|Terence Young Director||previously directed The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders|
The 4th official James Bond movie. After SPECTRE steals two nuclear warheads, Bond must travel to the Bahamas to foil an international extortion scheme.
The budget for this film was more than all previous Bond films combined.
THUNDERBALL is a sequel to DR. NO.
|Sean Connery||James Bond|
|Claudine Auger||Domino Derval|
|Adolfo Celi||Emilio Largo|
|Luciana Paluzzi||Fiona Volpe|
|Rik Van Nutter||Felix Leiter|
|Guy Doleman||Count Lippe|
|Martine Beswick||Paula Caplan|
|See Full Credits|
With the success of Goldfinger, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli already knew the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball, would be a smash hit. Once again, the criminal organization of SPECTRE holds the world ransom leaving the dashing secret agent James Bond 007 the only man to stand in their way.
James Bond (Sean Connery) attends a funeral of Colonel Bouvar who killed two of Bond’s friends. At the funeral he realizes that the Colonel is still alive and disguised as a woman. Bond confronts the Colonel and ends up killing the colonel himself. Chased by henchmen, Bond uses a stashed jet pack and flies himself to his DB5 and escapes.
In Paris, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) attends a SPECTRE meeting headed by Ernst Blofeld. Largo explains his plan to hold NATO ransom for 280 million dollars and 100 million pounds starting by using their agent Count Lippe (Guy Doleman) who is stationed near a NATO base in a health spa. At the spa, Bond is also relaxing and notices a tattoo on Lippe’s arm, making him suspicious. While sneaking around Lippe’s room, Bond is nearly caught by a bandaged man.
Nearby at Major Derval’s apartment, a NATO pilot, Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) has seduced him into thinking they are in a romantic relationship. Before he can leave for his mission, Lippe shows up with a man named Angelo Palazzi (Paul Stassino) who has undergone surgery to look exactly like Derval. With Derval dead, Volpe gives Angelo all the necessary credentials he needs after he renegoitates for more money. Angelo uses Derval’s persona to get aboard a bomber holding several nuclear warheads.
Back at the spa, Bond sees Lippe return with Derval’s dead body. Bond discovers Derval’s dead body, unaware whose face he is looking at. On the bomber that Angelo snuck aboard, he gasses the rest of the crew and water lands the plane near Emilio Largo’s ship the Disco Volante. Once underwater, Largo’s men kill Angelo, take the nuclear missile payload, and disguise the plane now sitting on the bottom of the ocean. Displeased with Lippe’s choice of Angelo, Blofeld orders the death of Lippe.
Back at the spa, Bond leaves once ordered back by MI6 and is followed by Lippe. Lippe attempts to kill Bond, but before Bond can defend himself with the DB5, a weaponized motorcycle approaches from the rear and blows Lippe’s car to smitherens. The motorcycle driver is gone before Bond can follow and dumps the bike into a river after taking off her helmet. The driver is revealed to be Fiona Volpe.
At MI6 headquarters, Bond is informed at a high level meeting that SPECTRE is holding both the USA and England ransom unless they produce 100 million pounds in seven days. The mission to attempt and find the nuclear bombs before the time limit is up is called Thunderball.
Initially, M (Bernard Lee) planned to send Bond to Canada, but Bond convinces M to send him to Nassau instead. In the briefing, Bond recognizes the face of Derval. Nassau is the location of Derval’s sister, Domino (Claudine Auger). After this realization, M sends 007 to Nassau immediately.
In Nassau, Domino is skin diving in the coral reefs and becomes stuck. Bond, who has been following her, helps her escape and makes first contact with Domino. At lunch she reveals that her guardian Largo is having her followed.
That night, 007 plays cards against Emilio Largo, who has Domino at his side. Largo recognizes James Bond, and Bond makes it very clear that he knows Largo works for SPECTRE. The card game ends with Largo losing and Bond having dinner alone with Domino. Largo shows up while they dance and invites Bond to lunch another day.
