INTRODUCTION AND TWO
VERSIONS OF CASINO ROYALE
(Note: All timings quoted refer to the PAL
releases, unless otherwise stated)
there have been an almost-countless number of releases of the James Bond
films, on just about every home video format, from VHS to Laserdisc, from
VCD to DVD, often with multiple releases in each format. No doubt we will soon
see them make their debut in High Definition.
studying the films’ home video history two things have become apparent.
Firstly, some of the films have been treated better than others over the
years, and secondly, many of the films have been released in such a
variety of cuts, that it is hard to determine which - if any - are the
does not pretend to be the last word on the subject, but it does attempt
to provide some information about each film, and how they have been
treated over the years. It also provides information about the variant
cuts of some of the films which have appeared over the past five decades.
Hopefully the Guide will provide answers to some long-standing questions,
and even offer some information you never thought you’d need to know!
Along the way we shall also be taking
in the first ever live-action depiction of James Bond, in the 1954 TV
adaptation of Casino Royale, and the two “unofficial” James Bond
movies (the 1967 version of Casino Royale and Never Say Never
CASINO ROYALE - 1954
with the television adaptation of Casino Royale, first broadcast as
part of the Climax Mystery Theater series, on the 21st
October 1954. Barry Nelson starred as James Bond, and Peter Lorre played
his nemesis, Le Chiffre.
long thought lost, this has since been released all over the world, in a
variety of different prints. The version that most people will be familiar
with is the one included as an extra on the Region 1 release of the 1967
film version of Casino Royale (see below). This version on this
disc, as with most other versions in circulation, is missing the very
ending of the show, and cuts to the end credits just as Bond asks Valerie to telephone
complete version to date would appear to be an American VHS released by
Spy Guise Video in 1998. This version includes the whole of the final
scene. Spy Guise announced that they had plans to release the same uncut
print on DVD, but it has yet to appear.
be noted that none of the versions available in any format are in
particularly great shape, but we should be grateful that it exists at all.
CASINO ROYALE - 1967
Upon securing the film rights to the novel
Casino Royale (which, because of the 1950s TV adaptation, were
still up for grabs, unlike the rest of Fleming’s novels) noted film
producer Charles K. Feldman initially tried to interest Harry Saltzman and
Cubby Broccoli in co-producing a new version of the tale, this time for
the big screen. However, they turned his offer down.
Colombia, however, jumped at the chance,
and decided to press ahead with their own version. Initially, the film was
to be a very serious adaptation, one very faithful to the source material.
Feldman even approached Sean Connery to see if he’d be interested in
taking the lead role. Connery also turned him down, however. It was at
this point that Feldman decided that the only way to approach the material
was to make it a spoof of the “official” Bond series.
In the end, the film, beset with production
problems, wound up costing between twelve and thirty-four million dollars
to make (depending upon which sources you believe), making it by far the
most expensive Bond film produced to that point, and quite some time
after, come to that.
In the end, at many as five directors and
at least ten writers contributed to the final product, which, perhaps
understandably, was more than a little difficult to follow in places, not
least because Peter Sellers, finding it impossible to work with Orson
Welles, walked off the film before he’d finished shooting all his scenes.
Nevertheless, the film does have a special
place in many fans’ hearts.
A neglected gem, this film, starring
Barbara Bouchet and, er, some other people, presents us with what is,
without a doubt, one of the most perplexing mysteries surrounding any of
the Bond films.
The theatrical running time of Casino Royale was, according to the
BBFC, 142m 29s (at 24fps). The longest video/DVD running time is 125m 38s
at (25fps). Even accounting for PAL speed up (which would make the
theatrical cut come in at around the 138m mark), that’s still a shortfall
of about quarter of an hour. Intriguingly, on the back of the R1 DVD, the
length is clearly listed as being around two-and-a-quarter hours (which
would almost tally with the BBFC listing of the theatrical cut). The DVD
itself is, sadly, the same cut we’ve all been used to for years.
The premiere and press screenings of the film contained a “comedic”
gunbarrel sequence at the start of the film, involving a champagne bottle
that disappeared by the time the film premiered to the public, but that
would hardly account for a fifteen minute discrepancy. So, the question
is, what happened to that 142 minute version?
Onto the various DVD releases of this
film, and, perhaps not surprisingly, Casino Royale has never really
been given the sort of tender, loving care it deserves, with neither the
Region 1, nor the Region 2 releases distinguishing themselves.
The anamorphic R1 release contains
both the original mono mix, and a new, 5.1 Dolby track and, generally
speaking, looks very nice indeed. However, the original Columbia logo is
replaced by a modern day MGM one, and moments of (easily repairable) film
damage make their presence felt, as if to remind you of the film’s bastard
status. One particular sequence, in which Evelyn Tremble is talking to
Vesper, whilst performing press-ups, suffers from a gigantic tear during
one shot (at 52’ 29”). This tear is not in evidence in the R2, though,
interestingly, the footage from some of that sequence on the R2 does look
to be slightly faded and pinkish in tone, possibly indicating that they
lifted sections of the scene from another, inferior, print to cover
similar, or perhaps even the same, damage. It is down to personal taste
which is more objectionable; the tear, or the badly colour-timed
The R2 also retains the original
Columbia logo at the start, but, unfortunately, is non-anamorphic. It is
also missing the 5.1 remix, a Val Guest interview, and the TV edition of
Casino Royale, all of which can be found on the R1.
The R2 release does, however, contain
two trailers to the R1’s one. The Theatrical Trailer (which urges the
audience to “Join the Casino Royale Fun Movement!”) is common to
both regions, though whilst the R1 version is in widescreen and taken from
a decent source, the R2 is in far rougher condition, and cropped to 4:3,
resulting in some painfully bad compositions. For instance, it takes
whoever is in charge of the transfer two attempts at getting Barbara Bouchet’s name on screen without cropping it. Perversely, the second,
“teaser” trailer on the R2 copy is presented with anamorphic enhancement,
unlike the film itself. Both trailers contain footage that didn’t make it
to the final cut, which makes them both invaluable to completists.
PART TWO -
THE SEAN CONNERY MOVIES