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Bond Pretitle Sequences: Casino Royale (1967)

Simon Pitt | Film | Sunday 3rd May 2015

I’m watching all of the Bond pre-credit teasers one after another.

All the Bonds. All the Gun Barrels. All the action. Well, the first five seconds of it.

Casino Royale (1967)

Forty years before Daniel Craig drowned a man in the toilets, there was another Casino Royale. Variously described as "a mess", "the most indulgent film ever made" or "a psychedelic, absurd masterpiece", the film featured an array of James Bonds and Ronnie Corbett as a robot. Eon only got the rights for Casino Royale back in 1999 after a sort of prisoner-exchange deal between MGM and Sony, where it was released in exchange for Spider-Man. It’s like the beginning of Die Another Day.

Casino Royale is certainly a strange film. The tagline, "Casino Royale is too much... for one James Bond!" refers to the fact that during the course of the film MI6 decide to name every agent "James Bond". In a way it’s a verification of Lee Tamahori’s theory from Die Another Day, that Bond is a codename. And, in another way, it’s like Blofeld’s plot in Diamonds are Forever: to make it impossible for the enemy to find the real one.

Of course, the film isn’t a proper Bond film. Well, it isn’t made by Eon. And it doesn’t have the gun barrel sequence at the start. Which, in my mind, makes it definitely not a proper James Bond film. It does, however, have a pre-title sequence.

It begins with Mathis looking for Bond. It’s funny how many characters who later turn up in the Daniel Craig Casino Royale are here. Vesper Lynn is here too, played by Ursula Andress no less.

"Mr Bond, these are my credentials he says." Mathis says.

"They appear to be in order," Bond says, and they leave.

I didn’t really get this sequence at first. It’s only twenty six seconds long; all shot in one continuous take. But as I started looking into it, I realised that Bond and Mathis are meeting in a pissoir. I didn’t really know what one of those were either, but its name gives a strong hint. In France (and a few other icky countries in mainland Europe) there is a real problem with urinating the streets, so councils have introduced open-air, street urinals.

Peeping Tom

I can’t say I know the etiquette of pissoirs, but Bond appears to be just sitting there relaxing. Either that, or he’s not using any hands. I can’t work out if that would be impressive or gross.

The joke of the scene is that when Mathis pulls out "his credentials", the shot suggests that he’s not showing an ID card at all, but something differently entirely and more anatomical.

Pissing your life away

The sequence is, of course, poking fun at the action-packed, dramatic openings of the Eon films. Although ironically, like the Eon films, the pre-credit sequence here sets up the tone for the film that will follow.

The idea of setting a Bond pre-credit sequence in a toilet was a comic undermining of the Eon films in 1967. But now, it fits in very well. Goldeneye, and the proper Casino Royale both features toilets too in their opening sequence. Is there some rule that all adaptations of Casino Royale must begin with a toilet, I wonder?

Name Rank and Number I think he got the Point Do all those vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men you've killed? Perfect for relaxing after a hard day at the office SP will return…


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