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Out of the 20 official entries of the James Bond series (to date)
"Thunderball" is often mentioned as 'the underwater one' and for a very
good reason. It had big shoes to fill since the previous year's
"Goldfinger" became a box-office phenomenon across the world. Although
Thunderball was even more successful, there are debates on weather or
not it was a better film. In this fan's opinion, it was.
Picking up after the most unusual pre-titles scene featuring MI6 secret agent James Bond meeting his match with a man in drag and escaping in a jet-pack, "Thunderball" features the most generic (and parodied) Bond plot: The international terrorist organization SPECTRE, led by a mysterious unseen cat stroking leader, hijacks two nuclear bombs for a huge extortion plan. James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Nassau where Domino Derval (Claudine Auger), the sister of the pilot who appears to be responsible for the theft, resides with her wealthy and older husband Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). Bond eventually finds out Largo himself is the eye patch wearing SPECTRE #2 and he is in charge of the nuclear warheads. Will he survive Largo's squad, including lethal assassin Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), and a tank of sharks?
"Thunderball" is directed by Terence Young picking up after Guy Hamilton from the previous film. Young, who directed the first two films of the series, is certainly one of the most important filmmakers of the Bond saga. In the hands of some hack, "Thunderball" could have easily been an overlong boring disastrous attempt, but Young fills the screen with the same thrilling charm and glamour that made the first two Bonds so unique. The most cinematic of all Fleming novels, the movie is quite faithful to its source material while adding some welcomed changes (the character of Fiona Volpe for example) an therefore making it a more entertaining movie-going experience.
The action is mostly underwater and that is what usually divides fans of the series since some find them sleep-inducing. The special effects crew was awarded with a Best Special Effects Oscar in 1966 and for a very good reason. The film's extensive use of underwater photography was quite breath-taking for it's time. And the visual effects themselves are quite impressive, especially the explosion featured in the climax which shattered many windows in Nassau. Thunderball is based mostly on thrills than stunts, which is something recent Bond films should start to concentrate on. It is all well orchestrated to one of John Berry's most memorable contributions to the Bond saga. The '007 theme' is used at its best during the action sequences, especially during the climatic fight at Largo's yacht. The theme song, sung by Tom Jones, is one of the most memorable tunes of the series, although I prefer the original unused song "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang".
Two usual standards of the series, villains and girls, are both filled quite successfully. Adolfo Celi is one of the most parodied villains (eye patch anyone?) but his portrayal of #2 is incredibly fun to watch. He is indeed a one-dimensional character, but a very memorable one. Claudine Auger is one stunning-looking woman and her acting skills are above average for the time. She is one of the most likable Bond girls around and her lack of clothing makes her quite heir apparent to Dr. No's Honey Rider in terms of sexiness. But Luciana Paluzzi steals the show with Fiona Volpe. She is the first Bond girl to stand up to the agent's charms (Pussy eventually gave up) and the psychotic look of rage in her eyes responding to Bond's macho insult is particularly memorable: 'But of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, the one where he has to make love to a woman, and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, and turns to the side of right and virtue... (she steps on Bond's foot)... but not this one!' Volpe stands second only to Xenia Onatopp among the sexy girl villains.
This is the last time we see Connery at his best portraying 007 before he was eventually bored with the in later entries, particularly in "Diamonds are Forever". He indeed shows why he is considered by most fans to be the best among the Bonds. He has amazing screen presence and a suave charm of a sophisticated playboy that just makes every guy want to be him and every girl want to be with him.
One of my personal favourites and certainly on my top five, "Thunderball" is one of the most well rounded Bond adventures to date. Exotic locations, beautiful women, battle sequences, gadgets, suspense, terrific music, and a memorable villain add up to the best of the "popcorn" Bond movies. Terrific entertainment!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A NATO Vulcan Bomber carrying two atomic bombs had crashed in the
To make a serious situation even more critical, SPECTRE then
informed the British government that it had hijacked the plane's cargo
Unless a ransom of £100 million was paid in seven days, a major city in
England or the US would be destroyed
M16 called in all its top agents, but only one had a lead: James Bond With four days to go, 007 flew to the Bahamas, where a femme fatale, a beautiful avenger, and a big game predator fish collector, a tough Italian mafia type posing as a millionaire adventurer in Nassau, called Emilio Largo awaited him Largo (Adolpho Celi) is actually the ruthless one-eyed SPECTRE No. 2, who can easily turn from charmer to killer when SPECTRE business is at stake
Fiona Volpe's introduction while wearing a sheer negligée in Derbal's (Paul Stassino) bedroom was definitely an early highlight of "Thunderball." Luciana Paluzzi is a very sexy ruthless villain Definitely one of the better female characters in the series
Bond appears to be a bit cavalier at timesspending far too much time bedding one conquest after anotherwhen duty calls, he responds quickly and decisively After three films, the 007 character has been established Now, it's time for Bond to have a little funas shown in the scene where he consumes Conch Chowder, Beluga Caviar and Dom Perignon '55 (he once scorned), or the scene in the French château where he kills SPECTRE's agent and takes time to throw flowers on the body or the scene in Shrublands where he discovers the body of a NATO aerial observer and steals a bit of fruit as he leaves Touches like these set "Thunderball" apart from other Bond movies
With ingenious gadgets provided by Q, wonderful underwater sequences, great special visual effects (rewarded with an Oscar), nice music score, and exotic scenery, the film remains as a lavish tropical paradise where sandy beaches, coral reefs and bikinis prevailed... The viewer suddenly gets a tremendous sense of the tropics, of carefree vacations, cool tropical drinks, and moonlights romance
This is one of the TOP Bond movies of all time.
