Casino Royale (1967 film)
British cinema poster for Casino Royale, illustrated by Robert McGinnis
|Directed by||Ken Hughes
Richard Talmadge (uncredited)
|Produced by||Charles K. Feldman
|Screenplay by||Wolf Mankowitz
|Based on||Casino Royale
by Ian Fleming
|Music by||Burt Bacharach|
|Cinematography||Jack Hildyard, BSC
Nicolas Roeg, BSC
John Wilcox, BSC
|Edited by||Bill Lenny|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||131 minutes|
|Box office||$41.7 million|
Casino Royale is a 1967 spy comedy film originally produced by Columbia Pictures starring an ensemble cast of directors and actors. It is loosely based on Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel. The film stars David Niven as the "original" Bond, Sir James Bond 007. Forced out of retirement to investigate the deaths and disappearances of international spies, he soon battles the mysterious Dr. Noah and SMERSH.The film's slogan: "Casino Royale is too much... for one James Bond!" refers to Bond's ruse to mislead SMERSH in which six other agents are pretending to be "James Bond", namely, Baccarat master Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers); millionaire spy Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress); Bond's secretary Miss Moneypenny (Barbara Bouchet); Bond's daughter with Mata Hari, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet); and British agents "Coop" (Terence Cooper) and "The Detainer" (Daliah Lavi).
Charles K. Feldman, the producer, had acquired the film rights in 1960 and had attempted to get Casino Royale made as an Eon Productions Bond film; however, Feldman and the producers of the Eon series, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, failed to come to terms. Believing that he could not compete with the Eon series, Feldman resolved to produce the film as a satire. The budget escalated as various directors and writers got involved in the production, and actors expressed dissatisfaction with the project. Casino Royale was released on 13 April 1967, two months prior to Eon's fifth Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. The film was a financial success, grossing over $41.7 million worldwide, and Burt Bacharach's musical score was praised, earning him an Academy Award nomination for the song "The Look of Love". But Casino Royale has had a generally negative reception among critics, some of whom regard it as a baffling, disorganised affair. Since 1999, the film's rights are held by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, distributors of the official Bond movies by Eon Productions.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Music
- 5 Release and reception
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Evelyn Tremble/James Bond 007 (Peter Sellers) and Inspector Mathis meet in a pissoir, where Mathis presents his credentials—in a shot suggesting a display of Mathis' genitals, and setting the tone of the film by satirising the dramatic opening sequences in the Eon Bond films.
Sir James Bond 007, a legendary British spy who retired from the secret service 20 years previously, is visited by the head of British MI6, M, CIA representative Ransome, KGB representative Smernov, and Deuxième Bureau representative Le Grand. All implore Bond to come out of retirement to deal with SMERSH who have been eliminating agents: Bond spurns all their pleas. When Bond continues to stand firm, his mansion is destroyed by a mortar attack at the orders of M, who is, however, killed in the explosion.
Bond travels to Scotland to return M's remains to the grieving widow, Lady Fiona McTarry. However, the real Lady Fiona has been replaced by SMERSH's Agent Mimi. The rest of the household have been likewise replaced, with SMERSH’s aim to discredit Bond by destroying his "celibate image". Attempts by a bevy of beauties to seduce Bond fail, but Mimi/Lady Fiona becomes so impressed with Bond that she changes loyalties and helps Bond to foil the plot against him. On his way back to London, Bond survives another attempt on his life.
Bond is promoted to the head of MI6. He learns that many British agents around the world have been eliminated by enemy spies because of their inability to resist sex. Bond is also told that the 'sex maniac' who was given the name of 'James Bond' when the original Bond retired has gone to work in television. He then orders that all remaining MI6 agents will be named "James Bond 007", to confuse SMERSH. He also creates a rigorous programme to train male agents to ignore the charms of women. Moneypenny recruits "Coop", a karate expert who begins training to resist seductive women: he also meets an exotic agent known as the Detainer.
