Can baccarat be dramatic?

Cliff Robertson in “The Game,” a 1965 episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.

Since the start of the 21st century, the most critically acclaimed James Bond film was Casino Royale (2006). Eon Productions finally had its hands on the rights for the first Ian Fleming Bond story.

Still, Eon made one significant change: Bond and the villain Le Chiffre would duel over a game of poker (very popular at the time of production), rather than baccarat or chermin de fer. The latter, essentially is like blackjack except you’re playing to 9 instead of 21.

With the 2006 movie, Casino Royale rode the enthusiasm for poker. Stories SUCH AS THIS ONE said Eon Productions concluded poker was more dramatic than baccarat.

Earlier movies made by Eon Productions used chemin de fer/baccarat as a setting. They included Dr. No (Bond playing against Sylvia Trench), Thunderball (Bond playing against Largo), and For Your Eyes Only.

Still, before Casino Royale, other spy (and non-spy) productions utilized chemin de fer/baccarat settings. Some examples:

Climax! “Casino Royale” (1954): The first James Bond adaptation was a 1954 episode of Climax!, a CBS anthology show. It featured an American Bond (Barry Nelson) dueling with a version of Le Chiffre played by Peter Lorre.

Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre: The third-season debut of the anthology show featured Cliff Robertson and Dina Merrill in a drama directed by Sydney Pollack. A Midwestern businessman stumbles into a high-stakes game of baccarat. Pollack, in one of his early directing credits, uses dutch angles to emphasize how the lead character has gotten in over his head. The episode includes a score by John Williams.

Here’s the episode:

Mission: Impossible (season 1): “Odds On Evil”: The Impossible Missions Force out-swindles a Middle Eastern dictator. The final showdown occurs between the dictator (Nehemiah Persoff) and IMF operative Rollin Hand (Martin Landau). The dictator is playing with marked cards. When Rollin has one-upped the dictator, the latter is stunned. “That is impossible.”

Rollin responds: “Your highness, in baccarat, nothing is impossible.”