Sean Connery is at his peak of fame as 007 and his character of Bond works in an excellent way. His portrait of the suave sophisticated super spy is tough, ironical, glamorous and a bit cynical; physically he's in great shape. This is the definitive image of Bond -which entered the movie history.
"Thunderball" is the fourth 007 movie. Many things have changed since the small budgeted "Dr.No". Here we a have a larger than life adventure, full of gadgets and jokes.
When SPECTRE steals some nuclear weapons Bond has to investigate everywhere -also under the sea- to avoid World War 3. He does it, as usual, facing a spiteful villain -Adolfo Celi- and a femme fatale -Luciana Paluzzi-. The prize for his effort is Domino -Claudine Auger-.
The film is still exciting... 40 years after its release we always wonder how underwater scenes are so accurate. The film is a mix of revolutionary technology, British humor, sex and gorgeous women. In 1965 it was unbelievable to see such films. "Thunderball" in the Sixties was like "Matrix" in 2000, maybe with a stronger impact than the latter on audiences, popular culture and fashion.
"Thunderball" marks the peak of Bondmania in the Sixties and the beginning of the gadget era for 007 -although for someone the decline of the serious James Bond begins here...
After the legendary success of Goldfinger , expectations were
understandably astronomical for the next Bond installment, with 007
producers determined to consistently push the envelope, delivering a
"bigger and better Bond" than ever before. Unfortunately, this
determination proved to be both the strength and weakness of
Thunderball, the resulting sequel. On the whole, the film is by no
means a failure, but the producers' determination to cash in on
elements which made Goldfinger such a success led to overkill excesses
which sink Thunderball's overall quality.
The plot is even more outlandish than Goldfinger's radiation of the fort Knox gold reserve, pushing the threat to a more global context with the destruction of major world cities by atomic weapons. As well as being a particularly poignant plot device at the time, in the midst of the Cold War, the gist of Thunderball may seem quite familiar to those who frequent more modern political action thrillers, such as The Sum of All Fears. Despite the larger than life premise, Thunderball remains far more grounded in reality than several later Bond exploits (including You Only Live Twice and Moonraker) which tended to drift into being overly silly and ludicrous. Thunderball still takes itself relatively seriously, with several surprisingly dark moments, which help counterbalance the slightly comical yet still thrilling sight of of seeing Connery in a jet pack, and dramatically aid the overall quality of the film.
However, Thunderball's significantly larger budget is mostly misused through underwater photography sequences, which, although interesting to look at (and were likely moreso back in the 1960s, where such a sight was very seldom visible to the public eye) for the most part fail to further the plot in any way, and drag on excruciatingly long. However, the film does boast some strong cinematography (and some stunning locations), the action sequences (including a tense chase sequence through a Mardi Gras parade) are solid, and an unreasonably catchy Tom Jones title track surprisingly helps not hinders the film.
Unfortunately, for however many of the film's previous strengths, the film descends into utter chaos during the film's final quarter with a painfully repetitive and indecipherable underwater battle (it is increasingly difficult to tell which underwater army is which, who is winning, or why it should even retain our interest) a boat chase flaunting special effects which have dated decidedly unfavourably, and laughably inexplicable character motivations seemingly thrown in to finally tie up the increasingly unravelling mess. It is a disappointment indeed to see what started out with such promise sink into such a banal conclusion.
