The 007 Series: Thunderball (1965)

Synopsis:

The evil organization SPECTRE steals two warheads from NATO and demands 100 million pounds for their return. James Bond (Sean Connery, Marnie) travels to the Bahamas where he suspects the weapons are kept.

Reaction & Thoughts:

It had to happen sooner of later, the Aston Martin ran out of gas. Thunderball is just not as good as any of the three films that preceded it. Connery must have felt something was not right here because he demanded script changes during the pre-production phase. The flow of the story is a bit erratic. We have a series of vignettes that vary in quality and excitement. And it has too many coincidences.

Maybe because both movies take place in the Caribbean, Thunderball kept reminded me of Dr. No (1962). Unfortunately, the fourth adventure lacks the smoothness of the first entry in the series —  it’s also a bit long in the tooth.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad action flick, but I felt that the movie is a few notches below the high quality level established by producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman — the franchise has done much better.

There is no denying that this is a super-production with many eye-catching sequences. The movie opens up with an admittedly exciting pre-title sequence. The best section consists of some excellent underwater footage. This is the first film in the series shot (by Ted Moore) in widescreen and the wide-angle lenses give the movie the necessary visual kick that such an elaborate and expensive production screams for — the film does look great!

Adolfo Celi (That Man from Rio) is good as super-villain Largo. He is clearly not as interesting nor as charismatic as previous foes like “Dr. No” and “Goldfinger,” but he’s good enough. I thought Luciana Paluzzi’s bad girl Fiona was much better. Too bad that Paluzzi’s exit is a bit flat. Claudine Auger and Martine Beswick (she had played a different role in From Russia with Love) are gorgeous “good girls.”

I loved the fact that ‘M” (Bernard Lee) and “Moneypenny” (Lois Maxwell) have much more screen time than usual — they appear throughout the whole movie, something that won’t ever happen again.

Ken Adam creates some truly fantastic sets. Adam’s most eye-grabbing creations are NATO’s headquarters and the Blofeld’s futuristic lair. The title song is perhaps my biggest disappointment — after the bombastic song in Goldfinger (1964), you are left wanting more, much more.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Thunderball is good but not top-tier Bond. In a strange twist of fate the rights to the story went back to executive producer Kevin McClory, which enabled him to remake the film in 1983 as Never Say Never Again (1983). Color, 127 minutes, Rated PG.

James Bond will return
in
You Only Live Twice (1967)

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