Oy Oy Seven!

THIS year sees the 60th anniversary of the publication of Ian Fleming's debut novel, Casino Royale.

The novel has been adapted into two film versions, released in 1967 and 2005 respectively.

Although not immediately obvious, we can regard both films, in some senses, as Jewish movies.

This was because Jews were largely responsible for orchestrating James Bond's transition and transformation from the page to the screen.

Renowned film producer Harry (Herschel) Saltzman optioned the film rights to the Bond stories after reading Goldfinger in 1961.

Together with Albert R Broccoli, he formed the EON (Everything or Nothing) Production Company, which still produces the films today.

In that first Bond book, the main antagonist, Le Chiffre, is found wandering in the Dachau displaced persons camp, apparently suffering from amnesia.

His name, presumably referring to his camp tattoo, simply means the number or digit. He is described thus: "Small ears with large lobes (indicating some Jewish blood)."

Consequently, many have accused Bond creator Fleming of antisemitism. What is more, it is alleged, he littered his stories with similar slurring references and gross caricatures, particularly in the forms of notorious villains.

In addition to Le Chiffre was Auric Goldfinger, based on the real-life Erno Goldfinger in the film that took his name.

The first version of Casino Royale, appearing in 1967, benefited from significant Jewish creative input.

It was produced by Charles K Feldman. Wolf Mankowitz contributed to the screenplay, as did Ben Hecht, Joseph Heller, and Billy Wilder.

The film starred Jewish actors Peter Sellers (as Evelyn Tremble and Bond himself), Woody Allen (as Jimmy Bond and 'Dr Noah') and Israeli Daliah Lavi.

Legendary director Orson Welles played Le Chiffre.

By the time the film was remade in 2005, however, it had been purged of any explicitly Jewishness.

This was because the Jewish creative team behind the franchise were not part of the production crew for the rebooted film.

Richard Maibaum, who penned many of the films, beginning with Dr No (1962), wrote his last script for Licence to Kill (1989).

Berlin-born Jewish émigré Ken Adam, aka Sir Kenneth Adam, who was the production designer on all the films from Dr No, ended with Moonraker (1979).

And Saltzman pulled out after the ninth film, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

As a result, the closest we get to any Jewish content in the 2005 version is that Daniel Craig, who played 007, had previously played a Jewish Mossad agent and partisan leader in Munich (2005) and Defiance (2008) respectively.

Incidentally, he is also married to British-Jewess Rachel Weisz.

Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that the international spy and quintessential symbol of Britishness that we know from the screen was largely the creation of Jews.

And although their input has radically declined, it can still be felt.

After all, British Jewish director Sam Mendes helmed Skyfall in 2012.

© 2013 Jewish Telegraph