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HTF REVIEW: "CaSiNo RoYaLe" (with screenshots)

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#1 of 30 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 14 2002 - 05:48 AM

Posted Image

CaSiNo RoYaLe

Studio: MGM
Year: 1967
Rated: NR
Film Length: 137 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English, Spanish & Portugese

The first time I saw Casino Royale was
at the age of 14. The year was 1977, and during
a special grade school assembly, we were treated
to a 16mm presentation of the film. Presented to
us as a James Bond parody, I remember that the film
was very slow, difficult to follow, and not very
funny. However, what I loved about the film was
how absolutely insane all of the psychedelic sets
and designs looked, topped off with a rather funny
performance by Woody Allen and a wild 12-minute
finale that has to be seen to believed!

25 years later, I still enjoy Casino Royale
for all the wrong reasons.

Posted ImagePosted Image

The true, one and only original James Bond (David
Niven) has gone into retirement, and Her Majesty's
Secret Service needs him to come back and deal with
SMERSH's arch-villain Le Chiffre, a Frenchman working
for the KGB. Bond is brought in, and he is given
command of MI6, selecting 6 other agents (Peter
Sellers, Ursula Andress, others) to work with him,
including his nephew "Jimmy Bond" (Woody Allen).
Soon Bond fears that SMERSH may be on to them. He
issues an order that, to confuse the enemy, all
active agents will be renamed "James Bond- 007".
While it sounds dumb, it prevents the bad guys
from being able sort one 007 from the other. The
film continues to unravel rather slowly, building
up into a hilarious climax inside the Casino Royale,
complete with cowboys and Indians!

Posted ImagePosted Image

Based upon Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel,
and produced completely by other people than the
rest of the 007 franchise, it's easy to see how
this film became such a sloppy mess. No less than
five directors were brought on board to direct
individual sequences that featured one of the main
characters. In the end, it seems that all these
sequences had to somehow be brought together in
a manner that only makes you shake your head and
wonder "Why?!".

On a visual level, this is film is complete eye
candy. The film's clever title sequence played
over Herb Alpert's recognizable trumpet is worth
playing more than once. The soundtrack by Burt
Bacharach is incredible, and easily among his best.
The Look of Love is still regarded as a

How is the transfer?

I have seen Casino Royale on many formats
over the years, and while not perfect, this is the
best it has ever looked. What stands out here is
a very clean print that is only occasionally marred
by film dirt and blemish. Filmed in Technicolor,
you would only expect that colors look fabulous here.
A bedroom scene early on in the film shows deep lush
red draperies that look amazing. Images are sharp
and well detailed with solid black levels. What is
most surprising here is the absence of any film
grain, giving this picture a smoothness not seen
previously on any format.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is also a surprise here.
They actually managed to keep the dialogue firmly
in the center channel with no bleeds to the front.
Sound is extremely strong and clear, with distinct
stereo channel separation. There's a surprising
amount of LFE channel support to the many explosions
that happen in the film. The rears are the only
disappointment here. They rarely add anything to
the overall mix except in a few short scenes where
it seems effects were just randomly thrown in the
channel. But you know what? I was pleasantly
satisfied with how well the mix sounded for a film
of this time period.

Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image

MGM has attempted to pour a little life into
this DVD by adding an interesting assortment of

Posted Image

In 1954, the television series Climax
performed a live rendition based on Ian Flemming's
book, Casino Royale. It starred Barry
Nelson as James Bond, and co-starred Peter Lorre
and Linda Christian. MGM is presenting this
Kinescope preservation for the first time on DVD.
To be honest, this 51-minute presentation was just
a little too difficult to watch, except for the
fact that I just love watching Peter Lorre.
(length: approx. 51 minutes)

