Casino Royale


2h 11m 1967
Casino Royale

Brief Synopsis

A retired James Bond goes back into action to infiltrate a nest of enemy spies.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Action
Adventure
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Apr 1967
Production Company
Famous Artists Productions
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the novel Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (London, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 11m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

The original James Bond (007) retired following his star-crossed love affair with Mata Hari and watched with disdain as his gimmick-laden imitators sullied his name. But as the international crime organization known as SMERSH threatens world domination, he agrees to come out of retirement. After his longtime superior McTarry ("M") is killed, Bond goes to Scotland to console McTarry's widow, Lady Fiona, unaware that the woman he encounters is actually a SMERSH agent. Bond's charms are such, however, that Lady Fiona gives up her life of espionage and retires to a convent when Bond declines her offer of love. To outwit his enemy, Bond decides there should be more than one 007 agent. He enlists the services of Vesper Lynd, the world's richest and most seductive spy; Evelyn Tremble, the inventor of a foolproof gambling system; Cooper, a strong-arm agent trained to resist women; and Bond's own daughter, Mata Bond. While Mata is outwitting SMERSH in Berlin, Bond sends Tremble and Vesper to the famed Casino Royale, and there SMERSH agent Le Chiffre is attempting to replenish his organization's finances by playing baccarat. Although Tremble defeats Le Chiffre at the gaming tables, Vesper is kidnaped as they leave. In pursuit, Tremble is captured, tortured, and eventually shot. Mata is also abducted and carried off in a flying saucer. SMERSH begins to get the upper hand, and Bond swings into action. Upon learning that the casino is merely a front and that SMERSH is headed by his own fiendish nephew, Jimmy Bond, Sir James utilizes the charms of The Detainer (another 007) to induce Jimmy to swallow an explosive capsule. Bond then calls for his allies--the French Foreign Legion, tribes of American Indians, the U. S. Cavalry, United Nations paratroopers, and the Keystone Cops--to invade the casino. During the ensuing melee, Bond makes a strategic exit as Jimmy's internal bomb goes off and the casino and its occupants are blown up.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Action
Adventure
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Apr 1967
Production Company
Famous Artists Productions
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the novel Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (London, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 11m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Song

1967

Articles

Casino Royale


At the height of the James Bond craze in the mid-sixties, the studio executives at Columbia Pictures desperately wanted to capitalize on the 007 phenomenon, but Harry Saltman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli (who had a distribution deal with United Artists) owned the rights to every Ian Fleming novel except one - Casino Royale, which had been acquired by producer Charles K. Feldman. A deal was struck to create the biggest James Bond extravaganza of all time, but the resulting film was something else entirely - a wildly uneven parody that required the services of five directors, countless screenwriters, and a cast of international actors and celebrities, many of them reduced to fleeting cameo appearances. In terms of its immense cost and production delays, Casino Royale (1967) was the Heaven's Gate (1980) of its era and critics savaged the film mercilessly when it was released. Yet surprisingly, Casino Royale was a big box-office hit and it's not hard to find passionate fans of the film due to its oddball and chaotic structure; it's closer to a sixties "happening" than a major studio release. After all, what's not to like about a film that features a Burt Bacharach score performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Dusty Springfield singing "The Look of Love" while Ursula Andress seduces Peter Sellers, Woody Allen in one of his first screen roles as the megalomaniac Dr. Noah (billed as "the tallest dwarf in the world"), lavish special effects, and groovy art direction with all the psychedelic trappings?