The character of Bond himself is surprisingly reduced to far less screen time than is usual for a 007 film, which is unfortunate, as Connery gives arguably one of his strongest performances as Bond, oozing self assurance and panache, yet an unprecedented darkness amidst the one liners ("I think he got the point" being the most classic). This time around Bond not only gets hurt, but is not afraid to hurt, unflinchingly bestowing surprisingly vicious physical punishment against his adversaries
The supporting cast proves to be a very hit and miss affair. While former model Claudine Augere certainly looks the part of a sixties Bond girl, but unfortunately for the most part retains the static lack of emoting also associated with them. Adolfo Celi's eye-patched frown makes a visually iconic Bond villain, and is suitably menacing, but as the film progresses, he loses his threat element more and more, eventually degrading to a flimsy carbon copy of an adversary by the final act. Luciana Paluzzi steals the show from all but Connery, making one of the most chilling Bond femme fatale figures in the franchise. Paluzzi, despite the potential to coast by on her sensual looks, refuses to play the part on autopilot, and exudes laudable charisma and threat throughout. The unfortunately named Rik Van Nutter makes the most generic and forgettable CIA agent Felix Leiter of the Bond series, but Bernard Lee and Desmond Llewelyn are on top form as the ever endearing M and Q.
As overlong and let down by some unfortunate overuse of budget and dated special effects as the film may be, Thunderball is nonetheless a noteworthy and suitably engaging early Bond effort. Connery himself, in one of his most charismatic renditions of the role is enough to merit watching, and the film for the most part runs along at a brisk enough pace to retain audience interest. While the film is less likely to enthrall those who are not already Bond purists, fans of the character or series should easily be able to extract moments of enjoyment from Thunderball.
Thunderball is the fourth entry in the ever ongoing James Bond
franchise and in my opinion one of the better installments. This film
features the secret services arch-enemy SPECTRE and I must say that in
this episode of James Bond adventures it works better than in From
Russia with Love. What I liked about this film, was that there were a
lot of good one-liners from Connery, that there weren't too many goofy
stunts / henchmen / gadgets and that the film was able to maintain
exciting throughout. I've read quite a few comments stating that the
underwater scenes dragged on too long, but I must say that I felt even
that bit to be quite entertaining and thrilling. I actually have only
one criticism and that regards the ending. I felt that the whole
out-of-control boat thing was really stupid. I mean I understand that
they tried to make it look spectacular, but in using the same technique
they used to buff up the fistfights, they made it look cheesy and
cheap. Luckily this is just one short moment in the film and the film
is not ruined by something as a dreadful character or a bad actor. All
in all this is one of the better Bond films and well worth watching if
one sets out for 2 hours of pure adventurous entertainment with a
7 out of 10
Out of Connery's Bond movies this one is my personal favorite. It has the best location, the best action, and the best women. Sure it also has lots of flaws, but I still really enjoy this one. SPECTRE has hijacked some nuclear weapons and is threatning to use them if they do not get what they want. So Bond has to find the missles and put a stop to SPECTRE's plans once again. Almost the entire movie takes place on a tropical island, much like Dr. No, but this one has a better plot and a great underwater fight scene at the end that make it a much better film than Dr. No. From beginning to end I find this one of the most enjoyable Bond flicks.
This James Bond film was fantastic. The characters in the film were
really interesting and every single actress/actress plays his/her part
This film involved a lot of scenes involving water, but I'm not complaining, because it was really fascinating to see that instead of the usual dry land scenes. One interesting note was the scene in which Fiona Volpe fires the rocket at the car chasing 007, Bob Simmons the stunt driver was almost killed in the spectacular scene. Simmons also played the man dressed up as a women in the beginning of the film. Sadly Bob Simmons died in 1988.
Rik Van Nutter (yeah, yeah even I laughed when I seen his last name!) played Felix Leiter in a fantastic fashion. He was cool and when a situation arose he was calm about it. Van Nutter who is now 75 years old was not asked to play the part again, for reasons which are unknown but he will always be remembered for being one of the more memorable actors to play Leiter along with Jack Lord (Dr No, 1962) and David Hedison (Live and Let Die, 1973 and Licence To Kill, 1989).
The man they called Ernst Stavro Blofeld oh yes! was played by actor Anthony Dawson who played Professor Dent in Dr No. Although we don't see Dawson's face in the film his voice was dubbed so it could be more frightening and entertaining. Just seeing Dawson sitting in that chair behind the screen with that little white cat (isn't that cat a legend?!) sends the chills down your spine. Anthony Dawson sadly passed away in 1992 from cancer.
Finally the villain who was wonderfully played by Adolfo Celi - Largo was a fascinating character. Even this SPECTRE agent had his love for a particular animal that being Golden Grotto sharks. As suspected Celi had his voice dubbed for the final version of the film. Unfortunately Celi passed away in 1986 from a heart attack.
