Casino Royale: 1953 television adaptation [YouTube]

Although many believe Sean Connery is the first actor to have played James Bond, Barry Nelson took on the role eight years earlier in a television adaptation of Casino Royale. Here we present the television version to watch on YouTube.

Watch the TV version of Casino Royale above. Click the YouTube logo (bottom right) to watch on YouTube, where you can watch it full screen.

While it is fairly well known that James Bond’s first screen appearance was a full eight years before Sean Connery stepped into 007’s shoes, few people appear to have watched the 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale, made by CBS as part of the Climax! series.

CBS paid Ian Fleming $1,000 for the rights to his first Bond novel, which is the reason it was not included in the deal with Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli when they joined forces to bring 007 to the big screen. That resulted in the 1967 movie spoof and years of wrangling until MGM/Eon finally won control of the film rights in 1997 in a settlement with Colombia and Kevin McClory.

The TV version is just 50 minutes long and looks very different from the James Bond we are familiar with. Also notable are the casting of an American actor as James Bond, while Clarence Leiter is British and Vesper Lynd becomes Valerie Mathis. Despite the nationality and name The story is a fairly faithful adaptation and Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre is probably the highlight.

It is easy to dismiss as low-budget television, but essential viewing for any serious Bond fans. While the scene with the carpet beater is absent, Le Chiffre does capture Bond in his hotel room and tortures him in order to force him to reveal reveal where he has hidden the cheque and is gripping all the same.


Barry Nelson
James Bond
Peter Lorre
Le Chiffre
Linda Christian
Valerie Mathis
Michael Pate
Clarence Leiter
Eugene Borden
Chef De Partie
Jean Del Val
Gene Roth
Kurt Katch
William Lundigan

Note: Although the version uploaded to YouTube is currently working, the copyright holder may request for it to be removed in the future.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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