It seems only fair
Royale with cheese
"The name's Bond. Card Sense Jimmy Bond."
On its own this obscure TV drama come thriller would be totally forgotten if it wasn't for the fact that it's the first on screen appearance of someone playing Ian Fleming's James Bond. Before Sean Connery played him in 1962's big-screen "Dr. No," Barry Nelson played the secret agent in this 1954 CBS small-screen live adaptation of Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, "Casino Royale"
Jimmy Bond is an American CIA operative. He is tasked with cleaning out communist agent Le Chiffre (Peter Lorre, of "Casablanca" fame) in a game of baccarat. Bond is helped by British secret agent Clarence Leiter and sexy French double agent Valerie Mathis (Vesper Lynd and René Mathis rolled into one).
Since "Casino Royale" was made for American TV as a part of the CBS series Climax!, the producers seemed to think they needed to make the hero American. Nelson plays Bond like a hard-boiled private eye. Peter Lorre is spot-on as the villain. Even though he is a small man, he radiates an erratic intensity that makes him menacing.
Since this version of "Casino Royale" was made for live TV, there are also mistakes as a result of not having multiple takes to get it right. Shadows are cast over actors' faces. There are long pauses in telephone conversations, Lorre is inaudible at times, and in one shot, he clearly didn't know the camera was still on him. Nelson crams his shoulder into a lampshade. Someone can be overheard coughing behind the camera during a tense interrogation scene.
Even in these politically inclusive days, when 'non-traditional' casting is lauded, there is still something uniquely blasphemous about the idea of an American James Bond...
Best lines of dialogue;-
After surviving a murder attempt in the opening scene:
Chef DePartre - "The casino is full of apologies Mr. Bond. Such an act is beyond explanation. You had not begun to play, so it was not your winnings they were after."
Jimmy B quips - "Yeah, and it wasn't my autograph either!"
Valerie Mathis - [Leaving casino] "Perhaps we can go together."
Jimmy B - "Well, if you don't mind going through a barrage of bullets. Right now I'm not a very good risk."
Valerie Mathis - "So it was you those men were shooting at. But why?"
Jimmy B - "Maybe they needed the practice."
Clarence Leiter - "Aren't you the fellow who was shot?"
Jimmy B - "No I was the fellow who was missed!"
Clarence Leiter - "You know you're here to deal with Herr Ziffer, Le Chiffre, he's the same fellow."
Jimmy B - "Deal with... you mean kill him?"
Clarence Leiter - "You won't have to, he'll die anyway... if you play your cards right."
Gadget;- a silencer-equipped walking-cane gun
Torture scene; - The bad guys use a pair of pliers on Bond's toes (Hey it's 1950s American TV after all).