This film ranks up there with the best along with From Russia with Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964) and if you like James Bond you'll like this! Overall Grade - A*
Over-the-top James Bond movie in which he confronts Spectra and killer
hoodlums around the world . World is threatened with destruction James
Bond (a magnificent , as usual, Sean Connery) then goes to Bahamas and
meets Emilio Largo (Adoldo Celi , as a formidable Bond villain) , a
high-ranking nasty agent and involving a beauty (Claudine Auger) in
order to retrieve atomic missiles that were stolen by Spectre and its
Agent nº 2 . In Bahamas James has an ally character , another agent
named Felix Laiter (Rick Van Nutter) . 007 is being lured into a deadly
trap , and he will need all of his force , intelligence and
cutting-edge technology to triumph over the enemies that seek to
destroy him . Bond is pursued by Largo and his hoodlums .
This solid , slick thriller with magic mix of action-packed , dazzling stunts , gadgetry , self-deprecating humor and romance provided by sexy company as Claudine Auger ; in addition , Luciana Paluzzi as a memorably sexy villainess , after being rejected for the role of Domino . This is a very amusing installment , though when was released suffered from comparison to its two admittedly superior predecessor ¨From Russia with Love¨ and ¨Goldfinger¨ . Fourth entry Sean Connery as James Bond is very fine , he does remarkably well , he has toughness , irony, humor and sympathy, however also has coldness ,cunning , intelligence and roughness . Sean Connery said that this movie was his personal favorite out of the Bond films he did . Here Bond is an efficient , relentless agent trying to chase obstinately the criminals , traveling around the world as always , as this time is mostly set in Islas Bahamas . Bond to achieve his aims , along the way uses violent means , pulling off brutal killings against enemies who wreak all sorts of havoc . As always Bond will use "state of the art" and fantastic gadgets provided by ¨Q¨ interpreted , as usual , by Desmond Llewelyn , he would reprise the role of "Q" in 16 subsequent Bond films . In addition , there appears the usual as Lois Maxwell, ¨MoneyPenny¨ and Bernard Lee as M . Here appears four wonderful women ; Claudine Auger , Molly Peters Luciana Paluzzi and Martine Beswick who formerly played in ¨From Russia with love¨ as a gypsy at a memorable fight . This was the second James Bond movie to provide key elements for the series' success ; it was the first of Maurice Binder's opening titles sequences created in the form that they would become most famous for. It was also the first to have movie posters which had panoramic adventure-scene artwork.
The picture contains Connery's stylish acting , comic-strip adventure , sensational pursuits , spectacular set pieces , great stunts , tongue-in check humor , frantic unstopped action , amazing gimmicks and stimulating images like are the spectacular chases , the overwhelming underwater scenes made by Ricou Browning , and the breathtaking fights . As is like a roller-coaster , as is fast-paced , light, excitement, funny and entertaining ; it's a winner for oo7 fans and non-fans alike . The chase and suspense formula wears strong in this entry . The action-packed includes : impressive chase scenes in his Aston Martin , underwater battles and Bond escape in a rocket-propulsion Jet Pack originally designed and invented for military use , it is also known as the Small Rocket Lift Device . Hoping for an end to the Cold War, producer Kevin McClory didn't want James Bond's main enemy to be Russian, so for the film version his nemesis is the fictitious criminal organization Spectre . Enjoyable title song and stirring musical score fitting to action by John Barry in his classic style , the score allegedly still contains riffs from Monty Norman's work on ¨Doctor No¨. In premiere , ¨Thunderball¨was panned by reviewers , ; however , time has proved it to be one of the more amusing films based on Ian Fleming novels . . It was remade eighteen years later as ¨Never say never again¨ by Irvin Kershner , with Klaus Maria Brandauer (Adolfo Celi role) , Kim Basinger (Claudine character) and Barbara Carrera (Luciana Paluzzi role) .
Riveting and fancy main titles by habitual Maurice Binder , he returned to the series to design the main title sequence for this movie after being absent from the previous two Bond movies ; for the opening main title sequence, title designer Binder filmed swimmers swimming naked in black and white before adding in the color by an optical process afterward. Furthermore , eye-popping and overwhelming production design by Ken Adam . It's brimming with colorful and fascinating cinematography by cameraman Ted Moore . Evocative photography ,much of the film was shot on location, with only a bare minimum of back projection used ; something quite unusual for a film of 1965 . The motion picture was well directed by Terence Young ,author of three best James Bond films : ¨Dr No¨ , ¨From Russia with love¨ and ¨Thunderball¨ and directed to Audrey Hepburn in a good thriller titled ¨Wait until dark¨ and a failed film titled ¨Bloodline¨.