On the screen, Casino Royale looks like one big swinging party, but it was an entirely different story behind the scenes. The trouble started when producer Feldman found out after he bought the rights to the book that all he really owned was the title. According to co-director Val Guest in Woody: Movies from Manhattan by Julian Fox, "the rival Bond producers, Salzman and Broccoli, had already used everything in the book except the baccarat game, so the whole thing had to be structured around that." Sean Connery and Shirley MacLaine were first considered for starring roles while Bryan Forbes and Clive Donner were both in the running to helm the project. None of this panned out so Feldman decided to hire several directors for the project (John Huston was among them) with David Niven (Ian Fleming's original choice for the 007 role) playing the role of Sir James Bond. The basic plot has Bond being recalled to active duty in Scotland where he encounters the widow of a colleague (Deborah Kerr) now working for the evil SMERSH empire. The British Secret Service decides to confuse their enemy by creating a number of Bond decoys, one of whom is a cardshark (Peter Sellers) who takes on the villainous Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) in a marathon baccarat game.

Feldman was particularly excited about the casting coup of Peter Sellers in the role of Evelyn Tremble, even though he had been warned against hiring him by several industry insiders who knew the actor could be extremely tempermental. Sellers, who was at the height of his career thanks to the critically acclaimed Dr. Strangelove (1964) and the box-office successes of The Pink Panther (1964), A Shot in the Dark (1964) and What's New, Pussycat? (1965), turned out to be a total nightmare on the set. Despite a recent heart attack, he insisted on subjecting himself to a rigorous course of body-building exercises and running; he even devised a special catlike walk for his character. But his professional dedication soon gave way to unpredictable mood swings and violent tantrums; he fought constantly with director Joe McGrath (a personal friend he insisted be hired for the film) and, at one point, their anger erupted into a slugging match.

Sellers' superstitious nature also dictated his decisions; he demanded that an enormously expensive set be destroyed prior to its use because he had a nightmare about it in which his mother said she didn't like it. Worst of all, he developed an irrational fear about his co-star Orson Welles and refused to appear in scenes with him. In Peter Sellers: The Authorized Biography by Alexander Walker, Joe McGrath said, "This was my first film in Panavision, the letter-box-shaped screen. You could hold a hundred yards of the set in the lens. We had seven hundred extras for the gaming tables sequences, but we had no way of bringing our two stars together in the same shot!." But the problems persisted - including Sellers' three-week disappearance while 2,000 extras waited - until the actor suddenly quit, throwing Feldman into a panic. At first, there were rumors that drag star Danny La Rue was being brought in as Sellers' replacement. Instead, Feldman flooded the film with a multitude of faux-Bond characters in an effort to lessen Sellers' importance in the plot. Joanna Pettit's role as Mata Hara was also built up and so was Woody Allen's as Jimmy Bond/Dr. Noah.

But for Woody Allen, Casino Royale was simply a job with an attractive salary. He would spend his time off the set playing high-stakes poker, using his winnings to buy German Expressionist art (an Emil Nolde watercolor, a drawing by Oska Kokoschka) or purchase hard-to-find jazz records for his personal collection. In Woody Allen: A Biography by Eric Lax, the actor/writer/director confessed (in a letter to a friend) that Casino Royale "is 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."

By the end, the budget of Casino Royale had swollen from its initial cost of $12 million to more than twice that amount. And no wonder the costs were high considering the extensive locations included Paris, the South of France, West Berlin, Ireland, and the Pinewood and MGM-British studios in England. The mammoth slapstick climax alone - featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo as a French Legionnaire, George Raft as himself, and countless famous faces - cost $1 million and took two months to shoot! Yet, despite the film's troubled production history, there is fun to be had amid the insanity - everything from Scottish comedian Ronnie Corbett as a robot with a German accent to the lovely Jacqueline Bisset as Miss Goodthighs. So, if you want to experience the sixties - Hollywood-style - this is the ultimate pit stop.

