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