Casino Royale (1967) - Illustrated Reference
Casino Royale was directed by John Huston, Val Guest, Ken Hughes, Joseph McGrath and Robert Parrish. It premiered on 19th April 1967. Starring David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Orson Welles, Deborah Kerr and Ursula Andress. Screenplay by Wolf Mankowitz, John Law & Michael Sayers. Music by Burt Bacharach. 131mins.
Sir James Bond is brought back out of retirement after M’s death and has to take on SMERSH one last time. His plan is to rename every secret service agent “James Bond 007” to confuse the enemy. One agent, Evelyn Tremble, posing as Bond is sent to Monaco to take part in a game of Baccarat against Le Chiffre, an agent of SMERSH.
Producer Charles K. Feldman had obtained the rights to Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel from the widow of the man who originally had the rights to the book. Feldman at first wanted to make a serious movie with Sean Connery starring but when Connery refused he decided to turn it into a full blown comedy spectacular.
David Niven (1910-1983) / Sir James Bond
Sir James Bond is a retired British secret service agent. Mata Hari was the love of his life, before she died by firing squad she gave birth to Mata Bond, Sir James only child. When M is killed Sir James takes over the secret service, whereupon he names all his agents James Bond.
Peter Sellers (1925-1980) / Evelyn Tremble
Baccarat expert Evelyn Tremble is recruited into the secret service and agrees to accept £100,000 from Vesper Lynd to play Le Chiffre in Monte Carlo.
Ursula Andress (1936-) / Vesper Lynd
Vesper Lynd is a double agent employed by Sir James Bond to seduce Evelyn Tremble into going to Monaco to play baccarat against Le Chiffre.
Orson Welles (1915-1985) / Le Chiffre
Le Chiffre, an agent of SMERSH, enjoys playing baccarat at the Casino Royale, he is also a part time magician who likes to show off his magic tricks at the table.
Woody Allen (1935-) / Jimmy Bond aka Dr. Noah
Jimmy Bond is Sir James nephew. He turns to crime, calling himself Dr. Noah, he plans to conquer the world with an army of sexy female agents.
Deborah Kerr (1921-2007) / Lady Fiona McTarry aka Agent Mimi
Mimi is an agent of Dr. Noahs posing as M’s widow in an attempt to seduce 007. She falls in love with Bond and later becomes a nun.
John Huston (1906-1987) / 'M'
M is the head of the secret service, in the film his real name is McTarry. He is accidentally killed during a mortar attack on Bond’s mansion.
Le Chiffre "Don't worry about that chair with a hole in the middle. It's merely waiting to be reupholstered."
Casino Royale’s connections with the official movie series include - Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder in Dr. No), Vladek Shebal (Kronsteen in From Russia With Love), Milton Reid (Sandor in The Spy Who Loved Me), John Hollis (Blofeld in For Your Eyes Only), Burt Kwouk (Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice), Valerie Leon (The Spy Who Loved Me).
The Sean Connery Bond movie You Only Live Twice also came out in 1967, a few months after Casino Royale premiered.
Sir James drives a black Bentley Special 4.5 litre while Evelyn Tremble drives a black Lotus Formula 3 racing car.
French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Boyer, George Raft, Peter O’Toole and William Holden all make guest appearances
One director, Ken Hughes, recalled “I never saw a script, I was given some pages and was told we weren’t going to use them anyway.”
Vesper Lynd: Mr Evelyn Tremble?
Evelyn Tremble: Yes, that's right.
Vesper Lynd: Isn't Evelyn a girl's name?
Evelyn Tremble: No, it's mine, actually.
Peter Sellers and Orson Welles disliked each other, forcing the use of stand ins for scenes where they are supposed to be looking at each other.
Director Val Guest would get phone calls from the producer at odd hours of the day telling him that William Holden was popping by and George Raft was arriving later and they had to be quickly written into the script.
The theme song “The Look of Love” sung by Dusty Springfield peaked at #4 at the US charts, it received a Best Song nomination at the Oscars.
Burt Bacharach’s music score was Grammy nominated. Bacharach won two Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Best Music and Best Song (shared with Hal David).
Casino Royale was originally budgeted at $6m and ended up costing a whopping $12m, but the film was successful grossing $42m worldwide. Orson Welles remarked that it must have been the movie poster showing a naked tattooed girl that was drawing audiences in.
Cooper: "Height: six foot two and a half. 184 pounds. Trophies for karate and judo, holder of the Kama Sutra black belt. "
In my opinion the film was colourful with plenty of girls in mini skirts and hot pants, but despite the appearance of David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen the film just isn’t all that funny.
There are moments, like the baccarat game, when you’re hoping the film has stabilised but it soon goes off the rails again and the brawling climax is just a loud chaotic unfunny mess.
A collector's item tor fans of the stars and James Bond completists than, otherwise a psychedelic damp squib.
The Critics Wrote –
"If it were stopped at the end of an hour and 40 minutes instead of at the end of 2 hours and 10 minutes, it might be a terminally satisfying entertainment instead of the wearying one it is." (New York Times)
"A very funny picture, and no two ways about it... One would have to be a misanthrope with a toothache... not to find something to laugh at... I enjoyed being run over by it for two hours and ten minutes." (Brendan Gill, New Yorker)
"The dialogue is witless and unhampered by taste, and the interminable finale is a collection of cliches in a brawl involving the cavalry, parachuted Indians, split-second appearances by George Raft and Jean-Paul Belmondo every variety of mayhem, and Woody Alien burping radiation as a walking atom bomb." (Judith Crist)
"I suppose a film this chaotic was inevitable. There has been a blight of these unorganized comedies, usually featuring Sellers, Allen, and-or Jonathan Winters, in which the idea is to prove how zany and clever everyone is when he throws away the script and goes nuts in front of the camera." (Roger Ebert)
"Woefully unfunny, unwatchable spoof of James Bond films, wasting the talents of five directors and an all-star cast including David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen." (Chris Tookey)
"Never before has so much talent and money been thrown away in the achievement of so little." (Elliot)