Bond and casinos – it’s a combination that has gone hand in hand from the very first moment we were introduced to the world’s top-secret agent. With the 25th big screen adventure set to be released in a few short weeks, there’s no better time to get into the mood by remembering some of our favorite moments from across the years.
Bond, James Bond
When we say the first moment, that’s no exaggeration. Revisit Dr. No if you’ve not seen it lately and you’ll see that the opening scene takes place in a casino. The game is Chemin de Fer, a version of baccarat, and the setting is traditional English post-war opulence, all cigars, and glasses of brandy. It’s a far cry from today’s more accessible online casino culture at sites like Cherry Casino but it set Sean Connery up for the line that’s gone down in history. “I admire your luck, Mr…?” enquires the beautiful Sylvia Tench. Connery pauses to light his cigarette before uttering those magical words: “Bond, James Bond.”
Largo and Larger
The casino scenes in Bond are more than just a setting. The games represent a battle that is no less intense than Bond’s many fistfights, but in which the protagonists are immaculately dressed and seated in the most opulent settings imaginable. In Thunderball, you can see the principle in action. Again, Bond is playing Chemin de Fer and while he and the villain Emilio Largo pretend to be unaware of each other across the table, the tension is palpable. More than 50 years on, and you can still almost hear the testosterone crackling!
In Diamonds are Forever, we get our first and, to date, only, the sight of Bond playing craps. The action takes place in Las Vegas, and with a love interest called Plenty O’Toole as his muse, we can see that the Bond films are preparing for the Roger Moore era to come. Of course, Bond walked away from a winner, and he even shared the $60,000 with his unfortunately-named companion. Fun fact – while the casino in the movie is given the fictitious name Whyte House, the scenes were actually filmed in Circus Circus on the strip.
Out for Revenge
The 1989 outing License to Kill is possibly one of the grimmest and serious movies in Bond history. It’s the one where Timothy Dalton’s Bond goes rogue to avenge his old friend Felix Leiter. Drugs baron and casino owner Franz Sanchez soon comes onto his radar, and Bond makes himself known by taking the house for a quarter of a million dollars at the blackjack table.
Back where it all began
Casino Royale is the original Bond tale and its retelling in 2005 has a guaranteed place in history among the top Bond films ever. The whole story revolves around a casino game, and changing it from baccarat in the original to poker in the movie was something of a masterstroke. The acting and direction are top-notch, and you feel the tension as if you were right there at the table.
The fights, explosions, and gadgets are great, but it’s moments like this that Bond is all about. Let’s hope there’s plenty more to come from whoever takes the mantle from Daniel Craig.