American Combined Intelligence Agency spy James Bond aka Jimmy Bond arrives at the Casino Royale in Monte Carlo, Monaco but is shot at whilst entering. He meets up with British Secret Service secret agent Clarence Leiter (this character was called Felix Leiter in the original Ian Fleming novel). He briefs Bond about his mission then Bond runs into old flame Valerie Mathis (she is an amalgam of the Vesper Lynd and Rene Mathis characters from the novel). She introduces him to Le Chiffre who is the Chief Soviet Agent in the area and is nearly always accompanied by three henchman called Basil, Zoltan and Zuroff. Le Chiffre has been gambling with the Soviet funds of his employers and he's down several million francs. Bond's mission is to beat him at a high-stakes card game of Baccarat so Le Chiffre will be ruined. Written by
Ian Fleming received three offers for the film rights to his "Casino Royale" novel during 1954. Producer and 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 whom produced and broadcast this one hour episode for Climax! (1954)[See: Climax!: Casino Royale (1954)]. CBS purchased the rights to the Ian Fleming 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. Fleming also needed money. Twelve months later, and after the TV screening, Ratoff bought "Casino Royale" outright in perpetuity for an additional $6000. Both sales including the option and the buy-out are considered to have been sold too cheaply and were two sales that Ian Fleming later regretted. With the money from the larger sale, Ian Fleming bought a Thunderbird car at the cost of £3000. Gregory Ratoff passed away on 14 December 1960. His widow in 1961 sold the rights to Charles K. Feldman for $75,000. Feldman would go on to make the James Bond parody, Casino Royale (1967) and it would not be made as an EON Productions film until Casino Royale (2006). See more »
Shadow of the boom mic is visible on the wall behind James Bond as he's explaining the rules of Baccarat to Leiter. See more »
[Picking up glass]
Have you ever seen Le Chiffre?
Go on explaining the game.
Well you each get two cards - the banker and the dealer. Picture cards and tens count as nothing. The other cards carry their own face value.
Le Chiffre is the toadlike creature playing at the table in there. He's the chief Soviet agent for this area controlled through Leningrad Section Three through Paris. And he's the most dangerous man they've ever had.
[...] See more »
Character name Leiter is misspelt as Letter in the closing credits. See more »
I don't think it was until the internet era that I found out an obscure trivia fact and that was the first media appearance of Ian Fleming's James Bond wasn't Sean Connery in DR NO but Barry Nelson in an American anthology series called CLIMAX which adapted CASINO ROYALE . We all know Bond is the most successful film franchise in history and we all recognise the icons , the babes , the exotic locations , the gadgets , the big set piece stunts etc of a franchise featuring a very British fictional hero . Now imagine a James Bond story without any of these icons . Worse than that imagine if he was an American character ? I do apologise I didn't mean to make you faint
Some people have said this live American TV production deserves some credit for at least sticking to the plot of the original novel which is not something you can say about the films that started going their own way even before the end of the 1960s . My own fascination watching this was entirely down to the opposite reason - it's Bond as film noir that shares nothing in common with the film series . Bond played by Nelson wears a tuxedo and smokes too much but that's the only link you'll recognise . Surviving a murder attempt in the opening scene a policeman refers to it by stating:
" They weren't after your winnings then ? "
" Yeah ? They weren't after my autograph either " And that's the closest we get to show stopping one liners as the entire action takes place in a couple of sets shot in a TV studio as Jimmy tries to beat Peter Lorre's villain in a card game
On its own this obscure TV drama come thriller would be totally forgotten if it wasn't for the fact that it's the first on screen appearance of someone playing Ian Fleming's James Bond . In comparison you can see why Bond became an instant legend in the 1960s with the exotic location filming and the sexy and charismatic Sean Connery playing the role with a hard edge . Not to be too dismissive of the 1954 version of CASINO ROYALE it's fascinating to see Bond done as essentially film noir
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