Peter Sellers and Orson Welles hated each other so much that the filming of the scene where both of them face each other across a gaming table actually took place on different days with a double standing in for one the actors.
The rift between Orson Welles and Peter Sellers was partly caused by the arrival on set of Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II. Sellers knew her of old and greeted her in an ostentatious manner to ensure all cast and crew noticed. However, the Princess walked straight past him and made a big fuss over Welles. Nonplussed, Sellers stormed off the set and refused to film with Welles again.
Though the movie has little in common with the original Ian Fleming James Bond novel, a tie-in release of this book with the movie still occurred complete with the film's tattooed girl movie poster on the cover. A tagline for this edition read: "From: M. To: 007. IMMEDIATE ACTION. Have just seen Charles K. Feldman's film of this book - Only one thing in common - Both brilliant. Investigate and report."
A carpet beater can be seen hanging from the side of Orson Welles's chair. This is a link to the original Casino Royale novel, in which Le Chiffre tortures Bond by thrashing his testicles with a carpet beater.
According to interviews with director Val Guest, Peter Sellers became such a problem during the filming that the decision was made to fire him before he had finished all of his scenes. As a result, the end of the marching band torture scene was noticeably altered and Sellers' subsequent scenes were written out.
The name for the organization SMERSH comes from a Soviet counterespionage organization that existed during World War II. It was a branch of the NKVD (later KGB). The name is derived from the Russian phrase "smiert spionam" ("death to spies"). The Living Daylights later made use of Smiert Spionam as a plot device.
After the contest with the SMERSH bagpipers, the song David Niven is humming as he goes upstairs is "The Skye Boat Song", a traditional Scottish ballad about the escape of the insurgent leader Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Dr. Noah's name was a spoof of the name of the Bond villain Dr. No whilst the name of Miss Giovana Goodthighs was a parody of the Miss Mary Goodnight character, both from the Ian Fleming novels. These characters appeared in EON Productions' Dr. No and The Man with the Golden Gun, respectively.
Producer Charles K. Feldman originally intended to make the film as a co-production with official Bond series producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli. Saltzman and Broccoli had just co-produced the previous Bond film Thunderball with Kevin McClory, and did not want to do so again. United Artists supposedly offered Feldman $500,000 for the rights to "Casino Royale" in 1965 but the offer was rejected. Forced to produce the film on his own, Feldman approached Sean Connery to star as Bond. Unwilling to meet Connery's $1-million salary demand, Feldman decided to turn the film into a spoof, and cast David Niven as Bond instead. After the film went through numerous production problems and a spiraling budget, Feldman met Connery at a Hollywood party and reportedly told him it would have been cheaper to pay him the $1 million.
Ian Fleming received three offers for the film rights to his "Casino Royale" novel during 1954. Producer/director Gregory Ratoff bought the rights to the novel in May 1954 for $600. It was a six-month option and Ratoff took this to CBS, which produced it and broadcast it as a one hour-episode for Climax! (Climax!: Casino Royale]. CBS then purchased the rights to the novel for $1000. John Shepridge negotiated the sale of the film and television rights in 1954. Before the sale, the "Casino Royale" novel had not been successful, and was even retitled and Americanized for its paperback issue. Twelve months later, and after TV episode was broadcast, Ratoff bought "Casino Royale" outright in perpetuity for an additional $6000. Both sales, including the option and the buy-out, Fleming later said he regretted because he sold them so cheaply, but he needed the money at the time. With the money from the larger sale, Fleming bought a Ford Thunderbird at a cost of £3000. Ratoff passed away on 14 December 1960. In 1961 his widow sold the rights to producer Charles K. Feldman for $75,000, and instead of a straight James Bond film, Feldman shot Casino Royale as a James Bond parody. In 1999 Sony paid MGM $5 million to settle the $40-million lawsuit that MGM had brought against Sony over the Bond rights, due to Sony's intentions to remake "Casino Royale". Sony agreed to hand over all of its rights to the Bond character and "Casino Royale". In an ironic twist of fate, Sony bought MGM in 2005 and in 2006 released its own serious adaptation of the book, Casino Royale.