Bond then hires Vesper Lynd, a retired agent turned millionaire, to recruit baccarat expert Evelyn Tremble, whom he intends to use to beat SMERSH agent Le Chiffre. Having embezzled SMERSH's money, Le Chiffre is desperate for money to cover up his theft before he is executed.
Following up a clue from agent Mimi, Bond persuades his estranged daughter Mata Bond to travel to East Berlin to infiltrate International Mothers' Help, a school for spies that is a SMERSH cover operation. Mata uncovers a plan to sell compromising photographs of military leaders from the US, USSR, China and Great Britain at an "art auction", another scheme Le Chiffre hopes to use to raise money: Mata destroys the photos. Le Chiffre's only remaining option is to raise the money by playing baccarat.
Tremble arrives at the Casino Royale accompanied by Lynd, who foils an attempt to disable him by seductive SMERSH agent Miss Goodthighs. Later that night, Tremble observes Le Chiffre playing at the casino and realises that he is using infrared sunglasses to cheat. Lynd steals the sunglasses, allowing Evelyn to eventually beat Le Chiffre in a game of baccarat. Lynd is apparently abducted outside the casino, and Tremble is also kidnapped while pursuing her. Le Chiffre, desperate for the winning cheque, hallucinogenically tortures Tremble. Lynd rescues Tremble, only to subsequently kill him. Meanwhile, SMERSH agents raid Le Chiffre's base and kill him for his failure.
In London, Mata Bond is kidnapped by SMERSH in a giant flying saucer, and Sir James and Moneypenny travel to Casino Royale to rescue her. They discover that the casino is located atop a giant underground headquarters run by the evil Dr. Noah, who turns out to be Sir James's nephew Jimmy Bond. Jimmy Bond secretly leaves the MI6 to defect to SMERSH to take a new role of killing spies. Jimmy reveals that he plans to use biological warfare to make all women beautiful and kill all men over 4-foot-6-inch (1.37 m) tall, leaving him as the "big man" who gets all the girls. Jimmy has already captured The Detainer, and he tries to convince her to be his partner; she agrees, but only to dupe him into swallowing one of his "atomic time pills", turning him into a "walking atomic bomb".
Sir James, Moneypenny, Mata and Coop manage to escape from their cell and fight their way back to the Casino Director's office where Sir James establishes Lynd is a double agent. The casino is then overrun by secret agents and a battle ensues. American and French support arrive, but just add to the chaos. Eventually, Jimmy's atomic pill explodes, destroying Casino Royale with everyone inside. Sir James and all of his agents then appear in heaven, and Jimmy Bond is shown descending to hell.
- David Niven as Sir James Bond – A legendary British secret agent forced out of retirement to fight SMERSH.
- Peter Sellers as Evelyn Tremble/James Bond 007 – A baccarat master recruited by Vesper Lynd to challenge Le Chiffre at Casino Royale.
- Ursula Andress as Vesper Lynd/007 – A retired British secret agent forced back into service in exchange for writing off her tax arrears.
- Orson Welles as Le Chiffre – SMERSH's financial agent, desperate to win at baccarat to repay the money he has embezzled from the organisation.
- Woody Allen as Dr. Noah/Jimmy Bond – Bond's nephew and head of SMERSH.
- Barbara Bouchet as Miss Moneypenny – The beautiful daughter of Bond's original Miss Moneypenny. She works for the service in the same position her mother had years before.
- Deborah Kerr as Agent Mimi/Lady Fiona McTarry – A SMERSH agent who masquerades as the widow of M but cannot help falling in love with Bond.
- Jacqueline Bisset (credited as Jacky Bisset) as Giovanna Goodthighs – A SMERSH agent who attempts to kill Evelyn Tremble at Casino Royale.
Also, as an extra who stands behind Le Chiffre at the casino.
- Joanna Pettet as Mata Bond – Bond's daughter, born of his love affair with Mata Hari.
- Daliah Lavi as The Detainer – A British secret agent who successfully poisons Dr. Noah with his own atomic pill.
