Literature: Casino Royale

It all started here.

"The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning."
— Opening line

The very first James Bond novel, published in 1953.

The plot follows Bond, as he is tasked to bankrupt a man named Le Chiffre in a card game at the eponymous casino. The idea behind it is to cripple the Russian spy organization SMERSH, whom Le Chiffre is working for.

Ian Fleming sold the rights to the novel separately from the rest of the main film series, which is the reason that it took so long for a proper adaptation of it in 2006. Before that, there were two other adaptations:
  • The 1954 version was an episode made for the American Climax! TV series. While it has the honor of being the first Bond production outside a book, it Americanized everything including Bond himself, as well as greatly simplifying the story. It starred Barry Nelson as Jimmy Bond and Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre. In turn Leiter was changed from American to British.
  • The 1967 version was an unholy mess of a spoof, with no less than 8 Bonds (9 including Sean Connery, who does not appear but receives a Shout-Out) and almost as many directors. Logic is paid little heed in the pursuit of comedy. Notably, it includes David Niven as the one-and-only original Sir James Bond — Niven was Fleming's first choice for the part before Connery made it his own — as well as Ursula Andress's second appearance in a Bond movie, this time as both the Bond girl and James Bond. It also starred Woody Allen as young Jimmy Bond (his "disappointing" nephew), Peter Sellers as Evelyn Tremble a.k.a. James Bond, and Orson Welles as Le Chiffre.

This book has the examples of:

  • Author Appeal: Ian Fleming loves baccarat, and the novel features an interlude explaining the rules to beginners (which is cut in some editions).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Felix's "Marshall Aid" package bails out Bond when he runs out of cash.
  • Blood Knight: When it comes to gambling. Bond is very excited to play Baccarat with Le Chiffre.
  • Broken Bird: Vesper. She is pretty fragile from the get-go, and outright depressed towards the end of the story.
  • Car Chase: A relatively low-key one as Bond pursues Vesper's kidnappers, though it does come to quite a spectacular finish when the bad guys make Bond's car flip over with a bunch of caltrops.
  • The Commies Made Me Do It: Vesper's reason for her betrayal.
  • Costume Porn: Every outfit Vesper wears gets a gorgeous description.
  • Description in the Mirror: Bond does this in one chapter.
  • The Dreaded: SMERSH. Le Chiffre, who generally keeps his cool whether he has the upper hand against Bond & his allies or not, is utterly terrified when a SMERSH gunman shows up in the basement of his villa, and doesn't even try to fight back or talk his way out. Vesper's reaction to them is, if anything, even bleaker.
  • Driven to Suicide: Vesper.
  • Fainting: One of Le Chiffre's men threatens to shoot Bond with a silenced gun hidden in his cane unless he withdraws from the game, saying he'll be gone from the casino before anyone realises Bond hasn't just passed out. Instead Bond pretends to faint from the tension of the high stakes game, falling backward in his chair and knocking the weapon from the man's hands.
  • Gratuitous French: M is reading a report by Head of S in which the latter states that Le Chiffre is in the mess he's in because the chain of legal brothels he was running using embezzled party funds were closed by a 1946 French law usually referred to as "la loi Marthe Richard", which criminalised them. Head of S gives the full French title of the law note . M rings him up, asks what (it is implied) "proxénétisme" means — pimping (literally, "procuring"). M then responds:
    "This is not the Berlitz School of Languages, Head of S. The next time you want to show off your knowledge of foreign jaw-breakers, be so good as to use a crib. Better still, write in English."
  • Groin Attack: Bond is interrogated by Le Chiffre with a carpet beater, which is used for this purpose.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: James Bond actually uses this term when discussing his would-be assassins. They were given two bombs (disguised as cameras) by Le Chiffre's men, both of which were run-of-the-mill bombs. They were told that one was a smoke bomb, and to throw the "real" bomb at Bond, while setting off the smoke bomb to escape. The assassins decided instead to set off the "smoke bomb" first, blowing themselves up.
  • Honor Before Reason: This is the probably best description that can be applied the SMERSH agent who kills Le Chiffre but spares the helpless Bond. It's not out of any personal code of ethics, but rather just because his superiors hadn't ordered him to do anything besides punish Le Chiffre, throwing a bit of Bothering by the Book into the mix. Bond even notes that the man will probably be raked over the coals by his superiors when he gets back to Russia.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Bond falls hard enough for Vesper to want to propose to her.
  • Manly Tears: Bond's response after finding Vesper Lynd's body and a note confessing what she did.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Le Chiffre.
  • Ransacked Room: Bond's hotel room is ransacked by Mooks looking for a cheque. They don't find it because he's hidden it behind the room number - on the outside of the door.
  • Ridiculous Exchange Rates: The pound to franc exchange rate, at about a thousand to one. The French government would later introduce the New Franc in 1958 (responding to inflation by replacing 100 Old Francs with 1 New Franc).
  • The Stateless: The villain flaunts his statelessness, claiming to have lost his memory during World War II and calling himself Le Chiffre or any other equivalents in other languages.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Bond's response when realising Vesper has been kidnapped is anger that women can't just stay in the kitchen and leave men's work to the men.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Discussed. Bond has spoken to enough torture survivors to know that becoming attached to his captors is a risk.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Bond is described by one character to another as looking similar to Hoagy Carmichael. Bond himself is aware of the comparision (even though he wasn't involved in that conversation - he's probably heard it a million times). In another scene he looks at himself in the mirror and thinks that Carmichael is much better looking than he.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Or perhaps de-emphasis — the final words of the novel are a deliberately callous report to London. "The bitch is dead now."
  • Villainous Rescue
  • What Is Evil?: The trauma of his torture makes Bond grapple with this question as he recuperates in the hospital, and he even briefly considers quitting his job. Of course, Vesper's suicide note and the revelation of her betrayal immediately snaps him out of it.
  • Zorro Mark: The SMERSH agent who takes down Le Chiffre cuts a bizarre symbol into Bond's hand, as a demonstration of his superiority. Bond explains later what he believes it to mean.

The 1954 TV production contains examples of:

Alternative Title(s):

Casino Royale 1954