The next day Bond returns to his hotel and is unable to find his Nassau contact, Paula Caplan (Martine Beswick). With a knock at the door, Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter) enters the room and the both of them smoke out the assassin sent to kill Bond.
At night Bond attempts to investigate Largo’s Disco Volante, but is discovered by the underwater guards and has to make his escape. Before he leaves, he manages to take a few pictures with his new camera. Escaping more of Largo’s men, Bond makes it to the beach and hitches a ride with Fiona Volpe. During the harrowing drive, Bond recognizes the symbol on her ring connecting her to SPECTRE. She drives Bond back to the hotel where the pictures Bond took are developed. In the pictures, they discover the secret hatch in the bottom of the Disco Volante.
Bond deduces that it was Largo that took the bombs, meaning the plane had to be somewhere near Nassau. Felix and Bond make their first helicopter pass hoping to find the missing plane. On their way back, Bond gets a good look at Largo’s Nassau home.
Once landed, Bond visits Largo’s home where Largo shows off his shark pit and his right hand man, Mr. Vargas. In Bond’s hotel room, Paula returns alone, only to be caught by Volpe and several men.
During the local Mardi Gras celebration on Nassau, Bond is taken away from Domino’s company when Felix tells him that Paula is missing and has checked out of the hotel. Believing Paula has been taken to Largo’s estate, Bond arranges for the power to be cut so he can sneak into the complex. In the estate, Bond finds Paula dead from the cyanide pill she takes. With all of Largo’s men on high alert, Bond escapes through the shark tank to safety.
Bond returns to Paula’s room and finds Volpe has already checked into it and is currently bathing. After having sex with Bond, Volpe brings in her henchmen to take Bond hostage. After exchanging verbal blows, Bond escapes her henchmen admist the chaos of the Mardi Gras celebration. 007 then seeks refuge in a dance club. Surrounded by Volpe’s men, Bond begins to dance with Volpe. In an attempt to kill Bond, Vargas fires underneath the sound of the drums. At the last second Bond sees the gun pointing at him and shoves Volpe in the way, killing her.
With only fourteen hours until the deadline, Felix and Bond take the helicopter out again to look for the missing plane. Using a hint that Largo gave Bond earlier, Bond finds the plane, but discovers that the nuclear bombs are missing. 007 also finds Angelo’s dead body with Darvel’s watch on his wrist. Bond takes the watch with him.
Bond finds Domino scuba diving again. After they have underwater sex, Bond asks for her help in bringing Largo to justice. At first she refuses, until Bond uses her brother's watch to convince her that Largo is responsible for her brother's death. While they are talking, Vargas tries to kill Bond and Domino, but instead Vargas takes a spear to the chest.
Using the information Domino gave him, Bond finds a secret dock used by Largo. Bond disguises himself as one of Largo’s divers and follows them to an secret underwater cave that is storing the missing nuclear bombs. While loading the bombs, Largo spots Bond and escapes--locking Bond in the hidden underwater cave.
On the Disco Volante, Largo discovers that Domino has betrayed him and locks her in her room.
Felix leads the Coast Guard in looking for Bond. By daybreak they find him and pull him out of the cave. Bond tells Felix to warn his government that the target is Maimi and that an underwater crew will place the bomb just off the coast.
The American government deploys a scuba army to fight off Largo’s men and recover the bombs. During the huge fight, Bond uses a super scuba suit to fight off Largo’s men. With his men defeated, Largo runs back to the Disco Volante and attempts to make an escape. On board, Bond is overwhelmed by Largo, who is eventually shot to death by Domino. At the last second, Bond and Domino escape the Disco Volante before it explodes.
