Even avid Bond completists would probably concede that the first film take on Casino Royale
is a film with its fair share of problems. Starring Peter Sellers, Woody Allen and with David Niven as James Bond, it was released in the late 1960s as a comedy, and even though it’s an uneven film, and far from a classic, it is an enjoyable one.
It’s also a film of random madness, a million miles away in tone from the eventual second pass at the source novel, which saw Casino Royale
return to the screen with Daniel Craig in the lead role.
The Blu-ray release gets a lot right. The presentation of the film, for starters, is strong. Appreciating the age of the materials being worked with here, there’s been real and appreciated effort made to ensure the visual and audio work is brought across well. Burt Bacharach’s music is a particular beneficiary.
With regards extra features, there’s a welcome and interesting making of documentary, which digs into the story behind the making of the film. It doesn’t dig particularly deep, certainly, but it covers the many assorted problems, and brings in contributions from those involved at the time. There’s also a really interesting commentary track from 007 historians, which offers plenty of things you more than likely were unaware of.
Casino Royale may not be an essential Bond film, and it may not be an essential disc. Yet it’s a good release, with interesting content, and perfect for both the curious and the completist. --Jon Foster
When secret agency chief "M" (John Huston) is killed, Sir James Bond (David Niven) is thrust out of spy retirement to help smash SMERSH, the band of hitmen who are likely responsible. And to protect his real identity, Bond’s name is given to numerous other agents, including Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) and Bond’s neurotic nephew, Jimmy (Woody Allen). With five directors, a cast of Hollywood icons that also includes Ursula Andress, Charles Boyer, Peter O’Toole, Jacqueline Bisset and Orson Welles, a soundtrack by Burt Bacharach, and a frisky, farcical script, Casino Royale
is Bond. Psychedelic Bond.