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Not one but two versions of Casino Royale
on July 20, 2002
NOTE: This review is NOT for the "Casino Royale (40th Anniversary Edition)" DVD despite the fact that Amazon also lists the review on the product page for that 2007 DVD (note the 2002 date of this review). This review is associated with the DVD released in 2002 - which is available on Amazon. The review references this edition of the movie: http://www.amazon.com/Casino-Royale-David-Niven/dp/B00005JL0I/ref=cm_rdp_product
Finally this comedic take on the James Bond series makes its way onto DVD, and for completists and fans of James Bond this 2002 DVD promises not only the 1967 version of Ian Flemings first 007 novel but also an edited down version of the very first James Bond movie, the 1950s CBS TV movie that starred Barry Nelson as James Bond (thats right, Sean Connery was NOT the first actor to portray 007). Made for an American audience, the character of James Bond is a CIA agent in that show and Leiter is the British intelligence agent. That movie, which is listed as a special feature on this DVD, also starred Peter Lorre as the villain Le Chiffre. Made in the days of live television this entertaining oddity is worth watching for the bloopers alone.
Years later, the rights to "Casino Royale" made it into the hands of another movie producer who, convinced that any attempt to make a serious version of "Casino Royale" would be doomed without the talents of Sean Connery, decided to make the remake as a comedy instead. With Peter Sellers playing James Bond and Orson Welles taking on the role of Le Chiffre everything seemed to be going fine until a script dispute caused Sellers to walk out on the project. Left with half a movie the producers were in trouble and they scrambled to save their production. One needs to understand this background to the movie to understand why it turned out the way it did. In it's final version it seems truly confused with several actors portraying the role of James Bond and several directors (including John Huston who also cameos as M) taking a crack at it. There is even an early appearance by Woody Allen and former Bond girl Ursula Andress. For me personally, the Peter Sellers scenes are especially brilliant and very funny and David Niven plays the perfect gentleman spy. The action comes thick and fast and in addition to Andress there are a number of actors familiar to devotees to the rival EON productions. This movie is truly