Psychedelic Cinema introduces us to the
film's uncredited Director, Val Guest, who gives
us a rather detailed background as to how Casino
went from book to a project that Ian
Flemming had presented to David Niven. The idea
was originally presented for use on Niven's popular
Four Star Theater series, but was immediately
rejected. It wasn't until years later when the
idea changed into a comedic sendup of the James Bond
series that Niven jumped on board. The film quickly
became a huge production with a massive amount of
sets that spanned across many studios. One thing
I never knew about this film was that Sellers is
noticeably absent from the ending of this film.
Sellers became ill during production and his doctors
advised a 2-week rest for the actor. Producer
Charles Feldman was outraged, and terminated Seller's
contract. This caused a major re-edit in the film
and an interesting fix to the film's heavenly finale.
(length: approx. 20 minutes)

Also included in this DVD package is the film's
cleverly upbeat original theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts

Posted Image

Casino Royale a no-holds-barred parody of
the spy movie genre - 30 years in advance of Austin
Powers. Since it's a little tough to get through,
I recommend first-timers rent it first. Those
of us who grew up with the film, however, may also
find it hard to resist a purchase. Perhaps there
are many more of us that enjoy the film for all
the wrong reasons.

Release Date: October 15, 2002


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 30 OFFLINE   Neil White

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Posted October 14 2002 - 06:17 AM

It's on order. Can't wait for this one. I'm a sucker for this genre of movie and the soundtrack is great on this one. Thanks for the review Ron.


#3 of 30 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted October 14 2002 - 06:22 AM

And so another MGM laserdisc is retired... thanks for the review, Ron.

#4 of 30 OFFLINE   Beau


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Posted October 14 2002 - 06:34 AM

I'm only going to buy this because I'm a hard-core James Bond fan. I havent seen this or the '54 version. I'm not sure if I'll like it at all, because from what I heard many times, it is very unfunny and stuipid. But I'll see tomorrow.

#5 of 30 OFFLINE   Paul Bond

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Posted October 14 2002 - 07:07 AM

For all the wrong reasons? Well, perhaps. But the most important thing is either you like it or you don't.

Casino Royale is definitely a "like it" for me. As I get older the jumpiness (for lack of a better word) of the plot gets more and more obvious, but, like an old friend, I like it even more for its flaws.

I find the score to be the highlight of the movie as cute melodies intermix with 'musical jokes' (be sure to listen at the lions scene) (not really a spoiler, this is not a surprise).

Suspend all sense of reality, give Connery, Moore, et al a break, and turn your humor knob up all the way and enjoy.


#6 of 30 OFFLINE   SteveGon


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Posted October 14 2002 - 07:11 AM

Thanks for the review. This release will complete my James Bond DVD collection! Posted Image

#7 of 30 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted October 14 2002 - 07:22 AM

Thanks for the review, Ron. I've never seen it either, but for the price (about $12 or so), it's a no-brainer to complete my Bond collection (and also to add to my Woody Allen collection).

However, I just gotta comment on this:
The first time I saw Casino Royale was at the age of 14. The year was 1977, and during a special grade school assembly, we were treated to a 16mm presentation of the film.
Wow! What kind of school did you go to anyway?? Posted Image Was there some "educational" reason they showed you this, or was it just to keep all you hooligans occupied while the teachers had a meeting?? Posted Image

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:


* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.

#8 of 30 OFFLINE   David Lambert

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Posted October 14 2002 - 08:49 AM

Actually, I first saw this film much the same way Ron did. It was in 10th grade for me, though, IIRC.

I'm looking forward to completing my 007 collection with this title. I'm waiting for 10/20, though, to pick it up at a major national chain who will have it on sale for $12.99. Its for the best, after all.
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#9 of 30 OFFLINE   John Kilduff

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Posted October 14 2002 - 08:52 AM

Does the movie retain the Columbia Pictures logo, being as Columbia originally produced "Casino Royale"?


John Kilduff...

At least I remember the Columbia logo from the time I saw this on Encore a few years back.
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#10 of 30 OFFLINE   Marty M

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Posted October 14 2002 - 09:00 AM

I guess I am an old fart here. I remember seeing this movie when it was originally released in the theaters. I was a Senior in high school. I enjoyed the movie, but was thoroughly panned by the more traditional James Bond fans.

In the 1954 TV version, I have heard that the credits are not shown with this.
Apparently Peter Lorre is seen getting up when he shouldn't have at the end of the show.

