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Nov 25 2006

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Casino Royale faithful to Fleming – and authentic

Casino Royale faithful to Fleming – and authentic

by Bill Glasheen

Casino Royale was Ian Fleming’s first James Bond (007) novel. When it was introduced in 1952, it was quite racey by those days’ standards. Today however these are just "good books."

Those who grew up learning about 007 via the Hollywood screen rather than reading Ian Fleming have missed out on a lot. Gadgets and sex became more important than plot. In fact when you look at the original novels that many of the movies are based on, you’ll think that Hollywood had a disdain for plot. I guess that’s the result of B-rate directors and producers working with B-rate business people. Neither of them get it.

The movie Casino Royale which was just released Friday (November 17) is IMO the most authentic of all Hollywood renditions of Ian Fleming’s character. It’s been decades since I read Casino Royale, but I remembered what was coming next in the storyline. And yet I didn’t think that knowing the plot ruined the movie. Quite the contrary, the directors did a wonderful job of fleshing out a great story.

If you like 007 because of gadgets and random sex with beautiful bimbos, you won’t like Casino Royale. If you are a true martial artist – one who for instance has read Grossman’s On Killing – then you will totally get and deeply appreciate both the novel and the movie.

What I don’t get is why they chose to release this movie only in 2 theaters in my local cinema complex. I guess the business and Hollywood people once again don’t get it. I brought my boys out to eat sushi at a nearby restaurant on Friday, hoping that afterwords we could score the 10:40 PM show. All the earlier shows were selling out. They wouldn’t sell out a 10:40 PM show, would they? They did. I could not believe it. I have NEVER seen that happen. But this is what happens when the theaters stumble on a phenomenon which moviegoers and book readers get more than they do.

Go see the movie. I brought my 14- and 8-year-old boys to see it. I don’t recommend taking your kids to see shows about gratuitous violence. But that wasn’t the case at all here. The movie very much got into the personalities and psychological issues associated with this line of work. It’s the kind of thing I wanted my boys to see. It didn’t glorify the work of a 007. Quite the contrary, it put it into a very healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) perspective.

Four stars from me! This rendition of a Fleming novel deserves some awards.

- Bill Glasheen

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