Bond Breakdown: Special Entry: Climax! Casino Royale (1954)

Bond #00 - Casino Royale 00


Casino Royale (1954): Breakdown by Rantbo

Special (American) Combined Intelligence Agent Jimmy Bond is on a mission to win a game of baccarat and clean-out a Soviet Agent named Le Chiffre, thus removing his pot to piss in and forcing him to golden shower the steps of lady liberty with his commie information.


Bond #00 - Casino Royale 01

At one point Bond plays some out-of-tune jazz on a radio, but that’s as close as this came to having any score. The only other “music” present was a couple dramatic noise flares to signify when something shocking was goings on.

As for the Credits, you almost get the standard White-Font, Black-Backdrop Scroll, but they forgot to include all the cast and the words were all fuzzy. All-in-all, a pretty lackluster affair, I must say.


Body Bags Filled [01] Bedpost Notches [01*]

Well, since this was the first filmed performance of James Bond, I’ll cut Nelson some slack. He sucked. Alright, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but an American James Bond? It makes my flesh crawl. To be fair, the guy does an OK job and to his credit he almost manages to appear cool and intimidating, and as far as hansom-wise, I guess. I mean, is this what got 50s chicks hot under the apron? I dunno and I don’t really want to.

*All he does is kiss the girl. But this was made in 1954 and kissing on television was practically like butt-humping during the Super Bowl half-time show nowadays. So, I counted it.


Peter Lorre is Le Chiffre

“If you continue to be THAT obstinate, I—I’ll have to tortu-YOU’ll BE TORTURED TO THE EDGE OF MADNESS! Believe me, you have no hope whatsoever, you hear? NONE!”

Peter Lorre is awesome. He actually made the boring-as-Hell 50 minutes worth watching. Which I assure you, is no small feat. Now I thought that the role of Le Chiffre was done perfect in the ‘06 version of the story by Mads Mikkelsen, but if I take into effect just how shitty and uninteresting everything else was in this 1954 version—Peter Lorre deserved a Oscar for this portrayal. His little stout stature and toad-like features matched much closer to how I pictured the character in the book, and come on—it’s Peter Lorre! You couldn’t find a better actor to play the villain back then. So, I risk being redundant, but Lorre was THE reason to watch the show.


Linda Christian is Valerie Mathis

Vesper Lynd mixed with Rene Mathis. Ewww! Wait, only in name and occupation. Valerie is an undercover French Agent and thankfully, spends most of her screen time gagged and tied to the wall. In the backstory, the poor girl was smitten with the dangerously dashing Jimmy Bond and foolishly fell in love. But that was then, this is now and now, Valerie is working for Le Chiffre. OK, she doesn’t really like her new boss, so I guess she isn’t a complete bitch. But, as this is the 50s, the program has little use for her other than a scandalous kiss to get the sexually repressed viewer’s long-johns moist and to hang around the third act so Bond can have someone to save besides himself. Which of course means, “The bitch is(n’t) dead.”. I think ‘Meh’ sums up her character pretty well.


Well, Bond uses a screwdriver to hide his winning baccarat check…


The Body Count [01] The Best Fight and The Most Satisfying Death

Bond kicks the shit out of Le Chiffre’s main henchman Basil, Fifties Style! That of course means three awkward punches and an “Oof!” sound. Hardcore! But it gets better, a minute later, Bond finishes poor Basil off with an off-screen gunshot! Talk about obscene gratuitous violence—I for one found it quite disturbing.


Best Witticism:

Leiter: “Aren’t chu the fella who was shot?”
Bond: “Naw, I’m the fella who was missed!”

That’s about as witty as Bond gets and as for cracking sexual puns, forget about it. I’m still surprised they allowed that kiss to make it on the air.


Bond: “I’m no hero, I don’t like pain, but I can tell you one thing right now—you won’t get anything outta me! Pain and killing is part of my job…”
Le Chiffre: “And of mine too, Mr. Bond.”
Bond: “HahahI’ll bet chuuu LOVE IT!”
Le Chiffre: “How did you find out!?”

I guess the question is: Am I glad I watched it?… Yeah, I guess so. If for nothing else I can feel slightly more complete in my action movie pilgrimage, but it’s not something I’m going to brag about having seen. For the time, this must have been to the TV viewers, what LOST is to me now. Riveting and unbeatable. And it’s also the most accurate portrayal of the book that’s been made so far. That has to count for something, right? I don’t know. In the end the whole thing took less than an hour, it had some fairly quotable lines and it’s cool to see Peter Lorre play the first ever Bond villain, so all-in-all, it wasn’t that bad.


[  ] Destroys Evil Doer’s Lair
[  ] Drinks or Orders a Vesper Martini
[X] Gets Captured and/or Tortured
[  ] Introduces Himself As “Bond—James, Bond”
[X] Teams-Up With Felix Leiter*
[  ] Uses Judo or a Walther PPK to Dispose of an Enemy
[X] Wears a Tux

*In a way. Bond works with a Clarence Leiter, who must be Felix’s British cousin.

RANTBO will return in (a breakdown of) DR. NO