Producer: Jerry Bresler, John Dark, Charles K. Feldman
Director: Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish
Screenplay: Wolf Mankowitz, John Law, Michael Sayers, based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Cinematography: Jack Hildyard
Editing: Bill Lenny
Music: Burt Bacharach
Art Direction: Ivor Beddoes, Lionel Couch, John Howell
Cast: Peter Sellers (Evelyn Tremble), Ursula Andress (Vesper Lynd), David Niven (Sir James Bond), Orson Welles (Le Chiffre), Joanna Pettet (Mata Bond), Daliah Lavi (The Detainer), Woody Allen (Jimmy Bond/Dr. Noah), Deborah Kerr (Agent Mimi aka Lady Fiona McTarry), William Holden (Ransome), Kurt Kasznar (Smernov), Barbara Bouchet (Moneypenny), John Huston (McTarry), Anna Quayle (Frau Hoffner), Peter O'Toole (Piper).
C-132m. Letterboxed.

by Jeff Stafford
Casino Royale

Casino Royale

At the height of the James Bond craze in the mid-sixties, the studio executives at Columbia Pictures desperately wanted to capitalize on the 007 phenomenon, but Harry Saltman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli (who had a distribution deal with United Artists) owned the rights to every Ian Fleming novel except one - Casino Royale, which had been acquired by producer Charles K. Feldman. A deal was struck to create the biggest James Bond extravaganza of all time, but the resulting film was something else entirely - a wildly uneven parody that required the services of five directors, countless screenwriters, and a cast of international actors and celebrities, many of them reduced to fleeting cameo appearances. In terms of its immense cost and production delays, Casino Royale (1967) was the Heaven's Gate (1980) of its era and critics savaged the film mercilessly when it was released. Yet surprisingly, Casino Royale was a big box-office hit and it's not hard to find passionate fans of the film due to its oddball and chaotic structure; it's closer to a sixties "happening" than a major studio release. After all, what's not to like about a film that features a Burt Bacharach score performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Dusty Springfield singing "The Look of Love" while Ursula Andress seduces Peter Sellers, Woody Allen in one of his first screen roles as the megalomaniac Dr. Noah (billed as "the tallest dwarf in the world"), lavish special effects, and groovy art direction with all the psychedelic trappings? On the screen, Casino Royale looks like one big swinging party, but it was an entirely different story behind the scenes. The trouble started when producer Feldman found out after he bought the rights to the book that all he really owned was the title. According to co-director Val Guest in Woody: Movies from Manhattan by Julian Fox, "the rival Bond producers, Salzman and Broccoli, had already used everything in the book except the baccarat game, so the whole thing had to be structured around that." Sean Connery and Shirley MacLaine were first considered for starring roles while Bryan Forbes and Clive Donner were both in the running to helm the project. None of this panned out so Feldman decided to hire several directors for the project (John Huston was among them) with David Niven (Ian Fleming's original choice for the 007 role) playing the role of Sir James Bond. The basic plot has Bond being recalled to active duty in Scotland where he encounters the widow of a colleague (Deborah Kerr) now working for the evil SMERSH empire. The British Secret Service decides to confuse their enemy by creating a number of Bond decoys, one of whom is a cardshark (Peter Sellers) who takes on the villainous Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) in a marathon baccarat game. Feldman was particularly excited about the casting coup of Peter Sellers in the role of Evelyn Tremble, even though he had been warned against hiring him by several industry insiders who knew the actor could be extremely tempermental. Sellers, who was at the height of his career thanks to the critically acclaimed Dr. Strangelove (1964) and the box-office successes of The Pink Panther (1964), A Shot in the Dark (1964) and What's New, Pussycat? (1965), turned out to be a total nightmare on the set. Despite a recent heart attack, he insisted on subjecting himself to a rigorous course of body-building exercises and running; he even devised a special catlike walk for his character. But his professional dedication soon gave way to unpredictable mood swings and violent tantrums; he fought constantly with director Joe McGrath (a personal friend he insisted be hired for the film) and, at one point, their anger erupted into a slugging match. Sellers' superstitious nature also dictated his decisions; he demanded that an enormously expensive set be destroyed prior to its use because he had a