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
In an interview with Starlog Magazine in October 1983, Barry Nelson said: "So they went through and cut three words here, a line there, a half-a-word here, and their script ended up looking like a bad case of tic-tac-toe. I tell you it was so frightening that when I entered my only thought was, 'Oh, God, if I can only get out of this mother!'. I was very dissatisfied with the part, I thought they wrote it poorly. No charm or character or anything." Peter Lorre played arch-villain Le Chiffre and acted opposite a worried Nelson. Due to the last minute script-changes, apparently Lorre said to the panic-stricken Nelson, "Straighten up, Barry, so I can kill you!". 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 »
[Tortured and lying in bathtub. Le Chiffre, Basil and Valerie in bathroom]
[to James Bond]
All right. All right
[Motions to Basil to leave bathroom and points at James Bond]
Have it your way then Mr Bond. We have searched your rooms now we're gonna take them apart
[Moves to leave bathroom then stops]
And if I don't find it, we'll take you apart
[Looking at Valerie]
Both of you.
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Character name Leiter is misspelt as Letter in the closing credits. See more »
I enjoy this movie, but that is partly because I just have a weakness for early television mysteries.
Early TV movie adaptation of 'Casino Royale' has the low key feeling of the original novel. The low budget both helps the movie and hinders it: it gives it the grittier look that some of the Bond novels have, and also makes it look slightly like a film noir, but also limits it in term of sets and props and lighting (which is often times visible over the actors' heads.) The short run time is also a mixed bag: the film doesn't overstay its welcome, and follows the book fairly closely, (the original novel was so short that it seems almost like a pamphlet, rather than a full length novel) but it doesn't give much opportunity to flesh out the characters at all.
Peter Lorre is good as LeChiffre, and Michael Pate as Leiter (or "Letter" as he's listed in the end credits) is very likable, and perhaps would have made a better choice to play Bond here, but Barry Nelson was mediocre. If he would have been more familiar with the character and not been doing a Humphrey Bogart impersonation, he might have been good. He does fairly well when he's intensely grilling Valerie Mathis about the microphone LeChiffre planted in Bond's room, and he's adequate in the casino sequences, but falls flat during the climactic scenes.
This TV-movie is also marred by the fact that the love interest between Bond and the lead girl is almost completely overlooked here, as is Bond's contemplation of resignation and his subsequent double-cross by the girl; basically the entire fourth(!) act of the novel was omitted here. Maybe if it would have had a longer running time, and if the censors would have allowed it, they could have fleshed out some of these omitted story elements?
One of the villain's henchmen has a cane which doubles as a gun, which is a good touch; this particular scene follows the book closely, and is one of the better scenes in this film.
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