Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The 007 Project: Thunderball

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
It's all double-00s on deck when SPECTRE steals two atomic bombs and threatens to blow up a city unless they're paid 100 million pounds in diamonds. Bond goes to the Bahamas to investigate a lead, and he discovers the plot led by Largo, SPECTRE's number two, and Fiona Volpe, a red-headed assassin. He also meets Domino, Largo's mistress and the sister of the bomb transport pilot who was killed by SPECTRE. 

Memorable Quote:
My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for king and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?  ~Bond

The entire middle third once Bond gets to the Bahamas is outstanding, especially the part when he's sneaking around Largo's home base at night. 

The underwater scenes, while well filmed, are simply too long. 

Most interesting piece of IMDB trivia:
The jetpack that Bond uses to escape his enemies was no special effect, but a real jetpack provided by the U.S. Air Force. Initially, Sir Sean Connery was to fly the jetpack without a helmet (and some publicity photos of him with the jetpack were made with him without a helmet). This was because he would have looked more debonair. It was later decided that he wear a helmet in the scene. This was for risk and safety reasons, as the pilot refused not to wear a helmet, and the scenes had to match.

I wouldn't have guessed that the jetpack was a real thing, or that Connery actually flew it. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I didn't remember the opening at all. It's quirky, but I like it. Not sure how he got the jet pack in place before meeting the SPECTRE agent or how he knew he'd need a jet pack to get away, but any time a jetpack is involved there's no point in asking too many questions. 
  • Thunderball by Tom Jones is a great Bond song. The story goes that Jones passed out in the studio due to holding the final note for so long. That's not unusual (see what I just did there?)
  • There was a legal brouhaha regarding the original Thunderball novel. In short, Ian Fleming mapped out the story with Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham for a potential movie, and then a few years later he wrote the book using the same story without crediting the others. They sued Fleming and won shared rights to the story, and McClory was made a producer on the Thunderball movie. Later, McClory spearheaded the Never Say Never Again remake with Sean Connery that is based on Thunderball but is not produced by EON and therefore not considered by most people to be an "official" Bond movie. 
  • 17:00 mark - an uncomfortable moment where Bond basically commits sexual assault by telling the masseuse to have sex with him in exchange for not tattling on her. 
  • 29:55 - pretty impressive to have underwater landing lights in the middle of the ocean. 
  • 39:12 - great scene in the immaculate conference room as Bond walks in late and is disdainfully scolded by M before taking his seat in the 7th position of the 9 double-00s.
  • 49:23 - A woman turns her head to look at Bond when he walks by, and then 10 seconds later another woman smiles at him after he almost bumps into her.  Then at 54:33, the hotel front desk clerk stares longingly at him as he walks away. That's why they say that Bond is the guy that women want to be with and men want to be. 
  • The Bahamas was a long way to go for Q -- why couldn't he just equip Bond back in London? We also have our third Felix Leiter actor -- this particular one wasn't a great actor. 
  • Martine Beswick, who plays Paula, appeared as one of the gypsy women fighters in From Russia With Love
  • 51:55 - The classy, low-key party looks so much more fun than the parties of today -- I guess I was born out of my time. 
  • 1:20:58 - director Terence Young said that Connery was not acting when he looked shocked as the shark swam by. There was a small gap in the partition separating Connery from the sharks, and one shark found his way through.
  • 1:27:13 - during the parade chase (which reminds me a bit of Lost Love), there's a random shot of a dog lifting his leg to urinate and people in the parade wearing 007 hats (circled below). 

  • 1:34:20 - Bond is way too calm when he jumps into the shark infested waters to have a look around.
  • 1:37:25 - it seems like they're implying that Bond and Domino have sex underwater in scuba gear. 
  • Fun fact about Domino: She wears almost all black and white (like a domino). 
  • All of the Bond movies so far have ended abruptly, and this one does as well. I was surprised that Bond actually allowed himself and Domino to be rescued given his usual pattern of forgoing the rescue attempt. And Domino doesn't look to be attached to the hoist device and is just hanging on to Bond. And what happened to the scientist that couldn't swim? I guess they just left him to drown. 

Final Analysis:
I didn't remember much about this movie other than that it was my favorite of the Connery movies. Upon rewatching, it might not be quite as great as I remembered, but I still like it a lot and am putting it #1 on my list. I always love when Bond goes to the Caribbean, and Largo is a strong villain. I'm also a big Domino fan, and Fiona Volpe steals the show as the charismatic femme fatale. And a great theme song to boot -- thanks to Tom Jones for sacrificing his body for the final note. 

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen this in more than 20 years but I remember it being a pretty long sit. The underwater images were tantalizing early on but when I was 120 minutes into the movie with no end in sight they started to lose their shine. Like all of these, I'd have to revisit to be able to judge them fairly.