Casino Royale(s): The Forgotten Bonds

Thought Sean Connery was the first James Bond?

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.

James Curnow is an obsessive cinephile and the owner and head editor of CURNBLOG. His work as a film journalist has been published in a range of print and digital publications, including The Guardian, Broadsheet and Screening the Past. James is currently working through a PhD in Film Studies, focused primarily on issues of historical representation in Contemporary Hollywood cinema.

8 thoughts on “Casino Royale(s): The Forgotten Bonds

  1. I have never really liked any Bond film. Not for the worthy reasons so well outlined by other replies. I just think that they are crappy films, and unimaginative. Perhaps more importantly, they are nothing like the books, not that I though that they were that great either! Regards, Pete.

    • Hi Pete. As a general rule I’m with you – which is probably why I’ve appreciated the shift of the Craig era.

      Tarantino has an interesting concept for Bond (he offered to direct Casino Royale). He envisaged a new and slightly ironic series of period films set during the Cold War – although that kind of sounds like Austin Powers.

  2. I have to say, I’ve never been able to like James Bond movies. One time I sat through two and felt quite unhappy. I just don’t like action, women used as objects, etc. I know some people love them and consider them great entertainment.

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