Leiter: Aren't you the fella that was shot?
Bond: No, I'm the fella that was missed.
Bond: No, I'm the fella that was missed.
The one that nobody remembers.
Casino Royale was the first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel, released in 1954 as a television movie/episode of the anthology series Climax!. It adapts Ian Fleming's novel of the same name (the first in the series of novels), which was released the year before. It stars Barry Nelson as an American "Jimmy" Bond, Linda Christian as Valerie Mathis (a Composite Character of Vesper Lynd and Rene Mathis) and Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre.
See also the 1967 and 2006 big screen versions of the story.
Provides examples of:
- Adaptational Alternate Ending: The ending greatly simplifies the ending of the novel. Whereas in the novel a SMERSH operative kills Le Chiffre and Vesper commits suicide after being revealed to have been a mole for the bad guys against her will, here Le Chiffre is killed by Bond himself and Valerie (Vesper's counterpart) survives.
- Adaptational Name Change:
- James Bond's first name was changed to the more American-sounding Jimmy.
- Felix Leiter's first name was changed to Clarence.
- Adaptational Nationality: In this film, Bond is American (and a CIA agent) and Leiter is British (and a MI6 agent) instead of the other way around.
- Agony of the Feet: Le Chiffre needs Bond to tell him where he stashed the cheque for his winnings at the Baccarat table, and decides to use a pair of pliers on Bond's feet to make him talk.
- Bluff the Eavesdropper: Bond, knowing that Le Chiffre has a microphone in his hotel room, confronts Valerie about it. When he realizes that she knew nothing about it, he figures out that Le Chiffre also intends to test Valerie's loyalty and decides to go along with it.
- The Casino: The titular casino where Bond and Le Chiffre play baccarat is one of only two locations in the film, the other being the hotel the characters are staying at.
- Chekhov's Gun: We are told early on that Le Chiffre always carries three razor blades: one in his hat, one in his cigarette case, and one in his left shoe.
- The one in his cigarette case is used by Bond to escape from his restraints after Le Chiffre has captured and tortured him.
- The one in his hat is used by Le Chiffre to hold Valerie hostage at the very end.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Le Chiffre takes a pair of pliers to Bond's feet to make him talk.
- Composite Character: Vesper Lynd and René Mathis are combined into a single character called Valerie Mathis. She gets the first letter of her first name and being Bond's love interest from the former, and her last name as well as being a member of the Deuxième Bureau from the latter.
- Compressed Adaptation: The relationship between Vesper/Valerie and Bond is greatly simplified, one of the effects of which is that the long final section portraying the increasing tensions between them and her confession and suicide is completely omitted.
- Early Adaptation Weirdness: Compared to the later Eon film series, this adaptation is noticeably different. James Bond is an American agent and referred to as "Jimmy", Felix Leiter is British and renamed to Clarence, M is completely absent, and the production values are lower due to being a live TV production.
- Exposition: Bond spends a significant amount of time explaining the rules of Baccarat to Leiter in order to make sure that the audience understands what's going on later when Bond and Le Chiffre are playing.
- Hostage for MacGuffin: Le Chiffre eventually grabs Valerie and threatens Bond, demanding an exchange of her for Bond's winnings.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The film begins with someone shooting at Bond while his back is turned—and missing—from a few meters away.
- In-Series Nickname: Leiter knows Bond by the nickname "Card Sense" Jimmy Bond.
- Large Ham: Peter Lorre seems to be doing a Humphrey Bogart impression.
- Old Flame: Bond and Valerie have a past together, and they both still have feelings for each other.
- Onscreen Chapter Titles: Each of the three acts is preceded with text showing up on screening stating the title and the act number.
- Opening Monologue: The film begins with Climax! host William Lundigan introducing the film and explaining what a shoe is.
- Orphaned Setup: In most prints of the film, the final minute or so is missing, meaning the setup of the razor blade in Le Chiffre's hat never gets any payoff.
- Pretty in Mink: Valerie Mathis (the story's rough counterpart to Vesper) appears in a fur wrap, as do a number of background characters.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Valerie, this film's version of Vesper Lynd, survives.
- Sword Cane: One of Le Chiffre's henchmen has a gun cane.
- The Un-Reveal: In most existing prints, we get the following: Le Chiffre is shown groping for his hat—then the show ends. It had previously been mentioned that he kept a razor hidden there. In the rare prints that retain the full ending, Le Chiffre threatens Valerie with the razor and is shot dead by Bond.
- Visible Boom Mic: The boom mic's shadow is seen on the wall of one shot.