After the unsuccessful
showing of Casino Royale Fleming sold the rights to Gregory Ratoff for only
$6,000. The unused storylines that Fleming had written for the projected
series of Bond TV adventures were later to appear in his collection of
short stories FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, published in 1960.
In retrospect the TV
production of Casino Royale is still worth viewing, and remains
entertaining even after 34 years gathering dust. The story had to be
changed for TV and some characters were dispensed with, others were
amalgamated to suit the screenwriter's plot. The most alarming, but quite
understandable alteration was that Fleming's character became ‘Card sense
Jimmy Bond’, an American CIA agent. Felix Leiter was changed accordingly
to Clarence Leiter (Michael Pate)
of the British Secret Service, and was portrayed as a typical ‘plummy’ upper class Englishman, but with a hard
edge. It is interesting to note how one could transpose Nelson and Pate in
their roles to match our contemporary impressions of Bond and Leiter.
Ironically, Pate cornered the market in Hollywood playing Red Indians
(most notably as the
bloodthirsty Apache renegade Sierra Charriba in
Major Dundee ) in
a remarkable career that has spanned over half a century.
The heroine of the novel,
Vesper Lynd — was in fact working for the villains SMERSH — in the TV version is
combined with Rene Mathis, Bond's friend from the Deuxieme Bureau to
become Valerie Mathis, secret agent for the Bureau.
attractive blonde hardly conjures up Fleming's femme fatale with “very
black” hair, but after the other liberties taken with the story this
hardly matters. Scriptwriters Antony Ellis and Charles Bennett dispensed with various secondary
characters from the novel: Mr. & Mrs. Muntze — the German couple working
for Le Chiffre — who eavesdrop on Bond's movements in his hotel room; and
the ‘Two Men in Straw Hats’ — the bomb-carrying Bulgarian SMERSH agents.
Peter Lorre may not have
fitted Fleming's description of Le Chiffre exactly, but what he lacks in
physical similarity is amply compensated for by his enormously
entertaining and subtle performance. The scenes where Le Chiffre questions
Bond about where he has hidden his winnings show how Lorre beautifully
underplays the violent streak which runs through the character, making him
even more menacing.