(Reposted from Blurred Productions)
Bond Actor: Barry Nelson (Age: 37)
Bond Country of Origin: America
Women Slept With: Sort of 1 in a chaste 50’s kind of way
Villain’s Evil Scheme: To win back the Soviet money he lost gambling by gambling more!
“Boy!” says the early 1950s television producer. “We sure do like this James Bond character! But he’s just so British! That shit just won’t do Ian Fleming. British people have to be boring and stuck up! No American audience would ever buy a British secret agent”
“But James Bond is so thoroughly British he pisses room temperature lager into an imperial pint glass!” cries Ian Fleming. ” I can’t possibly make him a Yank!”
“Here’s some cash.”
“How does Jimmy Bond sound? Much more Continental, I think.”
This is about how I imagine this first glimpse of James Bond on screen anywhere came to be. James Bond of MI6 is Jimmy Bond of the “Combined Intelligence Agency” and as American as subverting black culture. For whatever reason Felix Leiter is still around as Clarence Leiter of British Intelligence Station S. Mathis and Vesper are melded into Vesper Mathis. Le Chiffe is the only one who remains unchanged because I guess being a degenerate gambler was enough of an indignity.
The plot is almost straight adaptation of the same-named novel, with badly indebted Soviet spy/union organizer Le Chiffre risking everything he has left in high stakes baccarat to keep himself in Moscow’s good graces and dashing secret agent Bond playing against him to sink him for good. Bond is clearly shown to be the best at this random game of chance by playing double or nothing against Le Chiffre until he is broke, then doing exactly the same thing again with Mathis’ money until Le Chiffre is similarly broke. The plot build up and gambling scenes are exactly as thrilling as they sound. Also there’s some blackmail side plot involving killing Bond’s old flame Vesper (who I guess was also a French agent) if Bond wins.
When Bond wins (obviously) he is assaulted by Le Chiffre’s goon squad of geriatrics, who torture him in vague, off screen ways that seem to have no lasting effects on him. Then he escapes and kills them (obviously). The End. No epilogue, no resolution, the bad guy is dead and Bond gets the girl that he had already gotten at some previous, unspecified time.
This is the nightmare Bond that could have been. Everything that is James Bond is twisted into something weird and cheesy and lame. 50s morality and the Hays code means that the action occurs off screen or dangerously sedated. The best part of the film/show is Peter Lorre and that is more of a “that guy’s kinda creepy” kind of way rather than a “he really seems threatening” way. There but by the grace of Connery did we go.
Bond Rating: S out of (Whatever the Americanized version of) SPECTRE (would be)