Casino Royale is a 1967 film, loosely based on the first James Bond Novel, by Ian Fleming, also titled Casino Royale.
It features an absolutely all star cast and at the time, one of the biggest film budgets in history. It was produced by Famous Artist Productions and distributed by Colombia pictures. The film is a spoof of the spy film genre that at this point had become huge, after the success of the previous bond films.
An Unforgettable Cast
The film features Peter Sellers, Future bond girl Ursula Andres, Woody Allen, David Niven and the legendary Orson Welles.
The film also includes music by Burt Bacharach which earned him an academy award nomination for “The Look Of Love” that he wrote, but which was performed by Dusty Springfield.
The film was a commercial success but critically slated. The film had a very difficult production with multiple directors involved and disputes between Peter Sellers, Orson Wells and Woody Allen.
A Directorial Team Effort
The directors included Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joseph McGrath and Richard Talmadge. In the film, Peter Sellers character that was essentially the male lead abruptly dies. This was written into the film as by that point Peter Sellers was either fired or simply walked off set.
Rumors abound that he was intimidated by Orson Wells, with anecdotal evidence confirming these stories. Additionally Peter Sellers hired Terry Southern as an additional script writer to improve his dialogue in the film in order to outshine both Orson Welles and Woody Allen.
Additionally it has been claimed that Peter Sellers was upset that the film was changed to a parody, when originally Sellers was hired to do a straight Bond film, but due to legal and licensing issues with Eon Productions.
The filming of Casino Royale occurred in Pinewood Studios, Twickenham Studios and Shepperton Studios in London. Additional scenes were shot in Trafalgar Square and Killeen Castle in Ireland.
The Intricate Plot
David Nivens features as the original James Bond. Other spies have been disappearing or found murdered and the original James Bond is forced out of retirement to investigate what’s going on. He is visited by members from Mi6, the KGB and the CIA who convince him to face the evil SMERSH organization and the leader, Doctor Noah.
At first he refuses, but after his mansion is destroyed, along with his good friend from MI6, M, he becomes involved in the fight against SMERSH. From here on in the story becomes a quite convoluted spoof of spy films, with this James Bond being totally celibate and un-seducable.
Bond eventually becomes promoted to head of MI6 and he begins training other agents to be celibate as their inability to resist sexual advances is their downfall. They name multiple agents James Bond in order to confuse SMERSH.
The film does stay faithful to a few story elements from the book that was also used in the 2006 adaptation of the Ian Fleming. Le Chiffre is still the main villain, here played by the legendary Orson Welles.
Althought there are no pokies here, there is also a baccarat scene between Bond and Le Chiffre. Rumor has it that Sellers and Welles were not in the studio at the same time during shooting.