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Thunderball (1965)

James Bond

Best poster ever... sadly it's for the soundtrack
Best poster ever... sadly it's for the soundtrack

Bond: Sean Connery (Diamonds Are Forever You Only Live Twice)

Bond Girl: Dominique 'Domino' Derval  Played By: Claudine Auger (Twitch of the Death Nerve)
Bond SuperVillain: Number 1 (Credited as '?')  Played By: Anthony Dawson (Dr. No From Russia With Love)
Bond Villain: Largo AKA Number 2  Played By: Adolfo Celi (Grand Prix OK Connery)
Villain's Goon: Vargas  Played By: Philip Locke ("The Avengers")

Genre: Action Adventure Thriller (UK) 

Directed By: Terrence Young (Dr. No From Russia With Love)

Overview: When the world is held hostage under threat of nuclear attack by SPECTRE, James Bond heads out to the Bahamas in the hope of finding two stolen Vulkan bomber warheads before the ransom deadline.


Any movie that starts with Tom Jones performing the opening title song… well that's a hard act to follow. And though Thunderball doesn't kick into high gear anywhere near as quickly as that awesome song did, it does finish with the best Bond climax yet… Er, maybe I should rephrase that...

We have in Thunderball a big film in almost every way. It's the longest film in the series yet at 130 minutes. It has the biggest budget yet, triple that of Goldfinger's $3 million, and it had Bond playing more the assassin than the spy at a glorious 13 personal kills, snappy, punny one-liners included. The title of the film was most likely inspired by the sound James made in his first underwater porking scene, of which we the viewer sadly see only bubbles. Oh and of course the famed climax, which, without spoiling it, included 40 divers in one scene.

James Bond: That gun, it looks more fitting for a woman.
Emilio Largo: You know much about guns, Mr. Bond?
James Bond: No, but I know a little about women.

Though slow to start, the fourth film in the Bond vault is unique in that it explores the villainous plot at great length in an extended prelude. Our favourite global terrorist group, SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion A.K.A. SPECTRE, commences their plan of acquiring the nuclear warheads they need to put their plan to the second phase: holding the world hostage for ransom. When James Bond finally does show up, he's nowhere near as suave and successful as he's been in previous films. His mission is rife with difficulties and dare I go so far as to say failures. That's right, Thunderball's premiere Double 0 agent is actually fallible and of course, this just serves to heighten the suspense, the drama and the character that is Señor Bond.

There are quite a many thing that set Thunderball apart from James' other previous filmic escapades. As you all can see, I'm a great fan of the silhouette, and after much anticipation, Thunderball is the first film that includes the silhouetted nude dancer in the opening credits. I am led to believe this will now forever be the case. And look at that she's even swimming, isn't that nice!

When Bond discovers that the Bond Girl is actually a 'Dong Girl'
When Bond discovers that the Bond Girl is actually a 'Dong Girl'

Bond Cars:
We have in Thunderball another film which featured very little car time. In the pre-credit mission we find him again, for a very short time, in the souped-up Aston Marten DB5. While in Nassau, on the actual Thunderball mission, he once pulls up in a 1965 convertible Lincoln Continental, though I'm not convinced that I shouldn't be classifying this thing as a boat…

Bond Gadgets: Well, we have another first, in that there are 2 sets of gadgets obviously given unto Bond by Q - in the pre-credit sequence he has the aforementioned Aston Masten DB5 as well as a Jetpack, which, no shit kiddies, is an actual working jetpack, the Bell Rocket Belt. During the actual Thunderball mission, Bond is assigned:

Homing Pill 
A 4-minute underwater air supply 
An underwater jet pack complete with smokescreen and harpoon spears
A diving watch with a Geiger counter inside
an infra-red underwater camera
Miniature flare gun

Oh he's geared up to the gills in this one.

Where Goldfinger reluctantly bumped my favourite film from Dr. No, Thunderball is without a doubt my proud new favourite. And though I quickly hope it is replaced by an even more unforgettable Bond, I suspect this undersea adventure will stay at the top of my favorites list for quite some time.

Domino and do me don't
Domino and do me don't

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 9 

Other neat tidbits:
Largo's ship was entitled Disco Volente, which means Flying Saucer.

When Tom Jones recorded the title song, he passed out from keeping that last long note.

That unbelievable looking sky-hook system used just before the end credits to pick up Bond and Domino from a life raft is real. Furthermore, the B-17 shown in the film was the actual aircraft used in Operation Coldfeet, the first operation to successfully use the sky-hook system in the field.

Thunderball was highest grossing film of 1966, beating out the second and third placers Doctor Zhivago and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Overall Rating: 84% (Makes A Splash)

Personal bodycount: 13!

Foiled Assassinations: 5

Near Misses: 1

Dames Bedded: 3

Martinis Drank: 1

What's all this?

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