Ranking the Bond Movies: #9 – Thunderball (1965)
“He always runs, while others walk…”
Da na NA NA na na!
Who doesn’t love Thunderball? It’s one of those quintessential Bond films. It has a bunch of scenes that have become hallmarks of the franchise. Plus — man — all those underwater scenes… perfection.
My only issue with Thunderball was that some of the sequences were kind of weak compared to other films of the franchise (specifically the Connery era, since that’s pretty much all that’s left on this list. We know it’s better than most of the Moore films, so it comes down to comparing it to the other Connery films). Of course, others were some of the strongest of the franchise, like that underwater battle. But other scenes — the final showdown on Largo’s boat, the opening sequence, that Mardi Gras chase — they’re just kind of weak to me. I just don’t enjoy this as much as the other eight films left on this countdown.
So really my only issues with the film are when I rank it among the others. Otherwise, I love the film.
The cold opening begins at a funeral. Of Colonel Jacques Bouvar.
Bond is there. James Bond.
Colonel Bouvier apparently died in his sleep. Too bad. Bond wanted to kill him himself.
“Is there anything else our French station can do for Mr. Bond?”
Bond then follows the colonel’s widow’s car.
I see an Aston Martin DB5! But we’re looking at the Lincoln Continental limo, which is also cool.
I live there on Tuesdays.
Bond is there to offer condolences.
Or something like that.
How did he know? The colonel opened the car door by himself.
Actually a pretty ridiculous fight scene. They just throw tables and vases and shit at each other.
But he does SNAP HIS FUCKING NECK at the end of it.
And the best part is after this as bad guys are breaking into the room and Bond takes the time to throw flowers on the corpse when he should have been run-ning.
As a human cannonball.
You’d think that would be the most ridiculous thing that could happen right now. No –
“If you want to view paradise…”
Why do I dislike the jetpack? Because it gets rust colored dirt all over the DB5. Come on.
Equally as ridiculous as anything Roger Moore’s ever done.
Uh…I wouldn’t say ANYTHING.
(Mike Note: You’re right. Equally as ridiculous as some stuff Roger Moore has done. Mostly the point was that not even Connery is immune to some ridiculousness. The difference is that Moore lived about two notches below this, whereas for Connery, this is like, a 9.5 when he usually doesn’t go past a 7.)
Though it does lead seamlessly into our opening credits, set to the immortal Tom Jones’s “Thunderball.”
Top five credit sequence for the franchise.
We begin, clearly, at the Vatican.
Where Emilio Largo is.
Not perfectly clear on whether or not this was product placement –
(Mike Note: No, that tower is in France all the time.)
– but there are certainly a lot of Fords and Lincolns in this movie. Largo’s driving a ’65 Ford Thunderbird, which is way better than Halle Berry’s 2002 Thunderbird.
(Mike Note: It’s funny that there’s more than one thing in this movie that’s one word and starts with thunder.)
He goes into an office building, presumably to go to work. Only –
Only that’s an office that only a Bond villain would have. And not just any villain –
Blofeld. (Though we don’t yet know him as Blofeld. For now he’s just #1.)
This is great Blofeld. He’s got the cat, the creepy voice, and he’s secretive even with his own people! Fantastically good office, at that.
(Mike Note: What’s funny is at this point, this could honestly be an Inspector Gadget movie and it would be hard to tell the difference.)
Largo is #2 for SPECTRE. #6 was Bouvar.
In the novelization, the numbers were apparently random, but it appears that Largo is actually the number two man. Then again, he’s only the head of Extortion, the last letter of the acronym.
(Mike Note: I like to think of it as divisional standings. Largo has the best record with things, so he’s the #2 guy. But it’s only because #3′s performance slipped since his wife left him.)
They then go over all the evil deeds they had to commit for homework.
Blackmail of a double agent.
Assassination of some dude.
Fee for a British train robbery.
Selling Chinese narcotics in the U.S.
Good, go– wait, that wasn’t the amount we were hoping to make.
Apparently Blofeld knows about that. He says one of them is skimming off the top.
He know which one it is, and knows what he’s gonna do to the person.
Another classic Bond villain move. Blofeld did it in From Russia With Love as well. You think he’s going to kill the guy who’s been talking, but he kills the other guy who’s smirking to himself, thinking he got away with it. Blofeld’s too smart for you, you little bastard. It also makes more sense here because while in other movies a henchman makes the surprise kill and you’re wonder how HE knew which guy to ice, Blofeld does it himself here.
Bye, bye, #9.
These guys are awfully nonchalant about sitting in these chairs. I don’t trust electricity. Stuff short circuits, things fail. There’s a decent chance that someone’s getting zapped for no reason. And to keep everyone in like, Blofeld would have to be all, “What the– uh, AH HA! Surprise! He was, um…informing for the CIA! All of you would have been compromised! Back to the meeting.”
(Mike Note: Reminds me of those gimmicks William Castle used to have for each of his films. For one of them, he installed joy buzzers under random seats in the theater, so throughout the film they’d randomly give each audience member a jolt, to make them jump and scream in their chair. Can you imagine what that would be like now? How could anyone attempt that nowadays? Also, wouldn’t it be great if corporations did this to executives when they fire them? Somebody should write that into a script. Just completely straight-face it. Have this happen at a board meeting. And then no one mentions it. Guy goes home to wife — “Stevens got killed today. If it weren’t for me closing that Bitterman account, that could have been me.”)
