Bond in Review: Thunderball

Allen L. Linton II
8 min readMar 1, 2019

I really like the James Bond franchise. This is part four of a bimonthly, 24-part series of me watching James Bond movies and providing a stream of consciousness style commentary for a given film. I will also rank the movies so stay tuned for that at the bottom of the piece. Our fourth film, Thunderball, was originally planned to be the first movie before legal troubles derailed it. It wouldn’t be the last time lawyers were all over the Ian Fleming/Kevin McClory drunken screenplay. Released in 1965, the title is from a novel of the same name which was the ninth James Bond novel released in 1961

· Sean Connery taking the time to do the gun barrel. Rejoice!

· Oh James, he can’t help but make a reference for fun activity later with the representative from the French station

· And Bond has just punched a widow who is actually the Cornel. This is a legitimately fantastic opening set

· I haven’t spent a ton of time in heels, but if there is a fight happening, I can’t imagine that heels are a good thing to have on. It’s impressive he lasted so long.

· Bond, always the gentleman, takes time for flowers.

o He will be doing lots of pausing before leaving this movie.

· Jet pack! So this is an incredibly real stunt with a real jet pack. The stuntperson said he’d only do it with a helmet on so Connery’s rug is under the helmet too.

· What is the dirt on the Aston Martin? And why isn’t this dirt anywhere else on the set?

· “Thunderball” — Tom Jones

· The opening title sequence really does foreshadow how much of this movie is slow, underwater action

· Peter Hunt as Supervising Editor — you’ll be able to see his innovative quick cutting all over.

· Tom Jones did, indeed, pass out when hitting that final note when recording this in studio. It works

· Eye patch > no parking rules.

· The idea of having and wearing a coat just on your shoulders is so weird to me. Just have a cape at that point.

· I get Largo wants to be discrete before opening the secret door but that door is loud as hell.

· Today in Evil News

o Cornel Bouvar was number 7 in SPECTRE. RIP

o Blackmail of a Japanese agent only yielded 40 million yen

o A French antimatter specialist was assassinated after joining the Russians for 3 million francs paid by the special department of Quai d’Orsay. Shady business.

o SPECTRE consulted on a British train robbery for 250,000 pounds. Sounds like consultants

o Red China narcotics are being distributed in the US at the cost of $2,300,000. This was under expectations.

· Electrocution chair for embezzlement. Did not act in accordance to the over the top SPECTRE acronym. If only he engaged in extortion.

· I cannot figure out why bad people feel the need to have obvious tattoos giving them away.

· “On yogurt and lemon juice” — I think this is a reference to Bond being at a clinic and not being strong enough to put Moneypenny over his knee. Yeesh.

· Red Dragon (wait call Dr. Lector) symbol leads Bond to engage in some snooping…but he has to have a grape before he leaves. Just get a full meal first.

· Bond being his typical and awful assaulting self — this is really bad and only gets worse.

· TRACTION TABLE!

· Bond strapped down to a table is probably the safest any woman could feel around him.

· Traction acting separating the talentless with the talent-limited.

· And why does the traction machine have a setting that could kill them?

· And Bond is now blackmailing a nurse into sex for something she didn’t do…the worst.

· “See ya later, irrigator.” Bad pun or worst pun?

· Another machine that can kill someone.

· Clever shooting. It’s a film of himself.

· Not clever: backing out of and then trying to be a power player against an organization that routinely murders people

· Bond put on his pants and shirt faster than anyone I’ve ever seen

· …and he is walking barefoot and that is really unsettling

· One of the best parts of this plan is the work we see Angelo do to take over the jet he’s stolen. It isn’t a piece of cake and we get to see why he wanted more money because he is doing something genuinely unbelievable

· This is a model that sits under the water. It’s a good model

· SPECTRE — ruthless.

· The underwater work is technically really good but it is painfully slow. PAINFULLY SLOW.

· I do like the underwater music that they return to over and over again in the movie. John Barry can just have my soul (but not my tax money)

· So Largo took off his wet suit, toweled off, and immediately put on a blazer? That’s a choice.

o It’s now daytime and is that the same blazer?

· “Licensed trouble shooter.” That’s a good one

· SPECTRE execution department has to stay busy given the number of slipups.

· Conference room meeting = largest, most ridiculously sized room I’ve seen

o Are they sitting 50 feet away from the double-0 agents?

· Conference room with a giant fake picture covering a giant real map and Africa has some odd shaped countries based on the scale

· Thunderball is a GREAT code name

· Look at M sticking up for Bond and his experience.

· Sadly we won’t get Bond in Canada — he hasn’t been there at all.

· Get off that sea turtle’s back!!!

· Bond is mighty lucky being at the clinic and underwater at the right time.

· Paula acting while acting “Not at all.”

· Domino just drove the boat right up to the shore and, well, that seems mighty dangerous.

· Conch chowder. Say it three times.

· Bond is just being a creepy, harassing, bad guy through this movie. On brand

· The goal is to get closest to 9 in this game.