The only James Bond movie to date to feature two US Top 40 chart-toppers from the same James Bond movie. They were the "Casino Royale" Theme by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and "The Look of Love" by Dusty Springfield, with music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David. They went to No. #27 and No. #4, respectively, on the US Billboard Chart. The latter song was nominated for a Best Song Oscar.
According to writer Eric Lax, Woody Allen was astonished by what he viewed as extravagant spending on the film (for example, he was flown in and put up in an expensive hotel for several weeks doing nothing before they got around to shooting his scenes) and the chaotic production. He wrote to a friend, "The film will probably make a mint. Not money, but a single peppermint."
The film's original studio-approved budget was $6 million, a large sum for 1966. However, production problems resulted in the shoot running months over schedule, with an accompanying increase in costs. By the time the film was finally completed its original $6-million budget had more than doubled, making it one of the most expensive films made up to that time. The previous official Bond movie, Thunderball, had a budget of between $9-$11 million, while You Only Live Twice, which was released the same year as "Casino Royale", had a budget of $9.5-$11.5 million. The extremely high budget of "Casino Royale" caused it to earn a reputation as being "a mini Cleopatra", referring to the runaway and out-of-control costs of that infamous Elizabeth Taylor film, which almost bankrupted 20th Century-Fox.
Vehicles featured included James Bond's black supercharged Bentley Special 4.5 litre; Evelyn Tremble's black Lotus Formula 3 race car; a white Jaguar E roadster; a black Mercedes-Benz; Wrights Dairies light yellow Bedford milk delivery van; a Citroën police car; and a Golden three-wheeler.
The scenes with Woody Allen were shot in London. Producers delayed his final day of shooting so many times that out of frustration Allen left the set, went directly to Heathrow Airport and flew back to New York City without changing out of his costume.
In his first scene David Niven is seen bouncing up and down in a chair whose seat is fixed to what appear to be accordion bellows. This is a "chamber horse", a home exercise machine that was popular in 18th-century Britain.
Though this film is not part of the EON Productions official series, a number of compilation albums and CDs of James Bond film music actually often incorporate one or both of two tracks from this film, "The Look of Love" and "Casino Royale", in their compilations.
When Peter Sellers arrives at MI5 headquarters to be kitted out by Q, all the soldiers seen are from the Intelligence Corps. The peaked caps have cypress green bands: the Intelligence Corps only began to wear berets of this color as its regimental headdress in 1977. The soldier who knocks himself out when saluting is wearing the Intelligence Corps cap badge.
This movie was aired for the first time in Guatemala on the night of 3 February 1976, only hours before the devastating earthquake that rattled the country and killed thousands. The movie is known in Guatemala as "The Movie of the Night Before the Earthquake".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Casino Royale was Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel. It was the only one not sold to Eon Productions. As a result, CBS TV first adapted it for an episode of Climax! in 1954, starring Barry Nelson as CIA agent Jimmy Bond. When plans began to adapt the novel as a motion picture, the original thought was to do a straight film of the novel. But with the success of Sean Connery's Bond, it was decided the only way a rival Bond film could survive would be as a parody. The Peter Sellers sequence is the only part of Ian Fleming's novel to make it into the film. The confrontation with Le Chiffre in the casino, the plan to discredit Le Chiffre with SMERSH and the villain's execution by enemy agents are all in the novel. So is the notion of Bond writing a book on baccarat, and the element of Vesper being an enemy spy. The film was generally reported as a failure financially in the press because it was outperformed at the box office by the official Bond film You Only Live Twice, which was released in the same year, and because of the film's high costs. Despite its very high production budget and additional costs in marketing and advertising, it still managed to make a net profit of well over $5 million for the studio. Casino Royale was the 3rd highest grossing film for the year behind only The Jungle Book and You Only Live Twice.