- Terence Cooper as Coop – A British secret agent specifically chosen, and trained for this mission to resist the charms of women.
- Bernard Cribbins as Carlton Towers – A British Foreign Office official who drives Mata Bond all the way from London to Berlin in his taxi.
- Ronnie Corbett as Polo – A SMERSH agent at the International Mothers' Help who was in love with Mata Hari and expresses the same feelings for Mata Bond.
- Anna Quayle as Frau Hoffner – Frau Hoffner is Mata Hari's teacher, portrayed as a parody of Cesare in the German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (her school is modelled on the film's expressionist decor).
- John Huston as M/McTarry – Head of MI6 who dies from an explosion caused by his own bombardment of Bond's estate.
- William Holden as Ransome – A CIA agent who accompanies M to persuade Bond out of retirement, then reappears in the final climactic fight scene.
- Charles Boyer as LeGrand – A Deuxième Bureau agent who accompanies M and Ransom to see Bond.
Casino Royale also takes credit for the greatest number of actors in a Bond film either to have appeared or to go on to appear in the rest of the Eon series – besides Ursula Andress in Dr. No, Vladek Sheybal appeared as Kronsteen in From Russia with Love, Burt Kwouk featured as Mr. Ling in Goldfinger and an unnamed SPECTRE operative in You Only Live Twice, Jeanne Roland plays a masseuse in You Only Live Twice, and Angela Scoular appeared as Ruby Bartlett in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Jack Gwillim, who had a tiny role as a British army officer, played a Royal Navy officer in Thunderball. Caroline Munro, who can be seen very briefly as one of Dr Noah's gun-toting guards, received the role of Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me. Milton Reid, who appears in a bit part as the temple guard, opening the door to Mata Bond's hall, played one of Dr. No's guards and Stromberg's underling, Sandor, in The Spy Who Loved Me. John Hollis, who plays the temple priest in Mata Bond's hall, went on to play the unnamed figure clearly intended to be Blofeld in the pre-credits sequence of For Your Eyes Only. John Wells, Q's assistant, appeared in For Your Eyes Only as Denis Thatcher. Hal Galili, who appears briefly as a US army officer at the auction, had earlier played gangster Jack Strap in Goldfinger.
Major stars like George Raft and Jean Paul Belmondo were given top billing in the film's promotion and screen trailers despite the fact that they only appeared for a few minutes in the final scene.
Well established stars like Peter O'Toole and sporting legends like Stirling Moss were prepared to take uncredited parts in the film just to be able to work with the other members of the cast. Stunt director Richard Talmadge employed Geraldine Chaplin to appear in a brief Keystone Cops insert. The film also proved to be young Anjelica Huston's first experience in the film industry as she was called upon by her father, John Huston, to cover the screen shots of Deborah Kerr's hands. The film also marks the debut of Dave Prowse, later the physical form of Darth Vader in the Star Wars series, as Frankenstein's monster, a role he would later play again in the Hammer films The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. John Le Mesurier also features in the early scenes of the film as M's driver.
In March 1955 Ian Fleming sold the film rights of his novel Casino Royale, the first book featuring the character of James Bond, to producer Gregory Ratoff for $6,000 ($52,822 in 2014 dollars). In 1956 Ratoff set up a production company with Michael Garrison to produce a film adaptation, but wound up not finding financial backers until his death in December 1960. After Ratoff's death, producer Charles K. Feldman represented Ratoff's widow and obtained the Casino Royale rights. Albert R. Broccoli, who had a long time interest in adapting James Bond, offered to purchase the Casino Royale rights from Feldman, but he declined. Feldman and his director friend Howard Hawks had an interest in adapting Casino Royale, considering Leigh Brackett as a writer and Cary Grant as James Bond. They eventually gave up once they saw 1962's Dr. No, the first Bond adaptation made by Broccoli and partner Harry Saltzman through company Eon Productions.
