The Making Of Casino Royale (1967) by Michael Richardson (book review)

November 18, 2015 | By | Reply More

Long before the Daniel Craig ‘Casino Royale’ film, there was the spoof version back in 1967 that, even in my pre-teen years, I had heard it was a messy filming, with much of the damage caused by actor Peter Sellers who thinking he was likely to be upstaged by Orson Welles, proceeded with a pre-emptive strike and often making a fool of himself, ironically, in the process. This was not helped by the fact that producer Charles K. Feldman having made ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ with him that made money gave him so much lee-way and indulgence in both script involvement and time off, couldn’t rein him in.


Michael Richardson’s book, ‘The Making Of Casino Royale (1967)’ draws upon several book sources and such to make a cohesive whole of what went on and the behind-the-scenes antics could surely make a film in its own right. Even one of its directors, Val Guest, thought this in one of his last interviews.

Prior to this and back in 1956, there were always plans for making a James Bond films before the rights were finally bought. There was thoughts to make Bond a female, played by actress Susan Oliver no less by 20th Century Fox. Things haven’t changed much over the decades. It’s also hardly surprising that film rights to Ian Fleming’s books were bought by three different people with Eon Productions creating the franchise and showing that Bond sold as well on the screen as in the novels.

There are some things I didn’t know. Cubby Broccoli, for instance, although not having the rights to ‘Casino Royale’ thought that a spoof film would indicate that the Bond films, three by then, had arrived and didn’t see it as opposition and if it wasn’t for scheduling might even have ended up as co-producers.

Seeing Sellers messing around so much made me side with Orson Welles in that the comedy actor was acting (sic) like an amateur. There are several times where Sellers seriously backfired in his one-upmanship and I’m amazed he had any friends left at the end of the film. A couple places where Sellers did realise he’d gone a little too far does show him trying to make amends just to keep some balance here.

Lest we forget, this is supposed to be a Bond film and David Niven and his part is also explored, as indeed every other detail about this film. It was also Woody Allen’s second film. If you look up actor Terrance Cooper on the Net, you can also see another contender who could have played Bond as well in the Eon films. Mind you, this ‘Casino Royale’ is loaded with James Bonds, used as a deception to ensure the original’s name lives on. I often wonder why a similar ploy isn’t used in the Eon films to explain the various Bond appearances over the years.

Something that I had forgot was that the song ‘The Look Of Love’, sang by Dusty Springfield, originated from this film. Burt Bacharach and Hal David had ten weeks to compose the music and once listened to you’ll always remember. It’s a shame that there isn’t a decently priced copy available on CD. With 2017, this film will be 50 years old and something I hope should be done.

The selected biographies at the back of the book ended up with me noting some films I hadn’t seen. One thing that did puzzle me was Richardson didn’t note, with the exception of Peter Sellers, who have died over the years as it seems an odd omission.

Finally, at the back of the book, it is noted that there was a producer’s cut making ‘Casino Royale’ nearly 3 hours long before it got edited down to 91 minutes and the piecing together of what scenes were removed. With much of this material gone, I doubt if there will ever be a directors (plural intended) cut.

There are many lessons learnt from this film and you can understand why studio suits tend to get edgy whenever a film is over-schedule and budget although I doubt if they use this ‘Casino Royale’ as the example, especially as it did actually make money for Columbia Pictures in the end. Certainly, Feldman acted like a film mogul but was throwing everything but the kitchen sink, although given the tools, he might well have done, at the film so it would have a massive cast, even if it was only cameos to make it a big production. The fact it worked at all was down to its five directors. There have been other spy spoof films since but none have dared with James Bond. Read this book and step into the past to find out. An enjoyable read.

GF Willmetts

November 2015

(pub: Telos. 237 page indexed small enlarged paperback. Price; £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84583-112-7)

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Category: Books

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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