Casino Royale

If critics could jump ahead of time and see the meaning of things before their eyes at present, “the bitter steps” would not have to be trod, but that’s the nature of criticism, it’s like science in that respect. “God waited six thousand years (i.e., since Creation) to reveal it,” said Kepler, “it can wait a hundred years for a reader.”

The greatest spy who ever lived, “the real, original James Bond”, dwells in Palladian splendor on a country estate full of lions. The reference is to M-G-M’s Leo, the theme is Ars gratia artis. “Joke shop spies” are loathsome to him, he is called back into service against Dr. Noah and SMERSH when his own home is destroyed by M, who dies in the gambit.

M’s widow, Fiona McTarry, is impersonated by Agent Mimi of SMERSH, his eleven daughters are supplied from International Mothers’ Helpers of East Berlin, a front. The purpose is to break the devotion of 007, “his morality, his vows, and his celibate image,” as Dr. Noah puts it. Lady Columbia not infrequently has the melancholy aspect of the widow McTarry.

All agents, male and female, are to be identified henceforth as James Bond 007, says Bond replacing M. He obliges millionairess Vespa Lynd to engage a baccarat expert against Le Chiffre. Evelyn Tremble, now known as James Bond, wins and his adversary’s life is forfeit to his own SMERSH bankers.

Le Chiffre holds an international art auction, his collection comprises blackmail slides or “films” as they are called. Mata Bond, 007’s daughter by Mata Hari (whom, to his sorrow, he had to see executed) flushes the collection at her mother’s dancing school. This is the scene with DER SEXY neon and BLAUE ENGEL signs in West Berlin at night and over the Wall a bare red East Berlin.

The Wizard of Oz unveiling of Dr. Noah as Jimmy Bond, 007’s hapless nephew, takes away his stentorian voice and mystique but makes him garrulous, he tells all. Leading world figures are to be replaced by doubles under his command, a bacillus will make every woman beautiful and destroy all men taller than 4’6”. He is undone by his own invention, a time-release capsule that is an atom bomb.

Every good 007 goes to Heaven, Jimmy is sent to Hell.

A theory of art is stated, a stern criticism provided for, New Hollywood foretold.

The five directors who signed it as a manifesto include Val Guest, whose Break in the Circle is integral to From Russia with Love.