1954 - Casino Royale (TV Episode Of Climax!)
Alternate Title - Torture Royale
NR - 58 minutes
Director - William H. Brown Jr.
Stars - Barry Nelson, Peter Lorre, Linda Christian
When I found out there was a television episode of a James Bond novel I have to admit I was excited to make fun of it. Much to my surprise it turned out to be fairly decent. It opens with James “Jimmy” Bond walking into a casino and a gunman in the shadows attempts to shoot him in the back. An assassin that apparently went to the Storm Trooper Academy of Aiming because despite being a mere six feet away he misses every shot.
Fast forward and Bond is in the casino and chatting with his contact. He informs Bond that he must bankrupt the villain, Le Chiffre, in a tournament of baccarat so that the super-villains have no choice but to kill Le Chiffre. Which really downplays how much of a villain your villain is if he’s in debt. The whole point of the plan is to get a third party to kill Le Chiffre so that Bond doesn’t have to. EXCITEMENT!
I should also mention that the guy that played Bond, Barry Nelson, looked like he was a 12 year old with makeup to make him look 50 so that he can play a 30 year old. It was confusing as all hell. Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre was great but completely incoherent at times because of either his accent or apparent alcoholism.
Much of the episode takes place in Bond’s room after he clears out Le Chiffre’s bankroll. Chiffre ties up Bond in a bathtub and appears to be brutally torturing his toes. I’m glad they did that instead of the novel’s version which is severe genital torture. However; since all of the actual torture is off screen, it’s possible there was some testicle play involved that was implied in the tone of a whisper. Despite being a 50's live TV show I found myself more invested in this than some of the actual Bond movies. Bond actually felt vulnerable for once. Almost every time he’s in trouble in the later movies he’s one gadget away from freedom but in this one he just gets his shit tortured.
Needless to say, Bond frees himself which leads to Bond and the villain shooting each other in the chests, which I found incredibly bizarre. Bond isn’t known to ever get hurt that badly in any of the movies. It should be noted that the actor that portrayed Bond was an American so the role is played more like a suave John McClane than the James Bond we know today.