a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, Thunderball (1965), starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger and Adolpho Celi.
Per IMDb: “James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.”
Emilio Largo (Celi), #2 in the nefarious organization called SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), creates an elaborate plan to have a flight-trained double agent have plastic surgery to imitate a French pilot named François Derval (whom they kill), who hijacks a test flight, killing the rest of the crew and delivering two atomic bombs. SPECTRE then uses the bombs as ransom for $100M (and yes, I typed it like Dr. Evil and you know you just said it like him, pinky to the corner of your mouth and everything) from the world governments or else the organization will destroy a major US city.
Secret Agent, James Bond (Connery) just so happens to be at the same health spa as the plotters of this elaborate scheme and gets in a tangle with one of them; a little back and forth between between snarky superspy and lackey villain. He stumbles through the plot and when all the “00” agents are brought in for a meeting, Bond recognizes someone from the spa. He asks to be redirected to the Bahamas to investigate. He goes and meets Domino (Auger), the sister of the pilot who was killed, Derval. Domino’s guardian, whom she calls her “uncle,” is none other than Largo.
Bond tries to keep Domino in the dark about what he knows, but at the same time becoming involved with her and investigating Largo at the same time. Largo even invites Bond to his house to entertain him and show him around, for lunch. Bond of course accepts the invitation and visits, but, not before he is caught trying to investigate the Disco Valante which is the large yacht owned by Largo. What did he find? What did he uncover? Did he get the girl? Of course, you’ll have to watch the film to see.
This is the fourth of the James Bond series. I have the entire series at least up until Skyfall on the 50th anniversary Blu-Ray Disc set that came out in 2012. I have had the pleasure of introducing my boy, 3B, to the world of James Bond. We watched the entire “Austin Powers” series and he liked that, so I wanted to show him where the inspiration came from. Frau Verbissener is a direct parody of Klebb from From Russia with Love and #2 from “Powers” (eye patch and all) is a direct parody of Largo. Of course, Dr. Evil is Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
In this film we are starting to get a real glimpse of the gadgetry that the Bond series became known for. There were hints in the first film, we are introduced to Q in the second and third, but this is where they ramped it up. A jetpack, Geiger counter watch and the now-famous Aston Martin DB5 which first arrived in Goldfinger, equipped with gadgets of its own, are just the beginning. The plots were very “Cold War” back then. And, the cinematography, as cheesy as it is now, was quite apt at the time. Green screen work, or just forefront work, in general was very noticeable. 3B is used to really good special effects, which these effects were great, they’re just dated. Those kinds of effects were in their infancy at that time and while it was continuously growing, it wasn’t until the mid 80s that it really took off. It all looked over-the-top fake, to me.
I think with the exception of Klebb in Russia there’s a rule that Bond has to have a pretty woman (good or bad) and the whole film is full of them. As is always the case when they’re using Italian and other foreign actors the have to use voice artists for the screen actors to lose a good bit of their native accents. This had a lot of out-of-sync spots of that. But, overall it was one of the best of the early Bond films, to be sure. I like it a good bit, I’m just a Bond fan. The scenery, the lavish sets, the locations. The sharks (minus the frickin’ laser beams). It’s all part of the Bond charm. And, the fact that I get to introduce to, watch with and experience with The Boy, then that’s just bonus. Oh, and let’s not forget the awesome theme song sung by the great Tom Jones. Listen closely to the end of the title song and you’ll hear Mr. Jones warble and fade out. In reality, he passed out in the studio from holding that note so long at that pitch. He did it right on the take, but passed out. They left that in there. I think that’s cool trivia.
Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 86% Fresh with an Audience Score of 73%. IMDb has it at 7 out of 10 stars. You can only watch it on disc right now, so you can order it from DVD.com, Netflix‘s disc service, if you’d like to see it. Again, I have the whole collection on Blu-Ray so that’s how I saw it. I rate it 4.25 stars out of 5. Have you seen it? What would you like to read/hear me review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.” – Bond