Connery is back, better and more buff than ever, as super agent James
Bond 007, this time seeing him on a mission in the Bahamas to prevent a
nuclear catastrophe from happening. The cinematography is beautiful, as
the Bond Girl Claudine Auger, who looks smoking hot in her bikini.
For the acting, Connery is always there to take the spotlight. He zigs and zags his way around friends and foe in order to succeed. He is still the charming, witty, and deadly secret agent we have come to know him for. The villain is also good here, because not only he has one of the most diabolical plans ever, he also looks diabolical (an eye patch).
The action here is non-stop, especially the underwater scenes. Some call these scenes overlong, thus causing the length of the film to be 2 hours and 10 minutes, quite long, but to me, it's just breathless and pulse-pounding. Also, the beginning of the film will want you begging for more Connery. Most of the action sequences rely on the team's special effects, but it's no problem, since the special effects are damn good for a 1965 movie, even by today's standard. Which is why it deserved to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Crew also reigns here. Producers Brocolli and Saltzman return once again, as well as Terence Young, director of the first two Bond films. This was his final James Bond film before he went on to direct Audrey Hepburn in her Oscar-nominated performance in the 1967 thriller Wait After Dark. It shows that you have a class filmmaker at the helm. John Barry gives us a beautiful and fast-paced score that mounts up the tension every time.
Overall, probably the most entertaining Bond ever.
Thunderball is directed by Terence Young and adapted to screenplay by
Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins from a story by Kevin McClory, Jack
Whittingham and Ian Fleming. It stars Sean Connery, Adolfo Celi,
Claudine Auger, Rick Van Nutter and Martine Beswick. Music is scored by
John Barry and cinematography by Ted Moore.
The fourth outing for James Bond (Connery) sees 007 assigned to the Bahamas to try and thwart SPECTRE's number 2 operative, Emilio Largo (Celi). Largo has hijacked two atomic bombs from NATO and sets about extorting huge ransoms of money. If his terms are not met he will blow up major cities.
It was meant to be the first James Bond film, but Thunderball became part of a long drawn out legal battle between Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and Ian Fleming. Eventually an out of court settlement was reached and Thunderball rolled into theatres in 1965. After the colossal success of Goldfinger, and Bond as a pop culture phenomenon, producers Albert Broccoli & Harry Saltzman knew that they had to try and up the ante to keep Bond on top. They were also acutely aware that many imitators were springing up on film and TV. These facts led Bond to go epic, with the producers going for a more is more approach, however, Thunderball is a considerable step down from Goldfinger.
As with many other Bond movies, Thunderball polarises opinions amongst the fans. Some are happy to laud the pure entertainment value on offer, the reliance on hardware and gadgets viewed as an aid to the Bond persona and not a hindrance to his humanistic worth. Technically the film is often exceptional, be it on or under the water, director Young really crafts some Bondian quality. The exotic Bahamas locale is beautifully realised by Ted Moore, Barry's blunderbuss score is one of his best for a Bond movie and Connery has charisma in abundance. The girls, too, are delightful, particularly Auger who positively sizzles with sexuality. Bond's by play with M, Q and Felix Leiter (Nutter very enjoyable and more charismatic than Cec Linder in Goldfinger) is well scripted and performed. While for those who adore the gadgets and daring stunts? Thunderball excels with its assortment of trick vehicles, under water weaponry and aids and radioactive pills! Without doubt the near $6 million budget is all up there on the screen.
Yet for other fans, and this is the category I fall into, it's a film of too many flaws to be considered one of the greats. Whilst it's undeniable that when it hits the high points it excites royally (the extended underwater battle is eye popping brilliance), but there's too much languid passages in the overlong running time. Young himself lamented that he couldn't get the pace right on account of the plot structure. The other major problem for me is Celi as Largo. Visually he's striking, with his white hair and eye patch, he well looks villainous, but physically he's wrong and someone you can't buy into as a man able to not only take on Bond, but to overcome him as well! While the finale lacks a grandness to reward those having sat for over 2 hours with the film. But what do I know? Film made a stunning $141 million at the box office! And the fanaticism that began with Goldfinger reached epic proportions here.
The more is more approach worked for the makers, and it ensured that for the time being Bond was going to stay in this epic, gadget, effects strewn groove. Connery wasn't happy, he had voiced his concerns about Bond becoming characterless, while he hated the mania surrounding the films and his role within them. He would return for the next instalment, You Only Live Twice, question was, would it be his last performance as Bond? 7/10
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