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Casino Royale

Though the name of the new Bond installment implies risky betting, the positive buzz surrounding the flick suggests you might want to double down and bring a date. Starting at the very beginning, Casino Royale is being compared to the recent Batman Begins, another movie that revitalized a franchise by finding a new lead actor to inhabit the icon, using a script free of beloved conventions teetering on the edge of cliches. Bond 21 is largely free of campy supervillains and impossibly slick spy gadgets, and the return-to-basics result is already breaking box office records in the U.K., and it’s poised to do the same here. Here are our conversation tips sure to put a royale flush on the cheeks of your date.

1. James Blond: Daniel Craig, better known in this country as “That guy from Munich,” or “That guy who was in that British movie with Jude Law’s ex-girlfriend,” was selected to be the new Bond, allegedly over 200 other actors, with rumored contenders like Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman and ER’s Goran Visnjic. Some early reviews are calling him the best Bond since the classic Connery, but initially the decision was met with skepticism and outrage from purists, insisting that the actor was too short (at 5’11”, he’s two inches shy of an adequate Bond), and that his blue eyes and light hair contradict the dark Ian Fleming vision of the hero. The outcry led to several previous Bonds to come out and publicly support the casting decision.

2. A Novel Idea: Casino Royale was the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, and according to, EON Productions have filmed the entire body of Fleming James Bond books.

3. For Your Ears Only: One Bond tradition not dispensed with here is an original main title theme song performed by a well-known musician. However, handing the reins to Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame for a track called “You Know My Name” seems a little left field, considering prior films have called upon musicians who rarely rock any harder than a CD you might hear at during a Sunday morning trip to Starbucks (yes, we’re talking about you, Sheryl Crow). Still, many of the Bond songs have become successful singles (like Madonna’s “Die Another Day”), and Sheena Easton’s rendition of “For Your Eyes Only” was an Oscar contender for Best Original Song. But if you’re anything like us, the whole “Best Bond Song” debate begins and ends with Duran Duran’s “View to a Kill.”

4. Poker? I Barely Know ‘Er! In a move to update the novel for modern audiences, instead of playing Baccarat (or “Chemin de Fer” from the novel) at the titular casino, there is a high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em. Luckily, Dave Foley won’t be commentating this round.

5. May we suggest “Mona Lott”?: Some of the best remembered Bond girls in the canon came with sexually suggestive names (mocked in Mike Myers’ Austin Powers movies with doppelgangers like “Ivana Humpalot”). Eva Green, as new love interest Vesper Lind, luckily won’t have to sign borderline pornographic autographs for the rest of her life, but we suspect the bombshells who played Dr. Holly Goodhead, Pussy Galore, Xenia Onatopp, Honey Ryder, and Miss Goodthighs (from the 1967 non-EON produced and therefore “unofficial” Casino Royale) haven’t been as lucky.

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