In honour of the recent release of Skyfall, here are a couple of Bond films that you may not know about.
Casino Royal (1954)
The first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel goes all the way back to 1954, when CBS decided to create a television adaptation of Casino Royale as part of the Climax! TV series. Barry Nelson played “Jimmy Bond” not as a British MI6 agent, but as an American working for something called “Combined Intelligence”. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the film in its entirety.
Casino Royale (1967)
The second adaption of Casino Royale starred David Niven as “Sir James Bond 007”, a retired agent who comes out of retirement to run MI6. The film is a parody of the Bond series, and features the comic talents of Peter Sellers. In this adaptation it’s revealed that the name and number of Bond are passed down to another agent when a Bond dies or retires – a theory that, until recently, didn’t really clash with the official series.
The film rights for this version of Casino Royale were purchased by Charles K. Feldman some years earlier to this adaptation – with the hope that he might be able to have the novel turned into an Eon Productions film (the producers of all ‘official’ Bond movies). When this deal failed to come to fruition, Feldman elected to turn the film into a parody of the series. The result, with scenes directed by no less than six different directors, is a fascinating mess.