Largo then talks about his plan to hold NATO ransom for $280 million (£100 million). Their agent Count Lippe is making the preparations. He’s at a health clinic…
Count Lippe. How many massages today? One! Two! Three!
Guess who’s also at the clinic.
Bond notices Lippe’s tattoo. Lippe notices Bond noticing his tattoo.
“Maybe I should get a tattoo. Bitches love tattoos.”
Bond calls to ask about the tattoo. Who does he call?
He makes flirty flirty with her and then goes to check out Lippe’s room.
Always stop for a grape. Vintage Connery.
(Also, can we stop to appreciate who brilliant that vintage pun up there was? I don’t think anyone actually caught that one. Go back and read it. That’s a pun that’s so good you don’t even notice it.)
“Yeah, you know you want it.”
What a wonderful, lecherous bastard.
You can’t not love Connery for this. It’s only a kiss, so it’s acceptable, too.
I like how the response in the 60s to sexual harassment is “Behave yourself!”
This, and seeing guys drink all day at work on Mad Men really makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have been born around 1930. There’s a chance I’d have gotten polio, but then, I’d get to drink at work.
She decides to put him in that thing. A spine stretcher.
“By the way – tell me about that fucker who almost saw me.” This is the difference between Moore and Connery. Moore will always ask these questions before/during the sex. Connery will try to have sex, very blatantly, they’ll get angry, and he’ll be like, “Okay, instead of pissing you off about the sex, how about you tell me this?” and they’ll tell him, and then they’ll still have sex with him later.
“Well – the spine stretcher is on – nothing can go wrong – no potential fatalities here – see ya!”
In case you’re wondering what kind of imagery was involved here.
It’s funny cause Connery’s all Scotland this and Scotland that and they almost William Wallaced him.
Oh no! (Just like Catherine the Great…)
Facial expressions mean everything.
I might have just come around on this sequence. (Aside from the fact that I’m fucking hilarious) This is totally less ridiculous than the centrifuge sequence in Moonraker. Everything is less ridiculous when they turn it into a sexual metaphor.
“I must be six inches taller.”
“Better come along with me, spend a few minutes in the steam room. That should help to relax you.”
“Might even shrink you back to size.”
“Somebody’s gonna wish they had never happened.”
The one thing I always overlook with the Connery films is the subtext.
“You wouldn’t tell the doctor, would you? I could lose my job.”
“Well, I guess, I could…” (“Gotcha, bitch.”)
Oh yeah… extortion.
This is a win. If Moore had used the centrifuge scene as a pretense for sex or to kill a bad guy, I’d be more okay with it. Connery uses a new roll of toilet paper as a pretense for sex or to kill a bad guy.
“See you later,” he says, during this exact shot. Fucking wow.
Well look who it is…
And of course…
“Mink. It reduces the tensions.”
Aw, I know what you mean, and she’ll be dead in six years. Enjoy your titties now, Plenty.
Oh, and that’s Francois Derval.
And so is that.
Turns out that’s the bandaged dude who was at the clinic, Angelo. He and Lippe are pulling off SPECTRE’s plan. (They took his face — off.)
I guess she’s SPECTRE’s Q. (DD would be more like it.)
In some of the non-Fleming novels, there was a female Q, who Bond nicknames “Q’ute.” She isn’t really SPECTRE’s Q, though — you know that if SPECTRE had a Q, it’d be more of a fair fight. I’m just imagining all the MI6 people, but with different hair or colors, like Mewtwo’s clone Pokémon.
Angelo wants more money. They have no option, so they agree to pay him. (You know he dead.)
The question is, why? They’re getting $280 million dollars and he’s asking for an extra $150,000. Considering that he’s the linchpin of their master plan, that seems pretty reasonable to me. I can only expect that they were going to kill him either way, but in that case, wouldn’t they just be like, “Fine! Sure, take an extra $200k, we really appreciate you!” I find it hard to believe that SPECTRE is working on such slim margins that an extra $150k out of $280 million was their breaking point.
(Mike Note: It’s probably more the principle of the matter. Like, “Motherfucker, we’re the ones that extort people!”)
Meanwhile… at NATO…
Training exercise. (These things never go correctly.) They’re flying with two atomic bombs.
Again, why? I’m not sure that they flew with atomic weapons loaded during training exercises for precisely this reason. You don’t usually present an opportunity for nukes to go missing without absolutely having to.
Hah! A Mercedes ambulance! That’s cute.
“Damn. And I was hoping I’d get to fuck her again.”
The magic dick may cause withdrawals.
Standard scene. Very well cut. They do a good job of creating tension.
“Haven’t you had enough exercise for one evening?”
“Funny you should say that…”
Underwater landing lights. Badass.
Normally I’d wonder why the villain is getting his hands dirty like this, but in these early films, it makes perfect sense. If he doesn’t get shit done, Blofeld will fucking kill him. So he actually needs to make sure this doesn’t fuck up. (Unlike Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies, who has no reason to do anything himself. Even if his plan fails, he can still create another one.)
