April 14, 1967: Too many Bonds in ‘Casino Royale’

“Casino Royale is too much…for ONE James Bond!”

Casino_Royale-1967Casino Royale is a spy comedy film originally produced by Columbia Pictures starring an ensemble cast of directors and actors. It is loosely based on Ian Fleming‘s first James Bond novel. The film stars David Niven as the “original” Bond, Sir James Bond 007. Forced out of retirement to investigate the deaths and disappearances of international spies, he soon battles the mysterious Dr. Noah, played by Woody Allen, and SMERSH. The film’s slogan: “Casino Royale is too much… for one James Bond!” refers to Bond’s ruse to mislead SMERSH in which six other agents are pretending to be “James Bond”, namely, baccarat master Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers); millionaire spy Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress); Bond’s secretary Miss Moneypenny (Barbara Bouchet); Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet), Bond’s daughter with Mata Hari; and British agents “Coop” (Terence Cooper) and “The Detainer” (Daliah Lavi).

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Charles K. Feldman, the producer, had acquired the film rights in 1960 and had attempted to get Casino Royale made as an Eon Productions Bond film; however, Feldman and the producers of the Eon series, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, failed to come to terms. Believing that he could not compete with the Eon series, Feldman resolved to produce the film as a satire. The budget escalated as various directors and writers got involved in the production, and actors expressed dissatisfaction with the project.

Casino Royale was released two months prior to Eon’s fifth Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. The film was a financial success, grossing over $41.7 million worldwide, and Burt Bacharach‘s musical score was praised, earning him an Academy Award nomination for the song “The Look of Love“. Critical reception to Casino Royale, however, was generally negative; some critics regarded it as a baffling, disorganised affair. Since 1999, the film’s rights have been held by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, distributors of the official Bond movies by Eon Productions.

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Also in the cast were Orson Welles as Le Chiffre, Deborah Kerr, William Holden, John Huston, and George Raft plus Jacqueline Bisset, Bernard Cribbins, Ronnie Corbett, Anna Quayle and Geoffrey Bayldon, who played Q.  You’ll also find Peter O’Toole, motor racing legend Stirling Moss, a young Anjelica Huston (as Deborah Kerr’s hands!), David Prowse (Darth Vader) and John Le Mesurier.

See more at www.mgm.com.

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