Original vs. Remake: Casino Royale (1954 vs. 2006)
It’s time for another Original vs. Remake. This time we’re comparing two adaptions of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. The comparison is between the 1954 television play adaption from Climax! and the 2006 official James Bond movie adaption from Eon Productions.
James Bond challenges the villain La Chiffre into a card game. La Chiffre is a criminal gambling with other people’s money and is desperate to win at a high stakes game. Despite constant interference from the villains and with the help of another secret agent, Bond is able to beat La Chiffre. Out of desperation, La Chiffre kidnaps Bond’s romantic interest, tortures Bond, but eventually winds up dead.
Original: The characters are more drastically altered from the novel. James Bond is an American agent (referred to as Jimmy several times in the film). Felix Leiter is changed to Clarence Leiter, a British secret service agent. Vesper Lynd is absent with Bond’s love interest being Valerie Mathis, a similar character who is innitially working with the villains.
Remake: The majority of the central characters are the same as in the novel.
Original: The entire movie takes place at the casino and hotel and starts with Bond’s entry to the Casino.
Remake: A large part of the movie’s opening half is set away from the card game and explains how La Chiffre lost his money (as well as how Bond becomes a 00-agent).
Original: The film retains the original setting of the novel which is in Paris.
Remake: The film relocates the action to Eastern Europe.
Original: La Chiffre has been spending Soviet funds.
Remake: La Chiffre tries to sabotage an experimental aircraft’s maiden voyage in an effort to game the stock market, a plot which Bond foils. La Chiffre loses the money of African rebels and has to win it back.
Original: Bond and La Chiffre go head-to-head in a game of Baccarat. The rules are explained during the play while Leiter briefs Bond on his mission.
Remake: La Chiffre and Bond play in a group game of Hold ‘Em Poker with several other players (including the undercover Leiter).
Original: La Chiffre’s henchmen try to muscle Bond out of the game three times. The movie starts with Bond being the target of a failed assassination attempt, one of La Chiffre’s men tries to get Bond to yield with a gun disguised as a cane and later Bond is threatened with harm to be done to Ms. Mathis via a note.
Remake: Bond’s distractions include being bluffed out by La Chiffre, being attacked by La Chiffre’s pay-masters and being poisoned.
Original: La Chiffre tortures Bond to get the cheque for his winnings which he’s hidden. He twists Bond’s toes with a pair of pliers.
Remake: La Chiffre tortures Bond to get the PIN code to his bank-account where he deposited the winnings. He strips Bond down, seats him in a bottomless chair and assaults his testicles with a length of rope with a knot at the end.
Original: La Chiffre finds the cheque but is killed by Bond when he manages to escape his bondage. He and Mathis get away scott free.
Remake: La Chiffre is killed by his paymasters who become displeased with him. Bond and Lynd are rescued. Lynd dies later trying to exchange the money for her boyfriend who was captured. (This ending is more in-line with the novel).
How is it better?
Original: It retains the original game of Baccarat and stays fairly down to earth without excessive techno gadgetry. The actor performances are more varied and interesting
Remake: The film greatly expands on the novel, delves more into Bond’s character and has a darker atmosphere.
How is it worse?
Original: You can tell that the play was performed live which explains the slightly weak line-delivery from some of the actors. Also, some of the sets look extremely cheap.
Remake: The film is a little high-flung and has some preposterous action-scenes.
Final verdict – Which one to see?
Remake – The original retains a lot of the classic elements from the Fleming novel but also unnecessarily alters and changes the story in ways that work against it. The remake is a more focused and intent film (which is probably not fair, considering Eon already had loads of experience with prior Bond movies). Both adaptions are interesting, but the Remake is a better movie.