With 'Quantum of Solace' due to hit our screens soon, we take a daily look back at the 21 official Bond films. Day 4: ‘Thunderball’
Thunderball (1965, Terence Young)Villain: Emile Largo
At stake:The nuking of MiamiCandy: Claudine Auger/Luciana PaluzziGizmo: Jet PackTheme song: ‘Thunderball’ by Tom JonesQuote: 'See you later, irrigator!'
Overlong, repetitive and already starting to feel a little familiar, ‘Thunderball’ is the first of these Bond films to occasion memories of falling asleep in front of the telly after too much Christmas pud.
It starts well enough with James narrowly coming out on top of a bizarre and bruising scrap with a transvestite French spy before making a daring jet-pack escape. It doesn’t take long, however, before the film gets bogged down in an off-the-peg plot about a couple of stolen missiles being used to further SPECTRE’s evil designs on the world.
Often referred to as ‘the underwater one’, the fourth Bond adventure whisks 007 back to the Caribbean in order to locate the sub-aquatic hiding place in which one-dimensional ‘eye-patch baddie’ Emilio Largo has been storing missing warheads. These many underwater sequences are undeniably impressive and initially rather exciting, but ultimately they outstay their welcome. By the time that the overextended and somewhat confusing undersea finale rolls around, you’ll be gasping for air.
Connery is masterful throughout; as assured, trim and cruel as the role demands and delivering his most controlled performance as Bond. John Barry’s grand and portentous score is similarly impressive, but neither Connery nor the music are able to pump life into a dull story that’s executed without any real sense of purpose.
Behind the scenes wrangles would spark years of bitter legal disputes between Fleming and writer/producer Kevin McClory. This protracted feud would eventually gift the world 1983’s non-canonical remake ‘Never Say Never Again’, which co-starred Rowan Atkinson as a character called Nigel Small-Fawcett.
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