Shouldn’t have asked for more money.
Now let’s get those nukes.
This tarp is one of my favorite things in all of Bond.
This shot in particular.
Mostly it makes me think – how cool would it be to live in an underwater house with a tarp like that to make it seem like there’s nothing there?
Hah. Sharks and Jets.
So they have the nukes… where they gonna take them?
The Bahamas, of course.
“Yeah, so, I, uhh… gotta go. I uhh… business. You might not hear from me for two to three decades.”
Oh, that DB5…
I love rear projection. I really do.
He’s about to give him some Lippe.
Okay, Lippe’s coming up on him in a Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner, which we later see Brosnan driving around Cuba in Die Another Day. It’s no match for the Aston Martin, and we see Bond flip open the armrest to get his goodies ready.
But that won’t be at all necessary, because someone’s coming up on a BSA Lightning equipped with missiles. This is the same type of bike used for a stunt in the famous Bullitt chase sequence, but this one has an aerodynamic fairing on it, which I like.
I like when people die before we have to talk about them.
Well thank you, mysterious stranger.
Well, damn. It’s Agent DD. Fiona Volpe’s her real name. Let’s talk about her.
Largo doesn’t know that Fiona and me do it in my van every Sunday.
Fiona Volpe is the first true female secondary villain, since she never goes good like Pussy Galore does. I like her a lot. She starts off as Derval’s mistress to get access to him and learn more about him so they can “duplicate” him. She kills Lippe here for failing to kill Bond, but — Bond’s right there and you have missiles that his car can’t block. Kill him and shoot Lippe while he’s celebrating.
But anyway, we catch up with her later when she picks up Bond hitchhiking and drives really fast. Then there’s some fun at a local festival and bar that we’ll talk about later. All in all, a good villain. Bond knows she’s evil and still sleeps with her, cause why not? He’s got a nice little burn for her, too.
Time to show off my skills to Moneypenny.
Damn it, Moneypenny. This is the only thrill I get in this office.
Nope. They’re not in M’s office today. They’re in the conference room.
I want my conference rooms to look like that.
A nice visual similarity to earlier.
“Well – now that we’re all here…”
They got a tape from Blofeld, saying he has the atomic bombs. He says that if they accept the ransom, to have Big Ben strike seven times at six o’clock (which is an awesome signal). They say they’re gonna pay it unless they can get the bombs.
“Motherfucker, please. This is my job. I’ll get those motherfuckers and have time to fuck some bitches.”
The sets are a big part of what separates these early films from the later ones.
Oh shit, an SAT.
“Code name… Thunderball.”
Da na NA NA na na!
Where the fuck did they get that screenshot, a Beach Party movie?
M goes off on all the important shit, but Bond…
Who is that?
Bond’s been assigned to Canada. He wants to be transferred to the Bahamas.
“Is there any other reason besides your enthusiasm for water sports?”
Bond says he saw Derval dead.
“I see… and who’s this?”
“And where is she now?”
“Do you think she’s worth going after?”
Reaction shots are the key to comedy.
I love this scene. Bond’s like, “I don’t want to fucking go to Canada. I want to go where it’s warm to fuck this chick.” And M knows. He knows what Bond wants. And because this Canadian Air Force guy is there, M makes it professional, like, “Well, you seem to have evidence… no, no, no, you may have seen him alive, but if Bond saw him dead, that’s good enough for me. All right, you can go.” It’s so great.
The whole thing is implicit about what just happened.
One of the great Connery/Lee moments.
That’s the best she can get.
This is a great moment. Moneypenny’s like, “You can’t fool me, motherfucker. I know what you want. You can fool the old man, but not me.” And M comes in and is like, “Bitch, I know what he’s doing. And don’t call me ‘the old man.’”
“I think I had a hat when I came in.”
(Note: This is actually the last time we see Bond wearing a hat like that.)
“James – how else will you recognize her?”
“Couldn’t miss. She has two moles on the left thigh.”
There’s a reason he’s the best Bond.
This is up there with From Russia With Love, where M tells him to leave the picture of Tanya, so he signs it for Moneypenny to be like, “Here’s the chick I’ll be banging instead of you.” Also, the teasing about her never having been to Istanbul. “Where the moonlight on the Bosphorus is irresistible.” Only classic Connery would reference a Victor Hugo poem cheek to cheek with Moneypenny.
Great underwater shots in this movie.
Damn, girl, I like yo wiggle.
She likes turtles.
So does he.
It’s like The French Connection, but underwater.
It’s also funny that he’s stalking her in the ocean. He used to do that to some other chick, but now he can’t come within two nautical miles of her.
“Oh no, I’m stuck! How ever can I get out, when I’m such a helpless woman?”
“Here, let me get that for you. I’ve gotten into and out of tighter places than this before.”
“You’re all set. Now, let’s go back up to the surface and I’ll loosen up that doody hole.”
Do you pose like that often?
And that’s Domino. Our Bond girl. Bond’s been “admiring her form.”
She says she comes here every day. He asks, “What else do you do, and where?”
“I was right… couldn’t miss.”
“I’m not with you.”
“You soon will be.”
She will be his. Oh yes. She will be his.
