The Cast of Characters:
James Bond 007
(David Niven). The one, the only, the original James Bond. Until he orders every MI5 agent to take the name of James Bond to “confuse the enemy”. Suave and debonair, yet strangely prudish and foppish. Forced out of retirement to fight the evil forces of SMERSH.
Evelyn Tremble AKA James Bond 007
(Peter Sellers). Shy, mousy fellow who’s the world’s leading expert on baccarat (out of a field of ten). Gets recruited by MI5 to defeat the villainous Le Chiffre at bacarrat, and to act like a dick all across Europe.
Vesper Lynd AKA James Bond 007
(Ursula Andress). Sexy former spy and high-powered wheeler and dealer. Once had a fling with Bond (Niven version), and now has a fling with Bond (Sellers version), whom she pimps—I mean, recruits to face off against Le Chiffre.
Ms. Moneypenny AKA James Bond 007
(Barbara Bouchet). The daughter of the previous Moneypenny, she somehow inherits the role of Bond’s assistant. Has an inexplicable American accent and mesmerizing blue eyes. Does very little, but I’d watch two hours of her reading the phone book. The #1 reason to watch this film.
Mata Bond AKA James Bond 007
(Joanna Pettet). The illegitimate daughter of Bond (Niven version) and Mata Hari (a slight anachronism, there), Bond enlists her in the fight against SMERSH. Does little besides squeak out lines in an overly precious British accent, and look damn good in a belly dancer costume. The #2 reason to watch this film.
Lady Fiona AKA Agent Mimi
(Deborah Kerr). The widow of this movie’s M (well, sort of), and a SMERSH agent who tries to seduce Bond (Niven version). Embodies every cliché about the Scottish ever uttered in history. The primary reason this film ran over budget is because Deborah Kerr chewed up all the scenery.
(Orson Welles). This movie’s heavy (in every sense of the word). A SMERSH agent who desperately needs to recoup his baccarat losses. Instead of simply filming more wine commercials, he goes up against James Bond (Sellers version), which doesn’t say much for his chances.
(Woody Allen). Nephew to James Bond (Niven version). The most neurotic spy ever. Reveals a dark side in the movie’s final act. Not “marrying your stepdaughter” dark, but still pretty dark.
(Note: A couple of the images in this intro come from the Casino Royale pictorial in the February 1967 issue of Playboy. Ted Strong at tedstrong.com has done the entire world a favor by scanning most of that pictorial. Check out his site for the rest of the images and much more about this movie.)