In 1959 Ian Fleming had already decided that it was a good time for a James Bond film even after the disappointing 1955 TV show. With the help of filmmaker Kevin McClory and screenwriter Jack Whittingham Fleming set off to write a script. During the process Fleming quickly became bored and irratated with the screen writing process and abandoned the project. Returning to his home in Jamaica, called Goldeneye, Fleming wrote the 8th Bond novel Thunderball based on the failed script. By 1961 McClory got his hands on an early copy of Thunderball and filed suit for the fact that some of the material was his.
With Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli hunting down the rights of Bond in ‘61 they made Ian Fleming an offer that he took. The original idea for the first Bond film was to make Thunderball instead of Dr. No, even long time Bond writer Richard Maibaum was hired to write a draft, but due to the suit this made it impossible. By 1964 the Bond franchise exploded especially after the success of Goldfinger and a deal was struck with McClory, who won the suit, to make the fourth Bond film Thunderball.
Guy Hamilton, director of Goldfinger, was immediately asked to direct the fourth film. However he declined even though he loved the series. He feared he was creatively bankrupt and need to “recharge his batteries.” The producers turned back to Dr. No and From Russia with Love director Terence Young to return as well as writer Richard Maibaum with newcomer John Hopkins. Designer Ken Adams also returned to the team creating magnificent interior structures with his hand picked team of carpenters, painters, and architects.
The biggest obsticle the filmmakers faced was that 25% of the screenplay took place exculsively underwater. Ricou Browning was hired to direct all of the huge underwater sequences. With Ricou hired the entire cast and crew under went training to learn how to scuba dive.
With the crew training it was up to the producers and director to start casting. First was the part of Domino in which hundreds of women were seen for the part including Julie Christie, Raquel Welch, and even Faye Dunaway. Included in the casting call for Domino was Luciana Paluzzi. However instead of getting the part of the leading lady Paluzzi was given the role of the evil Fiona Volpe of which Paluzzi was more excited to play. Eventually Claudine Auger, past Miss France, was given the part.
On Febuary the 16th 1965 principle photography began on the fourth James Bond film Thunderball in France which was premiering the previous Bond film, Goldfinger, at the same time.
With the great success of Goldfinger’s pre credit sequence great care went into Thunderballs first scene. This included having an experimental jet pack used in the scene called a Bell/Extron Rocket pack which was developed for the military. There were only two men that were even qualified to fly the jet pack and they were both flown out to France to shoot the scene. Pilot Bill Sutter was asked to fly without a helmet on the shoot of the film but he refused and Bond was forced to wear an unstylish helmet.
The big car cash of Thunderball was filmed on the Silverstone racing circuit in North Hampton England. The stunt was shot at very high speeds and the car that was rigged to explode was driven by famous stuntman Bob Simmons. On one shot the car exploded on que but then drove off into a ditch with Simmons no where to be seen. Director Terence Young raced to the sign of the crash desperately looking for the stuntmen. Behind the panicking director Simmons walked up took off his helmet and asked if they got the shot. It was another camera crew from The Incredible World of James Bond that filmed Simmon’s, while on fire, jumping out of the car moments before it crashed.
With the extreme hype for Thunderball from the public and the rampent success of Goldfinger Ken Adams took the oppurtunity to do whatever he wanted when it came to the design of the film. Largo’s yacht in the film was originally another boat they payed ten grand for and then completely redesigned the boat to Adams specifications. To create the seperating boat effect in the film Adams connected the two halfs with two simple yet strong hinges that allowed both halfs to move independently from each other. With the hinges released the front half of the yacht could speed away. For the underwater submersibles Adams let his imagination get away with him and didn’t think anyone could really design these small submarines. Jordan Kline, an expert at the time on small submarines, felt that Adams designs were possible to make.
The producers created a back breaking schedule to make a Christmas release that forced some of the prop making crews to sleep in shifts to get the work done in time.
On March the 22nd, 1965 the entire cast and crew were flown out to the tiny island of Nassau to continue shooting. With the massive success of the film franchise the cast and crew were given every luxury imaginable.