He lays it on so thick here. It’s just understood that he’s going to have her, and he’s even telling her so. The fun is now just watching how he goes about it.
But in the meantime, he’s got another bitch with him.
Bond always has another pair of tits. (Subtitle for this article.)
“Please – I can fuck better than her.” (And right there – he’s got her. The greatest trick the lecher’s ever pulled was convincing a bitch he didn’t need her.)
Look at that stance – you know she’s one of those girls who will just fuck him any time, no strings attached. She knows what the deal is.
She’s gov’ment property.
(Mike Note: That had a “forty acres and a mule” vibe to it.)
Surprisingly, Bond’s boat won’t start.
Well I guess Domino’s gonna have to give him a ride. (A ride on his DICK.)
Of course the other chick – Paula – won’t be joining them. She’ll be “waiting for the service boat.” (Pretty sure any boat with Bond and a woman on it is a service boat.)
“Who the fuck is this asshole?”
Bond has lunch with Domino. She responds the way a Bond girl should respond. She knows he wants to fuck her, but instead of saying, “I’m not going to fuck you,” she says, “I know you want to fuck me,” which really leaves it to her to decide when she wants to fuck him.
She also says that Largo (well, not specifically, but we get the idea) is her guardian and that he has Vargas watch her.
She goes to meet Largo, and he asks her to have dinner with him. She says no.
“My dear, uncooperative Domino.”
“How do you know that? How do you know my friends call me Domino?”
“It’s on the bracelet on your ankle.”
“What sharp little eyes you’ve got.”
“Wait til you get to my teeth.”
So much wordplay! This is Bond!
The man just attracts pussy.
Time to hit the casino.
See how not Las Vegas this place is? I think you’d get kicked out of this place for wearing a cowboy hat.
(Mike Note: No you most certainly would not. A Texas oil baron comes walking into that casino, everyone immediately takes him for a sucker. They’d welcome cowboy hats in a place like this.)
And look who’s there.
And look who’ll be joining him.
Damn, girl, with those fine ass titties.
Bond wins. He says he saw a “SPECTRE” at Largo’s shoulder; “The spectre of defeat.” See what he did there?
I love his arrogance. “You’re evil, I’m here to stop you and you can’t do shit about it.” (It’s basically the same type of attitude we wouldn’t see again until, “The name’s Bond, but you’ll find the reservation under Beech.”
And now it’s “your SPECTRE against mine.”
Bond wins. Bond always wins.
“You seem to be unbeatable, Mr. Bond.”
“Well, you know, I’m just fucking great.”
Then Domino says she thought Largo was gonna buy her a drink. He wants to win his money. So Bond takes his winnings and goes to buy Domino a drink. So he gets the money and the pussy.
(And he didn’t even need to get the power in between.)
Dinner time with the titties.
Domino is Largo’s mistress.
She’s fine as hell.
Obligatory Bond close up.
This Bond dances.
“A Bahama Affair”?
Domino says she can never meet men like her brother. Bond says, “So what, you only get with men like Largo and myself?” And she’s like, “You’re not like Largo.” “How can you tell?”
“The way you hold me.”
Oh, she really want the dick.
Largo shows up and Domino has to leave. Bond basically asks, “So can we fuck later?”
Largo invites him to lunch. (This is my favorite part of these movies.)
Back at his hotel…
They all want the dick.
Bond goes to the room next door to his. Why? Because it’s Paula’s room. But Paula’s not there. So he goes to his room, where…
There’s a nice moment here where he listens to the recording and the camera pans along, as a sort of visual recreation of the sound. It’s pretty great.
“Bitch please, I know someone’s in here.”
Who’s at the fucking door?
Bam. He shuts him the fuck up. Ain’t nobody gotta know he’s 007.
The only good henchman is a dead henchman.
It’s Felix Leiter. Why don’t we recognize him? Because it’s the third actor to play Felix in three movies that feature the character.
It’s called ‘tradecraft’ — he blends.
Bond lets the henchman go. “The little fish I throw back.”
Besides – he’s got more important things to do.
The henchman comes back to see Largo. He’s got a car.
A 1964 Triumph Herald. Probably sourced locally, like Bond’s Sunbeam Alpine from Dr. No.
Largo’s got sharks.
He fucked up. He was supposed to dump the body in the mahsh.
What did the towel say to the face?
Let’s talk about Largo now, while we have such a nice shot of him.
Largo is Blofeld’s apparent successor, in charge of SPECTRE’s extortion operations. He’s a pretty ruthless guy, but also a pretty straightforward villain, Bond-wise. He’s got the best of everything — a great evil plot, a hot chick, a sweet villa lair and a secondary lair that’s a bomb ass (get it?) hydrofoil.
The best part about Largo is that he does the socializing with Bond better than just about anyone else. It really builds the story and provides plenty of amusement, since they both know what the deal is.
As Mike mentioned before, he’s actually participating int his endeavor because his ass is on the line here — if he fails, he has to answer to Blofeld, and that doesn’t usually go well. I see motivation, cunning, ruthlessness, and even a bit of humor in this guy. Like him a lot.
I can’t believe they actually threw a stuntman onto a shark like that.
Nice fade to red.