By 1964, with Feldman having invested nearly $550,000 of his own money into pre-production of Casino Royale, he decided to try a deal with Eon Productions and its distributor United Artists. The attempt at a co-production eventually fell through as Feldman frequently argued with Broccoli and Saltzman, specially regarding the profit divisions and when the Casino Royale adaptation would start production. Feldman eventually decided to offer his project to Columbia Pictures through a script written by Ben Hecht, and the studio accepted. Given Eon's series led to a spy film craze at the time, Feldman opted to make his film a spoof of the Bond series instead of a straightforward adaptation.
Ben Hecht's contribution to the project, if not the final result, was in fact substantial. The Oscar-winning writer was recruited by Feldman to produce a screenplay for the film and wrote several drafts, with various evolutions of the story incorporating different scenes and characters. All of his treatments were "straight" adaptations, far closer to the original source novel than the spoof which the final production became. A draft from 1957 discovered in Hecht's papers – but which does not identify the screenwriter – is a direct adaptation of the novel, albeit with the Bond character absent, instead being replaced by a poker-playing American gangster.
Later drafts see vice made central to the plot, with the Le Chiffre character becoming head of a network of brothels (as he is in the novel) whose patrons are then blackmailed by Le Chiffre to fund Spectre (an invention of the screenwriter). 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 whilst disguised as a female mud wrestler. New characters appear such as Lili Wing, a brothel madam and former lover of Bond whose ultimate fate is to be crushed in the back of a garbage truck, and Gita, wife of Le Chiffre. The beautiful Gita, whose face and throat are hideously disfigured as a result of Bond using her as a shield during a gunfight in the same sequence which sees Wing meet her fate, goes on to become the prime protagonist in the torture scene that features in the book, a role originally Le Chiffre's.
Hecht never produced his final script though, dying of a heart attack two days before he was due to present it to Feldman in April 1964. Time reported in 1966 that the script had been completely re-written by Billy Wilder, and by the time the film reached production almost nothing of Hecht's screenplay remained. The one thing that did endure, and indeed became a key plot device of the finished film, was the idea of the name "James Bond" being given to a number of other agents. In the case of Hecht's version, this 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."
Peter Sellers hired Terry Southern to write his dialogue (and not the rest of the script) to "outshine" Orson Welles and Woody Allen.
The studio approved the film's production budget of $6 million, already quite a large budget in 1966. However, during filming the project ran into several problems and the shoot ran months over schedule, with the costs also running well over. When the film was finally completed it had run twice over its original budget. The final production budget of $12 million made it one of the most expensive films that had been made to that point. The previous Eon Bond film, Thunderball, had a budget of $11 million while You Only Live Twice, which was released the same year as Casino Royale, had a budget of $9.5 million. The extremely high budget of Casino Royale led to comparisons to a previous awry production, being referred as "a runaway mini-Cleopatra". Columbia at first announced the film was due to be released in time for Christmas 1966. The problems postponed the launch until April 1967.
The principal filming was carried out at Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios and Twickenham Studios in London. Extensive sequences also featured London, notably Trafalgar Square and the exterior of 10 Downing Street. Mereworth Castle in Kent was used as the home of Sir James Bond, which is blown up at the start of the film. Much of the filming for M's Scottish castle was actually done on location in County Meath, Ireland, with Killeen Castle, Dunsany, as the focus. However the car chase sequences where Bond leaves the castle were shot in the Perthshire village of Killin.
The production proved to be rather troubled, with five different directors helming different segments of the film, with stunt co-ordinator Richard Talmadge co-directing the final sequence. In addition to the credited writers, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, Val Guest, Ben Hecht, Joseph Heller, Terry Southern, and Billy Wilder are all believed to have contributed to the screenplay to varying degrees. Val Guest was given the responsibility of splicing the various "chapters" together, and was offered the unique title of "Co-ordinating Director" but declined, claiming the chaotic plot would not reflect well on him if he were so credited. His extra credit was labelled "Additional Sequences" instead.
