer. Everything just felt stripped down and underdeveloped between all the characters except maybe the Bond/Leiter relationship. But given the market for this production, I can say that it did what it had to do. For a short, 48-minute, mysteriously theatrical television adaptation, Casino Royale is beautifully done. But in favor of the marathon, it pales in comparison to the other productions we analyzed.
I can get over Bond being American, Leiter being British and all that bullshit, but I can’t get over Barry Nelson’s performance as James Bond. For the first time with an on-screen character, he has nothing to base his character on other than Fleming’s novels and direction by Brown Jr., the episode’s director. Since I’ve never read any of the novels (yes, I’m not really hardcore), I can’t say anything from that perspective, but Nelson was really dry, boring and uninteresting in the role. The movie really made him some sort of American bully who plays cards well. It was pretty lifeless in my opinion. How interesting it was to discover that Michael Pate, who played Clarence Leiter, might be the best part of the movie. Pate actually exuded authenticity, while everyone else seemed much more immersed in the production. Even the great Peter Lorre was somewhat displeased, though that may be due to his reputation. As a villain choice, Le Chiffre seems perfect, but perhaps a bit past its peak, Lorre is pretty average here. It certainly has its classic Lorre moments, mostly towards the end/climax of the film, but overall I find it bland as Le Chiffre. The same can be said for Linda Christian as Valerie, the Bond girl.
Casino Royale On Climax! (1954) Movie Summary
I really can’t spoil the movie that much when I put it in the context of a 1954 TV episode. It seems like it used to be quite fun, but now that we’ve seen everything Bond has to offer in the other 24 movies, this production must be low on the list. There just isn’t enough to grab hold of, and Nelson is too memorable as Bond for the movie to really do anything that interesting. Am I glad I watched it? Absolutely. I love just about anything Bond related, and getting new treats is more than welcome, but I have to say I understand why so many skip it because I wouldn’t call it essential. After watching again
I said I need it in my collection. I think I can pass it on
And gladly. Let me tell you, it did more than any other Bond movie to teach me how to play baccarat. Now I actually know how the game works.
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