Bond then takes Felix to meet Paula and Pinder. Pinder’s another contact. (Don’t worry, he’s completely irrelevant outside of the fact that he’s black. And we like black people in these movies.)
They go to his hideout, which – I love all of these sets. Also, you know who’s here?
Q’s got some things.
A Geiger counter.
And an underwater camera. Q wants him to treat it with care.
“Everything you give me—“
“Is treated with equal contempt, I know.”
And a flare.
And a breathing device.
And a homing device pill.
“What do I do with it?”
“Well obviously you swallow it.”
I love the way he says, “Now?”
I fucking love rear projection.
I only really just now noticed that hat. Connery wears stuff so inconspicuously. You notice everything that Moore has on instantly, and that’s not always a good thing.
(Mike Note: I think that’s either because you’re looking for shit to call Moore out on, or because we just sort of ignore Connery’s head area since we know it’s gonna be covered with something that’s not naturally there anyway. Though I’ll admit, Moore does have his share of ridiculous costumes. But I only really only can remember one that I actively caught — which was the gondola hat in Moonraker. Otherwise, I don’t actively notice that Bond is wearing a hat unless it’s in Moneypenny’s office.)
So Blofeld tells them where to put the money. He wants it in diamonds. Whatever. We only care about the set.
Well now I know where they made his costume from Zardoz.
I love how they show him with as much hair as they can.
Bond checks Largo’s yacht for the nukes. But wait –
Underwater fight scene!
Bond then ditches his gear to make like he died and gets out of there. Meanwhile, on land…
Bond gets a lift.
She works for SPECTRE. And has a nice car.
Two movies in a row for the Mustang! How about that. They showcase it pretty nicely, getting the dashboard, the exterior, some of the rest of the interior. Nice engine sounds, too.
She flies through the backwoods with Bond in the car, apparently trying to scare him.
He’s more likely to be thinking, “I wonder if I’ll just have to kill her, or if I’ll get to fuck her too.”
Tell me, Mike, what are your feelings on rear projection?
“Some men don’t like to be driven.”
“No, some men just don’t like to be taken for a ride.”
How many scenes in this movie end with wordplay? Feels like more than half. And that’s awesome.
Bond then goes looking for the plane.
It doesn’t amount to much, though they do figure out the plane couldn’t have gotten very far in the amount of time between when it took off and went missing.
But who cares, gorgeous shots.
Bond surveys Largo’s place.
We saw the Lincoln Continental Executive Limousine before, this is the normal model. Everyone loves this car, and it’s been in absolutely everything. The only car that’s been in Animal House AND a presidential assassination.
(Mike Note: Please have them put that exact line on a brochure.)
“That gun, it looks more fitting for a woman.”
“Do you know much about guns, Mr. Bond?”
“No. I know a little about women.”
So many of these excellent lines in this movie!
There’s Vargas and Janni. Vargas is the one that looks like John Lithgow with AIDS.
Vargas doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, and he doesn’t fuck women. Let’s talk about this boring fuck now.
I think you just did.
But, uh…oh, right. He does serve to make Largo more interesting during this scene, as he teases Vargas about being a little wussy boy. I like that.
(Mike Note: But seriously… John Lithgow with AIDS.)
“Seems terribly difficult.”
“No it isn’t, is it?”
One of the most iconic Connery moments ever. He’s showing off. I’m a boss, you a bitch.
I like how three minutes ago she said she should go change, as if what she were wearing was too revealing, and then she changes into that.
Fiona, meet Paula. Paula – well, you’re pretty much dead anyway, so who cares?
“Make sure you keep that bitch quiet.” This woman is all business. I like it.
Meanwhile, at the Bahaman Mardi Gras…
Mostly Bond finds out Paula’s gone. But who cares when we can look at Domino?
So Bond goes to sneak around at Largo’s place.
Have a nice trip.
See you next fall.
Paula’s taken her cyanide capsule.
Bond threw his away years ago.
(Mike Note: This is years ago. He might have thrown it away after he saw her.)
This is actually one of the smarter things we see Bond do for awhile. He’s surrounded by henchman, so he shoots in both directions before getting the hell out of the way, so Largo’s henchman can shoot at each other in the dark. Largo sees through the trick and yells at them, which is why he’s the boss.
(Mike Note: I’d just like to point out how much I love how they shot that moment, with Bond shooting the guy in the background, then turning and shooting the guy behind the camera, with the camera changing focus as he turns around. That’s great directing, right there.)
HENCHMAN OUT OF NOWHERE!
Largo’s got him now.
Bond just fucking shanks the henchman.
Way to make sure they all came out before you went.
Nah, he wasn’t behind glass there at all.
Smart shark they had there.
Back to the hotel.
Time for another round of Assassination Attempt or Sex.
Bathroom – that can only mean one thing.
“Aren’t you in the wrong room, Mr. Bond?”
“Not from where I’m standing.”
“Since you’re here, do you mind giving me something to put on?”
Serious contender for top ten funniest moments in the franchise.
Well obviously the answer is sex.
“Do you like bad things, Mr. Bond, James Bond?” (Note: He doesn’t say it in this movie, she does. Presumably he said it when he was inside her.)
Oh, she’s one of those.
