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 the other actor.
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 had known her previously 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.
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.
Woody Allen's scenes 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.
Back in 1962, Ian Fleming had already decided on David Niven for the role of James Bond in Dr. No (1962). He was cross when Sean Connery was chosen, but was apparently so impressed with the way Connery portrayed Bond that he gave the character Scottish ancestry.
The film's original studio-approved budget was $6 million, a large sum for 1966. Production problems resulted in the shoot running months over schedule. By the time the film was finally completed, the budget had more than doubled, making it one of the most expensive films made up to that time. The previous official Bond movie, Thunderball (1965), had a budget of $9-$11 million. You Only Live Twice (1967), released the same year, had a budget of $9.5-$11.5 million. The film got a reputation as "a mini Cleopatra (1963)", referring to the out-of-control costs of the film that almost bankrupted 20th Century-Fox.
Some biographies of Peter Sellers suggest that he took the role of Bond to heart, and was annoyed at the decision to make the film a comedy as he wanted to play Bond straight. This is illustrated in somewhat fictionalised form in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004), based on the biography by Roger Lewis, who has claimed that Sellers kept re-writing and improvising scenes himself to make them play seriously. This story is in agreement with the observation that the only parts of the film close to the book are the ones featuring Sellers and Orson Welles.
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. In a letter to friend, he described the production as "a madhouse. I haven't begun filming yet but saw the sets for my scenes. They are the height of bad pop art expensive vulgarity. Saw rushes and am dubious to put it mildly, but probably film will coin a mint. (Not money, just a single peppermint.) I play the villain (okay to give that out) and also James Bond's bastard nephew (not all right to give that out) and my part changes every day as new stars fall in....I would like it emphasized and made quite clear that I am not a writer of Casino. I'm adding a few ad-lib jokes to my own part but that's all. In fact...we demanded a letter saying my name cannot appear on screen as writer. This because everyone who contributed a comma is demanding his name on the film and the writers' list looks like Terry Southern, Ben Hecht, Michael Sayers, Frank Buxton, Mickey Rose, Peter Sellers, Val Guest, Wolf Mankowitz, etc."
For the scene in which she was supposed to seduce James Bond wearing a nightgown and suggestively cradling a big bottle of champagne in her arms, Jacqueline Bisset was shocked when Peter Sellers suddenly turned on her and fired a gun directly into her face when she entered the room. Though the gun only had blanks, the stunt left her face coated in burning gunpowder and bleeding from where the shards tore her skin. "First I thought I had been actually shot and then when I realized it had been a blank, I thought I'd been blinded. My face looked like a shower spout of pinpricks leaking blood," said Bisset. The noise scared Bisset so much, she dropped the champagne bottle on her feet. After that, "I was panicked whenever I had a scene with Peter Sellers," said Bisset. "To get shot in your first scene with a big star, that is a nightmare."
In his first scene, David Niven bounces up and down in a chair whose seat is fixed to what appear to be accordion bellows. It's a "chamber horse", a home exercise machine popular in 18th-century Britain.
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.
Though the movie has little in common with the original Ian Fleming James Bond novel, a tie-in book was released, complete with the film's tattooed girl movie poster on the cover. The tagline 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."
Peter Sellers was unavailable for the filming of an ending and of linking footage to explain the details, leaving the filmmakers to devise a way to make the existing footage work without him. The framing device of a beginning and ending with David Niven was invented to salvage the footage. Val Guest indicated that he was given the task of creating a narrative thread which would link all segments of the film. He chose to use the original Bond and Vesper as linking characters to tie the story together. Guest states that in the originally released versions of the film, a cardboard cutout of Sellers in the background was used for the final scenes. In later versions, this cardboard cutout image was replaced by a sequence showing Sellers in highland dress, inserted by "trick photography".
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, with Sean Connery as James Bond and Shirley MacLaine as Vesper Lynd. Saltzman and Broccoli had just co-produced Thunderball (1965) with Kevin McClory, and didn't want to do it 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 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. After the film went through numerous production problems and an exploding budget, Feldman met Connery at a Hollywood party and reportedly told Connery it would've been cheaper to pay him the $1 million.
Dr. Noah's name was a spoof of the name of the Bond villain Dr. No, and the name of Miss Giovana Goodthighs was a parody of the Miss Mary Goodnight character, both from Ian Fleming novels. These characters appeared in EON Productions' Dr. No (1962) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), respectively.
At the Intercon science fiction convention held in Slough in 1978, David Prowse commented on his part in this film, apparently his big-screen debut. He claimed that he was originally asked to play "Super Pooh", a giant Winnie The Pooh in a superhero costume who attacks Tremble during the Torture of The Mind sequence. This idea, as with many others in the film's script, was rapidly dropped, and Prowse was re-cast as a Frankenstein-type Monster for the closing scenes. The final sequence was principally directed by former actor and stuntman Richard Talmadge.
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 glorious retreat of the failed insurgent leader Bonnie Prince Charlie.
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.
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 (1987) later made use of Smiert Spionam as a plot device.
Ian Fleming received three offers for the film rights to his "Casino Royale" novel in 1954. Producer/director Gregory Ratoff bought a six-month option to the rights in May 1954 for $600. Ratoff took it to CBS, which produced it and broadcast it as Climax!: Casino Royale (1954). CBS then purchased the rights for $1,000. John Shepridge negotiated the sale of the film and television rights in 1954. Before the sale, the novel had not been successful, and was retitled and Americanized for its paperback issue. Twelve months later, after the TV episode, Ratoff bought "Casino Royale" outright in perpetuity for an additional $6,000. Fleming later said he regretted both sales 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 for £3,000. Ratoff died on December 14, 1960. In 1961 his widow sold the rights to Charles K. Feldman for $75,000. Instead of a straight James Bond film, Feldman shot it as a parody. In 1999, Sony paid MGM $5 million to settle a $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. In 2006, they released their own serious adaptation, Casino Royale (2006).