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#11 of 30 OFFLINE   Jenna


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Posted October 14 2002 - 04:29 PM

I vaguely remember seeing this with my father when I was a little. I slept through most of it so I can only recall bits & pieces, specifically the score and the ending...as well as which "Bond" was the "bad Bond". Posted Image
Of course, I was too young to understand a "parody" so the whole thing was confusing to me.

So...I'll be picking this one up for mainly nostalgic reasons.

My Collection

#12 of 30 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted October 15 2002 - 03:29 AM

Definitely worth a watch. Thanks for another great review Ron!
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#13 of 30 OFFLINE   Jeff Bannow

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Posted October 15 2002 - 04:58 AM

The 1954 show is also being released by Spy Guise, Inc. on a special edition DVD. There will be a "commentary interview" with Barry Nelson included. You can check it out here. Price will be $24.95 available exclusively through their website.

- Jeff
1930s challenge - 88 to go.

#14 of 30 OFFLINE   HowieG



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Posted October 15 2002 - 11:19 AM

Alas, this "new" MGM release of Casino Royale is "sans" the Columbia Pictures logo (with all the controversy this picture has gone thru (over the years) I'm surprised that MGM even put their logo on it).

This crazy film meant so much to me in the sixties, what an incredible music score Burt Bacharach did for this. Some get what it's all about and like it, most don't, but who cares? I'm just glad it has finally emerged on DVD in region 1... :b

#15 of 30 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted October 15 2002 - 01:45 PM

I think the importance of the 1954 live TV broadcast is being seriously understated here. It's what makes the DVD a sure purchase. Even with the teleplay's portrayal of Bond as an American CIA agent, instead of a British secret agent, the TV episode remains a faithful adaptation (done live!) that preserves the spirit of Ian Fleming's original novel, which the film clearly doesn't do. MGM should be commended for including such a worthwhile and complementary supplement. It's ashame that it's being met with disinterest.
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Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper

#16 of 30 OFFLINE   David Lambert

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Posted October 15 2002 - 02:19 PM

It's ashame that it's being met with disinterest.
Not by me it isn't! I've been waiting for years to see this one! Posted Image
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#17 of 30 OFFLINE   Steve_Ch


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Posted October 16 2002 - 05:02 PM

Thanks Ron, the good transfer and audio (NOT talking 5th Element here) seal the deal for me. Good advise for those that are "uninitiated" to rent it firstPosted Image .
Marty, I am old fart two (too), as I saw the original release when I was in high school.
Some have said this is the "definitive" 60s movie, I tend to agree.

#18 of 30 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted October 17 2002 - 12:46 AM

Some have said this is the "definitive" 60s movie, I tend to agree.

I always thought that Our Man Flint, which came out a year earlier, did the spy-spoof bit better and is more steeped in that groovy '60s feel--plus it has a swinging score by Jerry Goldsmith.
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#19 of 30 OFFLINE   Frederic_A


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Posted October 17 2002 - 08:09 PM

Well, I'm in my twenties, so I wouldn't consider myself an old fart, Posted Image but I've always liked this movie for its hip 60s feel. Even though I knew the soundtrack before the movie, the last time I saw it only confirmed how much I like it. The fact that it doesn't make sense gives it kind of an absurd charm, not unlike the humour you would find in Monty Python. Of course, I had this preordered long ago, since the version available in Europe isn't anamorphic. I'm pleased to read that MGM seems to have taken this release seriously!

Just one thing, though: On the one hand, I have to congratulate MGM on serving up a passable DVD cover for once - the previous one was just atrocious! On the other, I can't really understand why films like these aren't presented with the original artwork. I would argue this even for mainstream releases like the other Bond films, but in this case, it should be clear that they are addressing a niche market. Granted, the intention was probably to visually associate it with the Austin Powers movies. But I also can't help but detect a hint of puritanism in the fact that the girl is only shown in silhouette... it will be interesting to see the European version of the cover (if it ever gets released, that is!).

#20 of 30 OFFLINE   Neil White

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Posted October 18 2002 - 12:14 PM


This link may answer your cover art question: