Welcome to my April A-Z! This month I will be posting about James Bond 007 every day except Sunday, mostly focusing on the movies, not the books. Enjoy!
When adjusted for ticket price inflation, Thunderball (1965) is the most financially successful Bond film. It was the fourth in the 007 franchise, and the Eon producers (Broccoli/Saltzman) had to overcome a legal dispute to release it. Ian Fleming had been sued by the cowriters of another screenplay, as they claimed that Thunderball copied that script. Finally, the lawsuit settled and the film was allowed to be made and released. One of the writers/producers, Kevin McClory, retained some rights, which allowed him to make the non-Eon, Taliafilm Never Say Never Again in 1983 in connection with Warner Bros, which essentially was a remake of Thunderball.
This film is notable for Sean Connery as Bond making use of a jet-pack gadget to escape from some baddies shooting at him. The actual “flight” was done by a stunt double with 007’s face appearing at the beginning and end. Naturally, a beautiful girl is waiting at Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 to unhook him from the pack and help him finish his getaway.
There’s a convoluted plot involving SPECTRE baddies changing their faces and voices to impersonate peeps, with the goal being to steal a couple British nukes, which Emilio Largo, the head of SPECTRE (his first name is changed to Maximillian in NSNA), will then attempt to ransom for $100M of diamonds. We see all this recreated in NSNA but with fancier special effects and retinal scans. As word of the plan gets out, 007 is sent to set things to rights in the Bahamas where it’s all going down. There, Bond meets Domino, Largo’s mistress [look at me, so non-PC!], who of course falls for Bond. There’s a tense poker game with Bond beating Largo (see first image).
Another notable moment in this film is when Largo throws one of his henchmen to the sharks because he failed to kill bond. The stuntman, Bill Cummings, was required to leap onto a live shark, and he received hazard pay for doing so. Another stuntman, John Stears, almost died when he was battling a “dead” shark except it wasn’t quite, and there was suddenly a shark feeding frenzy, with the stuntman getting pulled out of the water at the last second. The footage was kept in the film and Stears won an Oscar for it (in 1978 he won a second one for Star Wars). But those aren’t even the most exciting shark moments, nope. For the scene in which Bond himself was trapped in the shark pool, he demanded a Plexiglass barrier. This was agreed to and constructed… except they didn’t have enough Plexiglass and a shark found its way into the gap. Luckily for us (and him), Sean escaped and went on to make You Only Live Twice (apt title!).
There’s so much info about this film, the Bond girls’ casting, the theme song, the explosions, etc., that my post would be humongous if I included all the info. I will throw this morsel to you: Bond’s “breathing apparatus” fooled the British Royal Engineers, one of whom called up the draftsman and asked how it worked and how long you could breathe underwater with it. He was annoyed to find out it didn’t work at all in reality. Those tricky filmmakers! Whatever will they think of next?
Oh, you can actually visit the “Thunderball Grotto” in the Bahamas. Look how beautiful it is!
Tune in tomorrow for more A-Z Bond!
Information and images from Wikipedia, IMDB, MentalFloss, and Bahamar.com.
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