Prior to the release of Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The Times did a dedication of its newspaper for an entire week to the world of 007. This was the only film to be given a bad billing. Opinion was divided as whether the best mistake was "the producers for funding it or the audience turning up to see it!"
When Peter Sellers arrives at MI5 headquarters to be kitted out by Q, all of the soldiers are from the Intelligence Corps; the peaked caps have cypress green bands. The Intelligence Corps began to wear cypress green berets as regimental headdress in 1977. The soldier who knocks himself out when saluting is wearing the Intelligence Corps cap badge.
After the film proceeded to become a flop at the box office, Joseph McGrath was approached by some of the producers of the movie, who told him that whilst they didn't blame him for all the tension and problems which occurred during filming, they made it clear that they never wanted to work with that b****** Sellers ever again.
Ironically, the film's underlying plot device of the "original" Sir James Bond (David Niven) having multiple newer namesakes to confuse SMERSH, SPECTRE, etc, within fan theory, could be seen to be actually a legitimate explanation of why the official James Bond canon has lasted some many decades with him looking so different. Especially with Judi Dench's M, clearly working with 2 men called "James Bond". Sean Connery's "original" official version of Bond could easily be retro-fitted as Sir James Bond, "passing on" his Bond persona to whomever replaces Daniel Craig, for example.
Vehicles featured included: James Bond's black supercharged Bentley Special 4.5 litre, Evelyn Tremble's black Lotus Formula 3 race car, a yellow Jaguar E roadster, a black Mercedes-Benz, Wrights Dairies white Bedford milk delivery van, a Citroën police car, and a Golden three-wheeler.
Woody Allen spent his time off the set playing high-stakes poker, using his winnings to buy German Expressionist art (including an Emil Nolde watercolor and a drawing by Oska Kokoschka) and hard-to-find jazz records.
Virtually nothing from Ben Hecht's scripts were ever filmed. He died from a heart attack in April 1964, two days before he was due to present it to Charles Feldman. Time reported in 1966 that the script had been completely re-written by Billy Wilder, and by the time the film reached production only the idea that the name James Bond should be given to a number of other agents remained. This key plot device in the finished film, in the case of Hecht's version, occurs after the demise of the original James Bond (an event which happened prior to the beginning of his story) which, as Hecht's M puts it "not only perpetuates his memory, but confuses the opposition."
An entire sequence involving Tremble going to the front for the underground James Bond Training School (which turns out to be under Harrods, of which the training area was the lowest level) was never shot, thus creating an abrupt cut from Vesper announcing that Tremble will be James Bond to Tremble exiting the elevator into the Training School.
When Mata Bond swings into action, the background music is "Bond Street" also scored by this film's composer, Burt Bacharach. The real Bond Street can be seen in the later James Bond movie, Octopussy (1983).
Known to have officially used 3 of Britain's then 4 biggest movie studio complexes - various sequences used Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios, and/or the huge soundstages and standing set streetscapes on the backlot of the (since demolished) MGM-British Studios, close to the then 4th major studio facility, the officially unused ABPC/EMI's Elstree Studios in Borehamwood.
In later drafts, vice is made central to the plot, with Le Chiffre becoming head of a network of brothels (as is in the novel) whose patrons are then blackmailed by Le Chiffre to fund Spectre. The racy plot elements opened up by this change of background include a chase scene through Hamburg's red light district that results in Bond escaping while disguised as a female mud wrestler. New characters appear such as Lili Wing, a brothel madam and Bond's ex-lover, and Gita, wife of Le Chiffre. Gita goes on to become the prime protagonist in the torture scene that features in the book, a role originally Le Chiffre's.
As Woody Allen is being dragged before a firing squad, he shouts "You can't shoot me... my doctor says I'm not allowed to have bullets enter my body". In Love and Death (1975), when a character challenges him to a duel "to the death", he replies "I never do anything to the death, doctor's orders." (Allen is known to have adlibbed several lines in Casino Royale.)
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
"Casino Royale" was Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, and the only one not sold to Eon Productions. When plans began to adapt the novel as a motion picture, the original thought was to do a straight film of the novel. However, 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 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, the villain's execution by enemy agents, the notion of Bond writing a book on baccarat, and Vesper as an enemy spy are all in the novel. The film was generally reported as a financial failure because the official Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), which was released in the same year, outperformed it at the box office. Despite its very high production budget and additional marketing and advertising costs, it still made a net profit of well over $5 million. It was the third highest grossing film of the year, behind The Jungle Book (1967) and You Only Live Twice (1967).
Signs of missing footage from the Peter Sellers segments are evident at various points. Evelyn Tremble is not captured on camera; an outtake of Sellers entering a racing car was substituted. In this outtake, Sellers calls for the car, à la Pink Panther, to chase down Vesper and her kidnappers; the next thing that is shown is Tremble being tortured. Out-takes of Sellers were also used for Tremble's dream sequence (pretending to play the piano on Ursula Andress' torso), in the finale (blowing out the candles whilst in highland dress) and at the end of the film when all the various "James Bond doubles" are together. In the kidnap sequence, Tremble's death is also very abruptly inserted; it consists of pre-existing footage of Sellers being rescued by Vesper, followed by a later-filmed shot of her abruptly deciding to shoot Tremble, followed by a freeze-frame over some of the previous footage of her surrounded by bodies (noticeably a zoom-in on the previous shot).