The name is Bond, James Bond: a name synonymous with casinos. So synonymous in fact that the line was first uttered among the card tables of the fictional Le Cercle casino in London in the very first moments of the very first Bond movie: Dr No
James Bond life in the movies began in a casino. The first line ever spoken in Dr No is to the first Bond-girl, Sylvia Tench, and in that moment, as Sean Connery opens his cigarette case and gazes with smouldering eyes across the table, he took full ownership of the role. From that moment, Connery defined Bond. He is the actor all others are compared against. Incidentally, the game Bond plays with Sylvia Tench is baccarat (or chemin-de-fer) Ian Fleming's favoured game for 007.
Featuring one of the most original villains, Emilio Largo (played by Adolfo Celi), 007's fourth feature features a memorable scene with Bond and Largo in the casino in Nassau in a very public battle of wits where each fully knows who the other really is - without letting on. Connery and Celi work well on screen. There is the physical tension between eye patch-wearing bad guy and the smart, white tuxedo-wearing Bond (not to mention the sexy Domino played by Claudine Auger, a former Miss France). All done over a card game, naturally. The games sets the psychological tension brilliantly: Bonds wits against Largo's malice.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service;
One for the purists, the first Bond to be made without Connery features a scene shot in the Casino Estoril in Portugal where he meets Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, his future wife played by Diana Rigg. Bond rescues her when she makes a risky bet at the roulette tables.
Although a Casino makes a brief appearance as a backdrop to For Your Eyes Only, we have to wait until the casino scene (two actors later) in Goldeneye until one appears fully again. So, to the casino in Monte Carlo, for a movie that is pure Casino Royale in all but name. Here the camera lingers on the tables and the lights and onto Xenia Onatopp (played by Famke Janssen) the beautiful Russian agent who Bond beats at a game of baccarat (after losing heavily first). Here the game itself is featured heavily over several minutes as first Bond loses but then beat Onatopp once he has raised the stakes. The two spar across the table charged with sexual innuendo.
In 2006's reboot of Casino Royale, the film's producers switch from baccarat to poker (although interestingly the 1967 version of Casino Royale, actually offered the most detailed treatment of a baccarat game in any Bond film). The entire plot revolves around several games of Texas Hold'em between Bond and Smersh operative Le Chiffre. It is the Bond film with the most casino scenes, and the only movie where the actual game can be followed by real players. In the movie, Bond hopes to defeat Le Chiffre in the tournament in order to turn him for Mi6. The stakes are high: a minimum $10 million buy-in, but Bond initially loses and becomes angry when his treasury agent, Vesper Lynd, won't allow him a further $5m. However, like the US Cavalry, the perennial CIA agent Felix Leiter offers to stake Bond in exchange for custody of Le Chiffre. Back in the game, Bond begins to win back and so Le Chiffre and his associates attempt to kill him. This follows the same pattern we have seen in every Bond film. Bond loses heavily but always wins big in the end.
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