The film is notable for the legendary behind-the-scenes drama involving the filming of the segments with Peter Sellers. Screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz declared that Sellers felt intimidated by Orson Welles to the extent that, except for a couple of shots, neither was in the studio simultaneously. Other versions of the legend depict the drama stemming from Sellers being slighted, in favour of Welles, by Princess Margaret (whom Sellers knew) during her visit to the set. Welles also insisted on performing magic tricks as Le Chiffre, and the director obliged. Director Val Guest wrote that Welles did not think much of Sellers, and had refused to work with "that amateur". Director Joseph McGrath, a personal friend of Sellers, got punched by the actor when he complained about Sellers' behavior on the set.
Some biographies of Sellers suggest that he took the role of Bond to heart, and was annoyed at the decision to make Casino Royale a comedy as he wanted to play Bond straight. This is illustrated in somewhat fictionalised form in the film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, based upon a biography by Roger Lewis, who claims 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 Welles. In the end, Sellers' involvement with the film was cut abruptly short.
Jean-Paul Belmondo and George Raft received major billing, even though both actors appear only briefly. Both appear during the climactic brawl at the end, Raft flipping his trademark coin and promptly shooting himself dead with a backwards-firing pistol, while Belmondo appears wearing a fake moustache as the French Foreign Legion officer who requires an English phrase book to translate 'merde!' into 'ooch!' during his fistfight. Raft's coin flip, which originally appeared in Scarface (1932), had been spoofed a few years earlier in Some Like It Hot (1959).
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.
- Director credits
Val Guest (additional sequences; scenes with Woody Allen and additional scenes with David Niven)
Ken Hughes (Berlin scenes)
John Huston (scenes at Sir James Bond's house and scenes at Scottish castle)
Joseph McGrath (scenes with Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress and Orson Welles)
Robert Parrish (some casino scenes with Peter Sellers and Orson Welles)
Richard Talmadge (uncredited as co-director of the final sequence)
Sellers left the production before all his scenes were shot, which is why Tremble is so abruptly captured in the film. Whether he was fired or simply walked off is unclear. Given that he often went absent for days at a time and was involved in conflicts with Welles, either explanation is plausible. Regardless, 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".
Signs of missing footage from the 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).
As well as this, 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.
So many sequences from the film ended on the cutting room floor that several well-known actors were cut from the film altogether, including Ian Hendry (as 006, the agent whose body is briefly seen being disposed of by Vesper), Mona Washbourne, and Arthur Mullard.
|Soundtrack album by Burt Bacharach, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass and Dusty Springfield|
For the music, Feldman decided to bring Burt Bacharach, who had done the score for his previous production What's New Pussycat?. Bacharach worked over two years writing for Casino Royale, in the meantime composing the After the Fox score and being forced to decline participation in Luv. Lyricist Hal David contributed with various songs, many of which appeared in just instrumental versions. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass performed some of the songs with Mike Redway singing the lyrics to the title song as the end credits rolled (a version of the song was also sung by Peter Sellers). The title theme was Alpert's second number one on the Easy Listening chart where it spent two weeks at the top in June 1967 and peaked at number twenty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100.
The 4th chapter of the film features the song "The Look of Love" performed by Dusty Springfield. It is played in the scene of Vesper Lynd recruiting Evelyn Tremble, seen through a man-size aquarium in a seductive walk. "The Look of Love" was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song. The song was a Top 10 radio hit at the KGB and KHJ radio stations. A year later a version by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66 reached No. 4 of Billboard Hot 100. Springfield's version was heard again in the first Austin Powers film, which was to a degree inspired by Casino Royale. The German version of the film, however, features a German adaptation of "The Look of Love" sung by Mireille Mathieu. To make room for her credit in the film titles, the credit for Jean-Paul Belmondo was removed in the German-language version.