nightmare about it in which his mother said she didn't like it. Worst of all, he developed an irrational fear about his co-star Orson Welles and refused to appear in scenes with him. In Peter Sellers: The Authorized Biography by Alexander Walker, Joe McGrath said, "This was my first film in Panavision, the letter-box-shaped screen. You could hold a hundred yards of the set in the lens. We had seven hundred extras for the gaming tables sequences, but we had no way of bringing our two stars together in the same shot!." But the problems persisted - including Sellers' three-week disappearance while 2,000 extras waited - until the actor suddenly quit, throwing Feldman into a panic. At first, there were rumors that drag star Danny La Rue was being brought in as Sellers' replacement. Instead, Feldman flooded the film with a multitude of faux-Bond characters in an effort to lessen Sellers' importance in the plot. Joanna Pettit's role as Mata Hara was also built up and so was Woody Allen's as Jimmy Bond/Dr. Noah. But for Woody Allen, Casino Royale was simply a job with an attractive salary. He would spend his time off the set playing high-stakes poker, using his winnings to buy German Expressionist art (an Emil Nolde watercolor, a drawing by Oska Kokoschka) or purchase hard-to-find jazz records for his personal collection. In Woody Allen: A Biography by Eric Lax, the actor/writer/director confessed (in a letter to a friend) that Casino Royale "is 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." By the end, the budget of Casino Royale had swollen from its initial cost of $12 million to more than twice that amount. And no wonder the costs were high considering the extensive locations included Paris, the South of France, West Berlin, Ireland, and the Pinewood and MGM-British studios in England. The mammoth slapstick climax alone - featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo as a French Legionnaire, George Raft as himself, and countless famous faces - cost $1 million and took two months to shoot! Yet, despite the film's troubled production history, there is fun to be had amid the insanity - everything from Scottish comedian Ronnie Corbett as a robot with a German accent to the lovely Jacqueline Bisset as Miss Goodthighs. So, if you want to experience the sixties - Hollywood-style - this is the ultimate pit stop. Producer: Jerry Bresler, John Dark, Charles K. Feldman Director: Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish Screenplay: Wolf Mankowitz, John Law, Michael Sayers, based on the novel by Ian Fleming Cinematography: Jack Hildyard Editing: Bill Lenny Music: Burt Bacharach Art Direction: Ivor Beddoes, Lionel Couch, John Howell Cast: Peter Sellers (Evelyn Tremble), Ursula Andress (Vesper Lynd), David Niven (Sir James Bond), Orson Welles (Le Chiffre), Joanna Pettet (Mata Bond), Daliah Lavi (The Detainer), Woody Allen (Jimmy Bond/Dr. Noah), Deborah Kerr (Agent Mimi aka Lady Fiona McTarry), William Holden (Ransome), Kurt Kasznar (Smernov), Barbara Bouchet (Moneypenny), John Huston (McTarry), Anna Quayle (Frau Hoffner), Peter O'Toole (Piper). C-132m. Letterboxed. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Are you Richard Burton?
- Piper
No, I'm Peter O'Toole!
- Evelyn Tremble
Then you're the greatest man that ever BREATHED.
- Piper
What's the strategy, sir?
- Cooper
Get out of the bloody place before it blows up!
- Bond
Hmmm, it is little Otto. He was one of your mother's lovers. We often find him lying around.
- Frau Hoffner
Is he dead?
- Mata Bond
Hard to tell. He always looked like that.
- Frau Hoffner
You can't shoot me! I have a very low threshold of death. My doctor says I can't have bullets enter my body at any time.
- Jimmy Bond
I bet Mummy would've taken me in!
- Mata Bond
Mummy took everyone in.
- Sir James

Trivia

Cameos by Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren, and Barbra Streisand were planned.

When Mata Bond swings into action, the background music is "Bond Street".

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 one the actors.

Sellers often caused interruptions by leaving the set for days at a time.

Numerous screenwriters and directors contributed bits to the film and were uncredited: Billy Wilder (the "Nobody's Perfect" tag line) and Terry Southern (the war room in Berlin) among them.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in England, Ireland, and France. Released in Great Britain in 1967; running time: 131 min. Wilder, Hecht, Huston, Guest, Heller, and Southern are uncredited screenplay writers.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1967

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1967

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States 1967

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1967