At the time no one knew what a nuclear missile looked like. When on tour of a military base Peter Lamont, the Chief Draftsman, took an hidden camera to take pictures of everything. While on the tour Lamont kept asking the squadron leader what nuclear bombs looked like. Able to keep the secrecy mildly intact the squadron leader simple told them that all their questions could be answered by just looking around. Later Lamont simply guessed what pictures had the bombs in them and designed the bombs that were in Thunderball after the ones that he guessed were the bombs. He guessed correctly giving the world their first look at what a real nuclear bomb looked like. On the wharf in the Bahamas they built a full sized replica of the Vulcan bomber. Within three weeks the fake bomber was ready to go.
During shooting in Nassau nearly 150 reporters came out and took pictures and interviews of the cast. Still a private man Sean Connery was hounded even more by reporters. To keep them at bay Connery provided a single interview to Playboy magazine.
Finding an appropriate villa that had several swimming pools did not present a problem. However filling them with sharks and getting Sean Connery in the pool with them was much more difficult. A plexiglass fence was created to seperate the actor from the sharks. What Connery wasn’t told that the fence was incomplete. A diver was placed at the gab but for some reason, once Connery was underwater, a shark got through terrifiying the actor.
In order to create the effect that Connery was being chased by a shark while he was escaping the pool John Stears rigged a dead shark on a wire that would be pulled on cue. Stears had to personally hold the dead shark in place for the shot and was told by director Terence Young to keep backing up. Before Stears realized what was going on he was in the middle of the pool surrounded by living sharks and the supposably dead shark he was holding suddenly came to life and started fighting with the other sharks. Stears escaped safely.
For Thunderballs final climatic scene over sixty divers were used in the filming. Lemar Bornum, a key developer of underwater photography, was brought on to shoot the sequence with Ricou Browning directing. To create the effect of the super dive tank that Bond wears in the film the stuntman was attactched to a thin wire that was dragged by a speed boat. Real sharks were also used in the final battle. The divers quickly found the tiger sharks were the most complinat while the Lemon and Bull sharks had a tendency to turn on the individual that was originally holding them in place.
Colonel Russhon was the main force in getting all the military equipment that was seen in Thunderball. His relationship with Saltzman and Broccoli started in Goldfinger when he was able to get the filmmakers a tour of Fort Knox. One of the items Russhon was able to get visual effects designer John Stears was rocket fuel for Largo’s yacht. With it only arriving the night before Stears only had enough time to rig it up and wasn’t able to test it. He was completely unaware how powerful the fuel was. The next day they shot the scene of the exploding boat. The explosion was so massive that they blew out the windows of Nassua thirty miles away.
In May the crew returned to Pinewood studios to finish shooting. Only one scene remained which was the fight on Largo’s yacht the Disco Volante. For weeks they shot the entire scene while the set was on rockers making it very difficult to shoot at times.
At first Shirley Bassey was brought on to sing Thunderballs new theme song Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. However the filmmakers began to worry that the song wouldn’t go over since the title of the film wasn’t in the song. With only weeks to go the song is scrapped and John Barry brings in Tom Jones to sing a new theme for the film that includes the title of the film.
On December the 21st of 1965 Thunderball was released to an eager public. Once again the Bond franchise broke every record in the books beating out it’s predassor Goldfinger.
At the premiere of the films the cast was nearly mobbed except for Sean Connery who decided to no longer attend any premieres after Goldfinger. Audiences were so taken aback by the film that reality and fiction began to blur. Peter Lamont received a phone call asking how Bond’s rebreather device worked.
Once again the world goes crazy for the Bond franchise. Nearly every magaizine in the world had some image of Thunderball on it’s front cover. Merchandise flew off the shelves including the soundtrack of Thunderball that actually made some of musics top charts. Everything was considered a potential holder of the James Bond name from toys to vodka.
At that years Oscars John Stears received the award for Best Visual Effects.
Thunderball showed continued success with re-releases into theatres. In 1974 Thunderball is premiered on television, bringing millions of viewers to ABC. in a health spa
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