“You made a shocking mess out of my hair, you sadistic brute.” Amazing how one line of dialogue conjures up more vivid images of a sex scene than an actual sex scene can do. (And yet filmmakers never learn.)
As he zips her up, I have to ask – doesn’t she look like Deborah Kerr?
I can see it. Quo Vadis.
Where the fuck did he pull that out of?
I’d be more interested to know how he got it INTO wherever he pulled it out of.
(Mike Note: My curiosity is simpler. I just want to know if it tickled on the way out.)
Oh, but damn, they’re there.
Ah, assassination attempt and sex. (Technically it’s a kidnapping, but what the fuck do you think will be at the end of it? S’mores?)
Goddamn she looks good.
He tells her he fucked her “for king and country.” “You don’t think it gave me any pleasure, do you?” (This is the equivalent of Leslie Nielson’s “By the way… I faked every orgasm.”)
I love the second glance to double check if it did give him any pleasure.
Oh, I like her. She’s like, “I forgot. You got the magic dick. Everyone who fucks you immediately does what you want. But not me.”
She may not do what he wants, but you can still see how much it stings. He’s like, “You think you’re special? I don’t even remember your name. You’re just Ho #5385. Yeah, I count.”
It’s gonna be a shame when she’s dead.
But as they take him, some drunks accost the car.
Bond kicks the liquor and –
I’m a ghost ghost ghost ghost ghost ghost.
Bond also gets shot in the leg during this. Which is surprising. How many times is he actually shot during the franchise? (Or even legitimately hurt. Knocked out is one thing, but how often is something broken, or does he have to be in a sling. Actually physically incapacitated longer than from a hotel to a villain’s lair or something.)
And he escapes on a float.
But… they found him.
But it’s cool, cause he gets away again.
And goes there.
He can’t escape them, man.
This can only end well.
I love the stare. It’s like when “Prince” dunked that basket.
“Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.”
Seriously, look at these sets.
Well, might as well check the reefs again. Movie’s almost over.
Oh look, we found it.
“Shoot one of those sharks, it’ll keep the others occupied.”
Wait, Felix is just gonna shoot a Puerto Rican?
(Mike Note: No. Because that would be okay.)
Well that seems wholly unnecessary.
OH. Well, that’s good. No Puerto Ricans killed so far. Knock on [Natalie] Wood.
(Mike Note: He probably could, while he’s down there.)
Time to check out the plane.
Bond finds the dead Angelo and takes Derval’s dog tag from him. That gives him an idea.
Gratuitous underwater sex scene.
I thought this was a fantastic moment. You don’t see sex, just a crazy bubble explosion. Cause we all know what a crazy bubble explosion signifies.
(Mike Note: A dead Geodude?)
“I hope we didn’t frighten the fish.”
Damn, look at her.
This is a great scene with some lines that get glossed over. Domino’s stepped on something spiny and it’s poisonous. Bond takes her foot and sucks the poison out, which is why she’s making that face. Bond remarks quietly, “It’s the first time I’ve tasted women, they’re rather good.”
Let’s talk about Domino now. I’ve been saving it for this scene.
Domino Derval is the sister of Francois Derval, and the “mistress” of the villain Emilio Largo. She’s a good girl who isn’t mixed up in Largo’s business, and she loves her brother. She’s pretty naive, but comes around pretty fast when it’s time to help Bond. She also has a rare honor as a Bond girl, which we’ll see later.
Oh, and Bond tells her Largo killed her brother.
Oh, the single tear. The testament to great acting everywhere.
And Vargas is there.
Why the fuck is he wearing sunglasses?
She agrees to help him and he tells her to bring the Geiger counter on board so she’ll know when the bombs are put onto the boat.
Gratuitous shot of tits.
“Vargas is behind you.” I love how cool she is about it.
“I think he got the point.”
“I’m really gonna miss ya, baby.”
“Oh, and by the way,” she says, at the end of the scene, “I have a really important plot point that I’ve not told you about before this.”
So Bond goes over to Plot Point.
Seems kind of important.
Bond sneaks over there as Largo and his men prepare to move the bombs.
And it becomes night, because it just had to. Bond knocks out a henchman and takes his shit.
(P.S. What do you think happened to the henchman Bond knocked out? Do you think he wakes up and just goes home, or does he try to catch up with the others? Does he reevaluate his life choices? Or does he catch on as a henchman in another evil plot?)
Bond gets right on the ship with Largo.
And follows them to where the bombs are.
“Wait, he’s not one of us!”
And it’s on.
But by the time Bond kills the henchman, the bombs are gone.
Oh yeah, her. And, those.
Oh no. It’s them.
(Mike Note: That’s not even a 10% reference. I’m pretty sure only the two of us know that one.)
That Geiger counter sounds like the opening drums on “Hot for Teacher.”
“Bitch, what’chu doin?”
“Bitch, I know you can’t tell time.”
Goddamn look at her.
I think he’s about to rape her.
Oh, he totally did. And now he’s gonna torture her with a cigarette and ice, because either he’s fucking MacGyver or because he thinks those things will cause serious heat and cold to the point where she’ll give up information.
What the fuck does he think they were doing?
So Bond’s just hanging out in a cave, with… you know… his feelings.
