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Call me "Jimmy"
on June 27, 2003
So whaddya know? Dr. No wasn't the first James Bond after all. Almost ten years prior to Sean Connery's landmark debut, Casino Royale comes to us as part of a live mystery television program called Climax! (what a name, eh?) Apparently, different writers were acted out on a weekly basis, and October 21, 1954 happened to be the week Ian Fleming's legendary character made his first screen entrance, and it wasn't even the big screen!
So what do we have here, James Bond fans? Ironically, the opening credits that pan through a series of camera lenses look remarkably similar to the gun barrel opening sequences of the later Bond flicks. Aside from that, that's about it. Yep, this is a whole different Bond. He's shifty-eyed, condescending, he has a receding hairline, I even think he's a Blond Bond (albeit in black and white it's hard to tell.) Is it true he's an American in this? Says a lot about the liberties we were taking with an author's works. A British lead? The horror!
In any case, it's worth watching if you're an Ian Fleming fan as it does stay relatively true to his book. In it, Bond is given the laughable assignment of beating a "dastardly" villain named Le Chiffre out of the Soviet money he's been embezzling to support his gambling weakness. We're never really given a reason why he's so dastardly other than he looks funny (hey, it's Peter Loore!) But no matter, Bond is a man of duty, "For Queen and Country" and all that... (darn it, wrong country again.) Linda Christian stars as Valerie Mathis, a former flame of Mr. Bond and the obvious femme fatale. But is she on Le Chiffre's side or Bond's? Well, you'll just have to see now, won't you (or just read another review, I'm sure someone has spoiled the entire plot.)
I doubt anyone except die-hard James Bond fans will want this, and even then only to complete their collection. It is interesting to watch, however, just to see a time when baccarat was beatable, people could act, leading ladies weighed more than 105 pounds, and there was more than an eight minute period between commercials. Hmmm... now that I think about it, I would pick this over "Never Say Never Again."