In contrast to the earlier Bond Movies, "Thunderball" is as massive as its ballistic title. In both production and box office terms, this was the first epic of the series. Like most epics, the cinematic art of editing is sorely neglected in an ocean of superfluous aquatic footage. Nevertheless, in this, the fourth instalment in the series from the original team, you have a classic Bond film that wants for nothing but a trim. Trading tux for snorkel, Connery was by this time inseparable from the persona.
The plot itself is simple. SPECTRE pinch a couple of atom bombs and hold NATO to ransom. The 00 agents are put on the case, leading 007 to the Bahamas. Suspicious but beautiful European women such as former Miss France, Claudine Auger (Domino) and ruthless Italian Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe) abound. Italy provides the super-villain too, in the shape of Adolfo Celi as a thuggish Emilio Largo.
It's possible that in Tom Jones' hilarious opener there's a hint of the campy direction the franchise would later take when he sings, "He knows the meaning of success. His needs are more so he gives less." However, there is little of the irony Jones trades off today.
Much that was later lampooned in Bond spoofs both within the series, and in the world at large, is featured here. SPECTRE really do wipe out unsatisfactory agents with exploding chairs. Emilio Largo really does have a shark-infested swimming pool. Throw in jetpacks, detachable cruise ships, and some fun down at the health farm and the template is complete.
Remade as "Never Say Never Again".
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