The original album cover art was done by Robert McGinnis, based on the film poster and the original stereo vinyl release of the soundtrack (Colgems #COSO-5005) is still highly sought after by audiophiles. It has been regarded by some music critics as the finest-sounding LP of all time. The original LP was later issued by Varèse Sarabande in the same track order as shown below:
- "Casino Royale Theme" – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
- "The Look of Love" – Dusty Springfield
- "Money Penny Goes for Broke"
- "Le Chiffre's Torture of the Mind"
- "Home James, Don't Spare the Horses"
- "Sir James' Trip to Find Mata"
- "The Look of Love" (Instrumental)
- "Hi There Miss Goodthighs"
- "Little French Boy"
- "Flying Saucer – First Stop Berlin"
- "The Venerable Sir James Bond"
- "Dream on James, You're Winning"
- "The Big Cowboys and Indians Fight at Casino Royale" / "Casino Royale Theme" (reprise)
Track 5, "Home James...", heard in the film during the brawl at the military auction and Carlton Towers's and Mata Bond's subsequent escape, was re-arranged as "Bond Street", appearing on Bacharach's album Reach Out and on a 45. "Bond Street" itself has since appeared on the early-1990s easy listening compilation CD, This Is Easy. Additionally the second half of track 10, "Flying Saucer – First Stop Berlin", was reworked with vocals as "Let the Love Come Through" by orchestra leader and arranger Roland Shaw, and featured on his 1967 Bond covers album More James Bond in Action, as well as the 1996 easy listening compilation Inflight Entertainment.
One cut conspicuously absent from the earlier soundtrack issues is the vocal version of the title song, heard over the end credits and sung by Mike Redway, which was originally released as a UK 45 under the title "Have No Fear, Bond Is Here" on the Deram label in April 1967. The album merely replays the instrumental opening theme in the last track.
However, in 2010, Kritzerland Records issued a remastered version of the soundtrack. This limited edition of 1,000 units presented the original album tracks in two parts. The first part used what survived of the original album masters (as they had suffered wear over the intervening decades, and the remainder of the score was unavailable for use on the reissue), was digitally and sonically restored using current technology, and was re-edited so as the music is presented in the order they appeared in the film. Some previously unreleased brief cues were added to this mix, including the aforementioned vocal version of the end title music. The second part was presented in the original LP order, and to address the issue of the sound quality of vinyl, part two was remastered directly from pristine vinyl copies of the LP.
Then, two years later, Quartet Records issued a new 2-CD version of the soundtrack, with one disc presenting, for the first time, the complete score in sequential order (as taken from the original mono music stems archived at MGM), followed on the second disc by a newly remastered version of the album presentation as taken from first-generation masters provided by Sony Music.
Release and reception
Casino Royale had its world premiere in London's Odeon Leicester Square on April 13, 1967, breaking many opening records in the theatre's history. Its American premiere was held in New York on April 28, at the Capitol and Cinema I theatres. It opened two months prior to the fifth Bond film by Eon Productions, You Only Live Twice.
Box office and marketing
Despite the lukewarm nature of the contemporary reviews, the pull of the James Bond name was sufficient to make it the thirteenth highest grossing film in North America in 1967 with a gross of $22.7 million and a worldwide total of $41.7 million ($295 million in 2014 dollars).[a] Orson Welles attributed the success of the film to a marketing strategy that featured a naked tattooed lady on the film's posters and print ads. The campaign also included a series of commercials featuring British model Twiggy.
No advance press screenings of Casino Royale were held, leading reviews to only appear after the premiere. The "chaotic" nature of the production was featured heavily in contemporary reviews, while later reviewers have sometimes been kinder towards this. Roger Ebert said "This is possibly the most indulgent film ever made," Time described Casino Royale as "an incoherent and vulgar vaudeville", and Variety declared the film to be "a conglomeration of frenzied situations, ‘in’ gags and special effects, lacking discipline and cohesion." Bosley Crowther of The New York Times had some positive statements about the film, considering Casino Royale had "more of the talent agent than the secret agent" and praising the "fast start" and the scenes up to the baccarat game between Bond and Le Chiffre. Afterwards Crowther felt the script became tiresome, repetitive and filled with clichés due to "wild and haphazard injections of 'in' jokes and outlandish gags", leading to an excessive length that made the film a "reckless, disconnected nonsense that could be telescoped or stopped at any point".