When Felix comes to the rescue.
Always loved this shot. The Caribbean is so clear that you can have a huge, wide shot from hundreds of feet up in the air and still see exactly what’s going on. Awesome.
And here comes the cavalry.
♫ “We’re gonna hand them a surprise tonight.” ♫
You know, this isn’t very different from Moonraker, is it?
Yeah, Moonraker ripped it off and put it in space. The only difference is, it’s almost plausible that the US military could have a bunch of guys trained for underwater battle ready to go. I don’t really buy the Moonraker marines.
(Mike Note: What, you mean three rockets’ worth of astronauts can’t get up into space within thirty minutes? Come on. That’s the Omaha Quadrant. They were waiting to take that sector.)
There are so many great shots of people getting shot in the fucking chest with spear guns.
And there’s Bond. Of course he shows up late. He’s gotta make an entrance.
What the fuck is that yellow shit?
This is so great, this fight. They’re just fucking brawling underwater. It’s actually kind of like an underwater Revolutionary War battle. Think of the final battle of The Patriot and watch this scene. It’s incredible how much stuff matches up.
“I got you now, Bond.”
Oh, now surely they have him.
Bam. Look at that trap.
I really wonder what underwater grenades do to a person.
He got the point too.
“Hey, what’s going on, guys?”
Oh jam, is that a Krabby? I forgot my Pokédex in Q’s lab.
(Mike Note: Might be a Kingler. Watch out for Hyper Beam.)
Well that’ll break up a fight right quick.
You motherfuckers really hate sharks, don’t you?
And there goes Largo and his men.
And there’s Bond, not far behind.
What did I say about The Patriot?
America’s got the bombs (well, one of them, anyway), and Bond’s going after Largo.
And so is the Navy.
Man, you just left those guys out to dry.
Yes, fire at the Navy. That’ll end well.
This is what I was saying with Diamonds are Forever. Your boss just left you to die. What’s with the loyalty?
Some random dude then frees Domino and her tits.
As Bond climbs aboard the ship.
Nice move, Trinity.
(P.S. What the fuck is up with the crew and those dumb ass Disco Volante shirts? When did they give out a memo that required all of the crew to wear the official boat t-shirts?)
So there’s a final showdown with Largo, while the ship careens out of control (it’s actually really obvious that they sped up the footage. It’s kind of weak, especially compared to that awesome underwater fight earlier. Plus they edited it horribly).
HOW ARE THERE SO MANY REEFS GETTING IN THE WAY?
Anyway, let’s just get to the good part.
“Just let me get… one last look… it’s times like this I wish I had two eyes.” (Dies.)
Bond girls don’t usually get the last kill. She’s got the revenge thing going for her brother, so that’s cool.
Time to dive off.
And that’s the end of Largo.
The editor might not have been too good, but the DP certainly was top notch. Great camera placement.
Oh, how great is that? Nice way to not end on a raft again.
What’s weird about this one is that there are no last lines. There’s the line where they jump of the boat where the dude that saved Domino is like, “I can’t swim,” and Bond says, “Well, it’s never too late to learn,” and the only other line after that is sort of a line – Bond says, “Up,” as he hoists Domino into the raft, but it’s kind of garbled and could be a grunt. There’s really no final line in the film. It’s odd.
Final Thoughts on Thunderball:
After thinking about it, I’m really torn between this and the one that’s coming up next. It’s super classic, not too gadget heavy, and there’s not a bad character in the bunch. I don’t like the jetpack, but this movie has an opening scene that doesn’t really even go with the rest of the film. Like, you could pretty much leave it out and the film wouldn’t be all that different. The health spa is good, but I’d like a little more Europe before we jet off to the Bahamas for the rest of the film. This is the fourth Bond movie, and the second that takes place primarily in the Caribbean. That was an Ian Fleming thing, but still.
I love how many awesome lines are in this movie. The one liners, the puns, everything. It’s fantastic. I feel like this is one of the best in that department.
And let’s don’t forget — Sir Tom Jones.
My Final Thoughts:
This one was really a tough call over the film that was #8 on my list. I eventually chose this as #9 after a lengthy debate with myself because — the film that’s #8, to me, only has some weak elements to it. This one — there’s the jet pack, there’s that anticlimactic climax, which isn’t particularly thrilling at all, and there are some parts of this that just aren’t that interesting to me, like Bond sneaking into Largo’s place. But on the other hand, this film has some brilliant moments. I love the underwater stuff, and especially that underwater battle. I love Domino, and I love Fiona, and I like Bond’s interplay with both of them. I like the scenes at the health spa. It’s just — and I’ll explain this better when I get to #8, but the difference is that #8 doesn’t have those parts where I go, “That’s really just not as interesting.” That film’s strength is its climax. This one has very high highs, but some disappointing lows. (Lows being relative to the highs, not like — franchise lows.)
I’ll be able to explain it better when I get to #8. But — I love this film, and I love a lot about it (obviously, it’s in the top ten). I just — I don’t know if I can put it any higher than this, since, of all the films in the top ten, this is really the one with the most major sequences that don’t work for me. And I love all the underwater stuff. Absolutely love it. So it was hard for me to make that choice, but — it had to be done.
