Thunderball (1965)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Classic Bond

Long underwater scenes, takes a while to get going

 

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Thunderball

Studio:  Danjaq

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 9, 1965

MPAA Rating:  PG

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The James Bond that had everyone asking for a jetpack

SPECTRE has a new plot.  The theft of a jet carrying nuclear missiles has armed them with the perfect tools for blackmail.  As SPECTRE threatens a strike on U.S. and Great Britain cities, the leaders of the free world might have to submit.  James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to the Bahamas to investigate a lead on the stolen plane and finds himself facing SPECTRE’s Number 2 Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi).  Teaming with Largo’s companion Domino (Claudine Auger), James Bond must move fast to prevent a nuclear attack.

Directed by Terrence Young, Thunderball is the fourth film in the James Bond franchise and is based on the 1961 novel by Ian Fleming.  Following the immensely popular Goldfinger in 1964, Thunderball was released to positive review.  Its theme song “Thunderball” was performed by Tom Jones.  The film won an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects.  Legal problems with the rights to Thunderball stretched for years (it was supposed to be the first Bond film at a time).  This battle resulted in the non-canon Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again in 1983 starring Connery.

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I don’t do clever quips with a regulator in my mouth!

Thunderball is classic Bond.  It is loaded with high tech spy equipment, dangerous women, and James Bond quips.  Combine this film with Goldfinger, and you can see how James Bond slowly evolved into one of the premiere action franchises of all time.

The story of Thunderball captures everything that makes James Bond great.  You have a somewhat realistic worldwide threat (terrorists) and only one guy can stop it.  Bond suavely continues his trend as worst “secret” agent as he inserts himself in the Bahamas and barely keeps from being killed multiple times.  The danger feels much more real in these early Bonds and with a much more fallible Bond, the twists of the plot aren’t always predictable.  Most of the movie is unrealistic, but the sheer fun keeps that from mattering.

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Are you looking at my eyepatch…don’t look at my eyepatch!

Sean Connery still is Bond.  Even when facing immense odds, he plays it cool and collected and really does feels natural at it.  Claudine Auger as the featured “Bond woman” doesn’t really get to have enough screen time to call a judgment on her (though she mostly appears to be just looks).  She did beat out Julie Christie, Racquel Welch, and Faye Dunaway for the role.  Adolfo Celi is good as SPECTRE’s Number 2 (though his voice is dubbed by Robert Rietty), and I think could have even been a good Blofeld if he had the chance.  Luciana Paluzzi also plays a great femme fatale character in Fiona Volpe (though she’s no Pussy Galore).  I also always like it when Bond’s U.S. buddy Felix Leiter shows up and here he’s played by Rik Van Nutter (taking over for Cec Liner in Goldfinger).

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Hey guys! I just saw a big old stingray…it was awesome!

Thunderball continues the high-tech nature of Bond with things like jetpacks (in the opening scene), but it doesn’t quite reach the goofy nature of later Bond film.  This film’s big draw comes from multiple flashy underwater scenes.  Many complained that the scenes were too often and too long, but they are shot nicely (plus, that end underwater battle is cool).

It is obvious that Thunderball is one of Bond’s greatest films simply because of all the parodies that come from the movie.  If not for Thunderball, many of the jokes of the Austin Power series wouldn’t exist.  Thunderball is a must for James Bond fans and fans of action films in general. James Bond returned in You Only Live Twice in 1967 (though On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was originally planned for the follow-up).

Preceded By:

Goldfinger (1965)

Followed By:

You Only Live Twice (1967)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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