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THUNDERBALL (director: Terence Young; screenwriters: John Hopkins/Richard Maibaum/based on the novel by Ian Fleming/from a story by Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory & Jack Whittingham; cinematographer: Ted Moore; editor: Peter Hunt; music: John Barry; cast: Sean Connery (James Bond), Claudine Auger (Domino Derval), Adolfo Celi (Emilio Largo), Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe), Rik Van Nutter (Felix Leiter), Bernard Lee (M), Martine Beswick (Paula), Guy Doleman (Count Lippe), Paul Stassino (Major Francois Derval/Angelo Palazzi), Desmond Llewellyn (Q), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny), Philip Locke (Vargas), Molly Peters (Patricia Fearing); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Kevin McClory/Albert R. Broccoli/Harry Saltzman; United Artists; 1965-UK)
“It was still fun despite its shortcomings.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This is the fourth entry in the James Bond series and begins its critical downfall as it resorts to a plethora of gadgets, crass sexual one-liners, too many superficial ogling eye candy shots of hot chicks in bikinis and a troubling phony sleekness to cover over the absurd formulaic plot. Nevertheless it was a tremendous hit at the box office, Sean Connery said it was his favorite Bond film (probably meaning the great actor is no film critic) and it was still fun despite its shortcomings. Terence Young (“That Lady”/”Dr. No”/”Wait Until Dark”) directs by keeping the action on the high volume button, and the writers John Hopkins and Richard Maibaum keep things breezy and escapist. It’s based on Ian Fleming’s 1961 novel and adapted from a story by Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory & Jack Whittingham.

The plot revolves around SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), an international crime syndicate, hijacking the NATO plane called Vulcan carrying two atom bombs and demanding a ransom from England and the USA of £100 million or it will destroy in four days a major city in each nation.

Bond goes on assignment to the Bahamas and quickly discovers that SPECTRE’s No. 2 man, the black eye-patch wearing ruthless megalomaniac Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) is the mastermind behind the scheme. To uncover where Largo’s storing the bombs from the missing planes, Bond romances the villain’s well-stacked mistress Domino (Claudine Auger, former Miss France) and must also defend himself from Largo’s henchman Vargas and female assassin Fiona (Luciana Paluzzi). Bond soon discovers the planes are buried in a guarded by sharks undersea cave called by the locals the Golden Grotto. Domino comes fully around to 007’s side when she learns that Largo killed her respected bomber pilot brother, Major Derval, in order to hatch his scheme (substituting the NATO officer with Angelo Palazzi, a SPECTRE pilot who has undergone plastic surgery to look like Derval) and she thereby willingly follows Bond’s instructions and takes a Geiger counter hidden in a camera aboard the baddie’s high-tech hydrofoil yacht, the Disco Volante, to discover that’s where the bombs are hidden.

The action is rife from the pre-credits, where Bond uses a one-man jet pack on his back to escape danger in a puff of smoke. Bond must also outsmart killer sharks in the villain’s shark-infested swimming pool, and in the climax there’s a cleverly choreographed underwater battle between the good guy CIA frogmen and bad guy SPECTRE frogmen in their weapon-carrying sea sleds.

The film was remade in 1983 as Never Say Never Again.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”