Peter Lorre’s Le Chiffre

Le-Chiffre-Dinner-Jacket

In the 1954 “Casino Royale” television play on CBS’s Climax!, the legendary Peter Lorre became the first actor to play Le Chiffre. Lorre wears a warm-weather dinner jacket like the dinner jacket Barry Nelson wears as Bond, but Lorre’s double-breasted dinner jacket is slightly lighter than Nelson’s buff (pale yellow-brown) or burma (pale red-brown) dinner jacket. Lorre’s dinner jacket is probably light buff, with lapel facings in a similarly-coloured satin silk. Anything but a self facing on a warm-weather dinner jacket’s lapels is not traditional, and it may have been trendy in the 1950s. The satin lapels add an unnecessary flashiness to the dinner jacket, but the flashiness is appropriate for a Bond villain.

Le-Chiffre-Dinner-Jacket-HomburgLorre’s dinner jacket has four buttons with one to button, and the two rows of buttons are evenly spaced about and below the waist. The jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and the jacket’s chest is clean but cut with a little fullness. This contrasts with the large shoulders, oversized fit and low button stance of Barry Nelson’s dinner jacket, which now looks very outdated. The natural shoulders and clean fit keep the corpulent Peter Lorre from looking any larger than he needs to, whilst the classic proportions and higher button stance keep the 5’3″ Lorre from looking any shorter than he needs to. He may be very short, and nothing can hide that, but he still looks as menacing as always.

The jacket also has three buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The type of buttons on the jacket is difficult to determine, but they are dark and very shiny like black mother of pearl. Lorre wears traditional black trousers—which probably have a black stripe down each leg and are supported by braces—with the dinner jacket. The white dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a wide placket. The black bow tie is in a thistle shape. Briefly, Lorre carries a black homburg hat with him, and you can see it on the table in the photo above.

Notice the different dinner jacket

Notice the different dinner jacket

In Lorre’s final scene, he wears a different, but very similar, dinner jacket. Either the original dinner jacket was damaged, or this dinner jacket is an accidental continuity error. This jacket doesn’t flatter Lorre nearly as well as the original dinner jacket does, which is because the new dinner jacket has larger shoulders and a lower button stance like Barry Nelson’s dinner jacket has. The lapels are darker and narrower, and the lapel peaks point more upwards than outwards like the original jacket’s lapels do. The buttons are white or cream. The top of the trousers shows at the bottom of the dinner jacket’s opening.

Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky wears a very similar dinner jacket in The World Is Not Enough.

“Card Sense” Jimmy Bond

Casino Royale (1954)

The first on-screen appearance of James Bond came with the “Casino Royale” television play on CBS’s Climax! in 1954, with Bond played by American actor Barry Nelson. In this production James Bond is an American agent with “Combined Intelligence” and nicknamed “Jimmy.” But also, he isn’t the best-tailored character, wearing an oversized dinner jacket. British agent Clarence Leiter (Michael Pate) in his black dinner suit and Le Chiffre (Peter Lorre) in his light-coloured, double-breasted dinner jacket both looked better tailored than Bond.

Casino Royale (1954)

Bond wears a light-coloured dinner jacket, which has been coloured “buff” in cover art, and I concur with the artist’s choice of colour. The dinner jacket is full-cut and very similar to the tailoring in Licence to Kill, with wide shoulders and a low button stance. The dinner jacket buttons one and has a shawl collar. It has no vents, jetted pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. The buttons are darker than the cloth, suggesting brown horn.

Casino Royale (1954)

Bond’s trousers are black and are most likely help with with braces. Sometimes you can see a hint of something dark under the jacket, and that is probably the braces. The shirt has a soft point collar, double cuffs and a placket front with 3 onyx studs, and the cufflinks match the studs. Bond wears a black satin batwing bow tie and a black satin cummerbund. The flower in his lapel is most likely a red carnation, which doesn’t look so appealing on black-and-white television. He also wears a pocket square, which is either red—to match the flower—or black.

Casino Royale (1954)