- January 13th, 2012
- Write comment
Written by Ian Fleming (novel), Charles Bennett, Anthony Ellis
Directed by William H. Brown Jr
Presented by William Lundigan
Starring Barry Nelson, Peter Lorre, Linda Christian, Michael Pate
Theme music composer Jerry Goldsmith
Producers: Bretaigne Windhurst, Elliott Lewis (Associate)
Running time 48 minutes
Distributor CBS (TV airing)
MGM (DVD release)
Original channel CBS
First shown in 21 October 1954
Casino Royale is a 1954 television adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. The show is the first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel and stars Barry Nelson and Peter Lorre. Though this marks the first onscreen appearance of the character of James Bond, Nelson’s character is credited as Jimmy Bond, an American agent with “Combined Intelligence”.
The show was forgotten about after its initial showing until most of it was located in the 1980s by film historian Jim Schoenberger, with the ending (including credits) found afterwards. The rights to the programme were acquired by MGM at the same time as the rights for the 1967 film version of Casino Royale, clearing the legal pathway and enabling them to make the 2006 film of the same name.
Act I “Combined Intelligence” agent Jimmy Bond comes under fire from an assassin: he manages to dodge the bullets and enters Casino Royale. There he meets his British contact, Clarence Leiter, who remembers “Card Sense Jimmy Bond” when he played the Maharajah of Deauville. Bond explains his mission: to beat Le Chiffre at baccarat and force his Soviet spymasters to “retire” him; he then encounters a former lover, Valerie Mathis who is Le Chiffre’s now girlfriend; he also meets Le Chiffre himself.
Act II Bond beats Le Chiffre at baccarat but, when he returns to his hotel room, is confronted by Le Chiffre and his bodyguards, along with Mathis, who Le Chiffre has discovered is an agent of the Deuxième, France’s external military intelligence agency at the time.
Act III Le Chiffre tortures Bond in order to find out where Bond has hidden the cheque for his winnings, but Bond does not reveal where it is. After a fight between Bond and Le Chiffre’s guards, Bond shoots and wounds Le Chiffre, saving Valerie in the process. Exhausted, Bond sits in a chair opposite Le Chiffre to talk. Mathis gets in between them and Le Chiffre grabs her from behind, threatening her with a concealed razor blade. As Le Chiffre moves towards the door with Mathis as a shield, she struggles, breaking free slightly and Bond is able to shoot Le Chiffre.
Barry Nelson – James Bond
Peter Lorre – Le Chiffre
Linda Christian – Valerie Mathis
Michael Pate – Clarence Leiter
Eugene Borden – Chef De Partie
Jean Del Val – Croupier
Gene Roth – Basil
Kurt Katch – Zoltan
Unknown actor – Zuroff
William Lundigan – Host/Himself