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
Three years after this telemovie was broadcast by CBS, this company offered Ian Fleming a James Bond television series. The deal has been reported to have included either thirteen or thirty two episodes which were to have run over two years. Fleming had written between three to seven outlines for the series when CBS axed the project. Bond did not return to film until Dr. No (1962). The unused television scripts were turned into short stories and published in the James Bond books "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights" with little of the original plots in the movies that used those names. See more »
A prop gun went off accidentally right at the beginning of the show. Four shots are heard but only three gunshot markings are seen on the casino building. See more »
First Appearance of James Bond...on American TELEVISION!
When Ian Fleming published the first 007 novel, "Casino Royale", in 1952, he envisioned it as being made as a movie, and began 'selling' it to anyone who might be interested. He quickly struck a deal, but soon discovered that he'd made a bad bargain; once he'd relinquished the rights, not only did he lose any control over how it would be used, or where, but on any potential revenue from it, as well. He'd be far more cautious in future, but "Casino Royale" became the one 'Bond' title that Eon Productions wouldn't own...giving it a convoluted history that is worth a book on it's own!
American television, in the 1950s, was called the "Golden Age" of 'live' drama, in part because recording techniques were so primitive. Short of actually filming productions, which was costly and time-consuming, the only way of recording was on videotape's predecessor, which was grainy, dark, and really awful. As a result, much would be performed 'live', with the taping only made as a record of the airing.
A lot of plays, stories, and novels were edited into half-hour and hour-long television programs, and "Casino Royale" was adapted, by Charles Bennett and Anthony Ellis, for an episode of the "Climax!" TV series. Changing sophisticated British spy James Bond into American CIA operative "Card-Sense Jimmy Bond", the characters were toned (and in some cases DUMBED) down for American audiences (I think the writers thought the Yank idea of 'sophistication' was beer in a glass). Vesper Lynd became Valerie Mathis, CIA agent Felix Leiter became British agent Clarence(?) Leiter, etc. The villain's name remained 'Le Chiffre', although his method of torture (caning one's genitals in an open-seated rattan chair) was 'cleaned up'...
As Bond, veteran American actor Barry Nelson was smug, confident, and independent, preferring a 'lone hand' to outside interference. I met Nelson in the early 1990s, and asked if he remembered the production. He said he recalled little of it (as the production was 'live' and he was very busy in a variety of projects), but that, he recalled, Peter Lorre, as Le Chiffre, had trouble remembering his lines, and ad-libbed a lot.
Within television's limitations, the basic plot (of Bond beating an enemy agent at the gambling tables to prevent him from recouping 'lost' espionage funds) is pretty faithful to the novel (which was based on Fleming's own wartime experiences). Despite this, the production is stagy (with only two sets), rife with missed cues and flubs, and overripe performances. Lorre does make a good villain, however, certainly better than some of the later film ones! All in all, the production offers novelty value, and little else...
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