- – – – -
Official Bond Number: #4
Release Date: December 29, 1965
Run Time: 130 minutes
Budget: $9 million
Box Office: $63.6 million domestically, $141.2 million worldwide
Title Song: ”Thunderball,” by Tom Jones
Music By: John Barry
Based On: ”Push,” by Sapphire
Director: Terence Young
Writer: Richard Maibaum & John Hopkins
First Lines: ”The coffin – it has your initials: J.B.” “At the moment, rather him than me.”
Last Lines: ”Up.”
- – – – -
- – – – -
- Emilio Largo
- Domino Derval
- None, really. Unless you want to include Blofeld.
Secondary Bond Girl:
Bond Villain Chick:
- Fiona Volpe
- Count Lippe
- Felix Leiter
Other Important Characters:
- Patricia Fearing
- – – – -
- – – – -
- Ford Mustang Convertible (Fiona Volpe)
- Ford Fairlane Skyliner (Volpe)
- Ford Thunderbird (Largo)
- Ford Consul (Leiter)
- Lincon Continental
- Bentley Mark II Continental
- – – – -
- The jet pack
- The DB5 has water jets
- The homing pill Bond has
- Bond’s air supply tube
- Bond’s scuba jetpack thing with spear guns on the back
- Geiger counter watch and camera
- Casette recorder hidden in book
- Blofeld has the electric chairs that kill people.
- The Skyhook
- – – – -
- The film won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
- This film was the cause of probably the most legal disputes the franchise itself has ever had. After the novel of “Thunderball” was published, Kevin McClory and Jack Wittingham sued Fleming, saying he based it on a screenplay the three had written, trying to turn Bond into a movie. McClory ended up winning certain screen rights to the novel’s story, plot and characters. Saltzman and Broccoli were worried that McClory would create a rival film, so they agreed to give him a producer’s credit on the film. Though, in the 70s, McClory decided to go ahead with a movie about the things he owned the rights to anyway (which I’m pretty sure include SPECTRE, the octopus logo, the character of Blofeld, and other things of that nature, not to mention the basic premise of “Thunderball”), which would lead to the film Never Say Never Again, which is the big monkey wrench when people talk about the franchise. Since no one really considers the 1966 Casino Royale to be even close to this franchise. It’s a spoof, and that’s it. But Never Say Never Again features Connery and is basically the plot of Thunderball again. It’s like that Marisa Tomei monologue at the end of My Cousin Vinny about the Buick Skylark and the Pontiac Tempest — same height, weight, width, wheel base, and wheel track. So when people do trivia and shit about the franchise, they specify if it’s “official” Eon films or just Bond altogether. I, myself, don’t even bother with Never Say Never Again and don’t consider it part of the Bond canon. It’s like considering A Goofy Movie to be a Disney movie. Technically, it is, but if it’s not part of the official 52 (since technically it’ll be 52 as of tomorrow), it doesn’t count. So anyway — lots of legal trouble with this one.
- Maurice Binder, having not done the titles for From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, came back to do the titles for this film, and would stay as the franchise’s title designer all the way until Licence to Kill.
- Bond doesn’t drink a martini in this film, but does drink Dom Perignon. It’s usually one or the other, if not both.
- Here’s a great one — when recording the song, Tom Jones asked the write of the song what “he strikes like thunderball” meant. The guy didn’t know either.
- Title translations: (Norway) Operation Thundersky, (Germany & Finland) Fireball, (Netherlands) Calm Down, Mr. Bond, (Sweden) The Thunderball, (Portugal) Atomic Ball, (Denmark) Agent 007 Into the Fire, (Israel) The Ball of Thunder, (China) 007 Averts SPECTRE, (Japan) Thunderball Fighting, (Belgium & France) Operation Thunder, (Italy, Japan, Spain & Poland) Operation Thunderball.
- I found this, which backs up my note up there — a stuntman was actually paid a $450 bonus to jump into Largo’s shark pool. So that motherfucker actually does land on a shark. That’s fucked up.
- This is the first Bond film where Bond doesn’t smoke.
- Apparently this film feature’s Connery’s favorite performance as Bond.
- The chick who played Paula was also one of the gypsies in From Russia with Love.
- This is the only Bond film where we see all the other double-o agents.
- Apparently when they tried to make this film in the 50s, they wanted Burl Ives to play Largo. (YES! That would have been awesome!)
- Johnny Cash actually submitted a title song. It’s pretty good. It’s no Tom Jones, but it’s not a bad song. It’s great as a thing to have, like, “Oh hey, wanna hear Johnny Cash do a song for Thunderball?” And everyone can enjoy it as a little oddity.
- The title song was originally going to be “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” sung by Dionne Warwick. They changed it to the Tom Jones “Thunderball” at the last minute, because they were worried about having a title song that didn’t include the title of the movie. (Which — when would be the first time that happened? Octopussy. And technically On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Though the instrumental does have that title. So not really. It’s Octopussy, then Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.) Shirley Bassey recorded a version — which I’m pretty sure I have.
- This is the first film where Sean Connery actually performs the gun barrel sequence. (It’s not him for the first three films. Bet you probably didn’t know that.)
- This was the first film in the franchise where a henchman was killed by being thrown in a shark pool.