Since its release the film has been widely criticised by a number of people. The film currently holds a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews with the consensus stating: "A goofy, dated parody of spy movie cliches, Casino Royale squanders its all-star cast on a meandering, mostly laugh-free script." For instance, Simon Winder called Casino Royale "a pitiful spoof", while Robert Druce described it as "an abstraction of real life". In his review of the film, Leonard Maltin remarked, "Money, money everywhere, but [the] film is terribly uneven – sometimes funny, often not."
Some later reviewers have been more impressed by the film. Andrea LeVasseur, in the AllMovie review, called it "the original ultimate spy spoof", and opined that the "nearly impossible to follow" plot made it "a satire to the highest degree". Further describing it as a "hideous, zany disaster" LeVasseur concluded that it was "a psychedelic, absurd masterpiece". Cinema historian Robert von Dassanowsky has written an article on the artistic merits of the film and says "like Casablanca, Casino Royale is a film of momentary vision, collaboration, adaption, pastiche, and accident. It is the anti-auteur work of all time, a film shaped by the very zeitgeist it took on." Romano Tozzi complimented the acting and humour, although he also mentioned that the film has several dull stretches.
Writing in 1986, Danny Peary noted, "It's hard to believe that in 1967 we actually waited in anticipation for this so-called James Bond spoof. It was a disappointment then; it's a curio today, but just as hard to get through." Peary described the film as being "disjointed and stylistically erratic" and "a testament to wastefulness in the bigger-is-better cinema," before adding, "It would have been a good idea to cut the picture drastically, perhaps down to the scenes featuring Peter Sellers and Woody Allen. In fact, I recommend you see it on television when it's in a two-hour (including commercials) slot. Then you won't expect it to make any sense."
Home video and film rights
Columbia Pictures released Casino Royale on VHS in 1989, and on Laserdisc in 1994. In 1997, following the Columbia/MGM/Kevin McClory lawsuit on ownership of the Bond film series, the rights to the film reverted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (whose sister company United Artists co-owns the Bond film franchise) as a condition of the settlement. MGM then issued the first DVD release of Casino Royale in 2002, followed by a 40th anniversary special edition in 2008.
Years later, as a result of the Sony/Comcast acquisition of MGM, Columbia would once again become responsible for the co-distribution of this 1967 version as well as the entire Eon Bond series, including the 2006 adaptation of Casino Royale. However, MGM Home Entertainment changed its distributor to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in May 2006. Though Sony initially released the 2006 adaptation on home video, MGM and 20th Century Fox released new versions of both this film and the 2006 adaptation on Blu-ray Disc in 2012 with Danjaq LLC, Eon's holding company, shown as one of its present copyright owners.
Alongside six other MGM-owned films, the studio posted Casino Royale on YouTube.
- Guest, Val. So you want to be in Pictures, Reynolds & Hearn, 2001, ISBN 1-903111-15-3
- DVD audio commentary, Region 1, with film historians Steven Jay Rubin and John Cork. Bisset, after playing the casino extra in early footage, was cast again as Miss Goodthighs.
- "The Girls of Casino Royale". Playboy., February 1967
- McFarlane, Brian (2005). The Encyclopedia of British Film. Methuen Publishing. p. 412. ISBN 978-0-413-77526-9.
- Benson 1988, p. 11.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- Duns, Jeremy (2 March 2011). "Casino Royale: discovering the lost script". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Barnes & Hearn 2001, p. 56.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Casino Royale (1967 film).|
- Casino Royale at the Internet Movie Database
- Casino Royale at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
- "Casino royale" (complete dialogue).
- "Casino royale, 1967". "Agony booth" (film recap).
- "Literature on Casino Royale". "Film". Virtual history.
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