· SPECTRE puns. This is a fantastic scene. They both know each other but are “gentlemen” about it but can’t stop themselves from poking the bear

· WAIT WAIT! Is the band behind Bond pretending to play music but they aren’t playing anything? And people are dancing without music. HAHA

· Double-breasted jackets are not my style but I do like the white tuxedo

· SO this movie was the first movie to establish my discomfort with connecting rooms. The ol 304/306 fake out.

· Like the choice to have the camera follow the steps while we listen to the tape. Small but good direction

· That door to the face was pretty brutal.

· Bond stopped Felix from saying 007 but then said 007 right in front of Quist? Bond just wanted to punch CIA

· Another SPECTRE person killed by SPECTRE. Way to go all Darth Vader in Empire Strike Back on everyone.

· “Oh no.” Q and Bond really going at it.

o Bond does seem to act like a child with these gadgets. I’d be pissed too

· Rebreather is the best gadget he ever gets.

· Diamonds by De Beers…nothing is going right thus far.

· Hello I am a spy, let me go out in the brightest, orangest wetsuit I can find

· Largo is in a robe and a collared shirt — he stays ready for business.

· Love the tridents they use.

· Good thing he is discreet with that wetsuit on.

· Fiona Volpe is formally introduced and is fantastic…except for the big baddy ring she is rocking.

· Bond looking very uncomfortable going fast in a car — doesn’t like to be taken for a ride I guess

· Why is Felix Leiter dressed like a peafowl?

· Fiona Volpe is a schemer and an executioner. She is outstanding

· WHY ARE THEY BEING SO OBVIOUS ABOUT WATCHING LARGO?

· One of my favorite scenes in any Bond movie. Witty one-liners, physical play, and antagonism.

o Gun for a woman

o Ease of shooting

· Largo clowning Vargas for no reason at all.

· Sneaky Bond. The best Bond is sneaky Bond. Worst is womanizing, my penis solves everything Bond.

· Great move getting the power cut to avoid any alarms

· Cyanide capsule in the mouth — Silva should be upset about his not working

· Bond smartly gets them to shoot at each other. Foolishly drops his gun. Does each Bond have a moment where they lose their gun in a bad way?

· I mean sure there is a tunnel connecting the pools but the contamination of water is pretty disappointing too

· Genuine fear from Sean Connery as the shark was not separated by the glass as planned. Dicey work

· Slippers is pretty cheeky

· Volpe seems to know the Bond history pretty well and isn’t going to fall into the same traps. A good dressing down of the male ego. Love it

· Something Bond movies should do more of is shooting and hitting Bond. It adds an element of realism and drama that is helpful

· Dog peeing in the middle of the shot

· Good escalation in tension in a movie that has wild pacing

· The check-ins on M and leadership just add nothing to the stakes

· Peafowl shirt Felix is back. Is this his flying shirt?

· Gosh shoot me at this pacing and not the shark

· Great music and I guess you need to show Bond putting everything together but the pacing does kill this movie.

o I think there are good cases of the audience knowing what is happening then watching Bond piece it together and bad cases. This is a bad case

· Bubbles but not bubbles that tickle her…Tchaikovsky!

· “I must her you again.” — that is some cold set up to reveal a deceased family member

· Bond killing Vargas is awesome but it caps off a woefully underused character that turns out to be a total waste of space beside flinging some grenades

· Two straight Bond movies that include Miami, this one as a target of aggression. Goldfinger played cards and killed a woman there.

· So we have an underwater fight that is hard to figure out who is doing what and where Bond is at. And Bond is trapped.

· The underwater flares are pretty amazing to me. Probably some awful chemical combination for the environment but looks impressive

· I’m happy the doctor intervened but he could’ve knocked on the door

· Bond trapped, Bond stuck, Bond sitting down bringing this movie to a halt

· We are back underwater and on the move with enforcements all over the place and now a cool shot of armed forces hitting the water.

· So here is my confusion: are the harpoons just a one shot deal and then the rest is now hand to hand combat?

· The prospect of so many different ways to dispose of an enemy is pleasing: taking off the mask, cutting air, harpoon to the chest.

· Long, underwater fight is happening and is impressive and is not holding my interest

· Great shot in the back of the tank by that extra

· Animal cruelty against sharks is at an all time high. Awful

· The Disco Volante separating into two vehicles is such a genuine surprise that plays every time

· Decent fight at the end sadly not helped by the speeding ramping and awkward green-screen driving footage. Avoid the rocks!

· Bond in a vehicle with a woman at the end.

· The Dark Night takes this directly from Thunderball. I always wonder how they are supposed to get in the vehicle after being extracted via plane but there ya go.

It’s a fun movie that is divisive in the community of Bond fans. I find it to be a slog and it interferes with a pretty decent story. My updated Bond rankings…

1) From Russia With Love

2) Goldfinger

3) Dr. No

4) Thunderball

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Allen L. Linton II

Free writing about politics, sports, intersection between the two, and Chicago.