1960s Casino Royale parody shattered No Time to Die First’s biggest taboo

No Time To Die differs from previous Eon Production films, but that taboo was first broken in the 1967 Casino Royale parody.

James Bond’s death in No time to die is unprecedented in the previous 24 episodes of the Eon Productions film franchise, but the taboo subject of the secret agent’s death was first broken in the 1967 parody Casino Royale. The concept of Bond’s death has undoubtedly been flirted with in many previous canonical films, but it is always ultimately avoided. While Bond’s death is conducted very differently in No time to die that in Casino Royale (1967), it is nonetheless fitting that such a bold scriptwriting decision – which guarantees protest from some viewers – has already been taken, ironically enough, in the form of a parody.

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Casino Royale (1967) enjoys an excellent cast and achieved box office success, but received generally poor critical reviews. The film sees David Niven as Sir James Bond, a retired secret agent who defends celibacy. He returns to active service to fight SMERSH, a counterintelligence agency. Sir James isn’t the only Bond, however: an attempt to confuse SMERSH sees MI6 agents adopt the name, while villainous Dr. Noah is revealed to be Sir James’ nephew, Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen). After being tricked into consuming one of his biochemical weapons, Jimmy Bond makes his way to an atomic explosion, killing himself, Sir James and the other Bonds. The film then suddenly ends with a playful melody as the Bonds are shown to Heaven and Jimmy Bond descends to Hell.


Related: No Time To Die Makes A 1960s Bond Movie More Likely

The concept of James Bond’s death is unexpected in canon: the character is constantly in situations of considerable lethal risk, but his unimaginable survival is usually the essence of the films. Bond Escape Death is such a entrenched role model in the Eon Productions franchise that viewers will always anticipate him no matter how endangered he becomes. Obituaries are written on Bond in both Fall from the sky and You only live twice, and the two soon realized they were premature. In Casino Royale (1967), and now No time to die, however, obituaries are absolutely necessary. Casino Royale (1967) marks Bond’s first on-screen death. It characterizes the genre of parody by abruptly killing a character who, in the canon, seems immortal, and then almost immediately rolling the credits. No time to die contrasts that with a poignant portrayal of Bond’s final moments – an act made perhaps even more surprising by the fact that Bond’s only ‘real’ death before took place in a parody.



Daniel Craig as Bond in No Time to Die

Like the Bonds from the parody film, the conflicting ending of No time to die sees Daniel Craig’s Bond killed in an explosion, in particular by missiles from his own country (a detail rather worthy of a parody). The nature of his death, however, is strictly solemn. Bond realizes that Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) exposed him to nanobots designed to kill Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) if they touch her. Bond therefore awaits his death with missiles intended to destroy the impending biological weapons lab, ensuring that Madeleine cannot be exposed to the nanobots that now reside within him. Bond speaks one last time to Madeleine and she confirms to him that Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet) is his daughter. Rather than a fanciful representation of the afterlife, No time to die follows Bond’s death with Madeleine recounting Bond’s legacy to Mathilde. The soundtrack of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service plays as the pair walk through a tunnel that appears to represent the iconic, now-devoid of Bond weapon cannon sequence.


Craig’s five films act as an iteration within the canon. Its beginnings in the years 2006 Casino Royale began with Bond’s first kills and obtaining 00 status. As such, Bond’s death in No time to die does not disturb any sense of continuity in the franchise. Bond’s mortality taboo is exacerbated by its initial portrayal as a satirical feature of the 1967s Casino Royale. Still, the unexpected conclusion at least ends Daniel Craig’s iteration of James Bond and sheds light on a genre that has been modernized to move the franchise forward, at best. The credits state, as traditional, “James Bond will return,“and any debate over whether to kill James Bond will likely dissipate as soon as a new actor enters the canon streak.


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