Thunderball (1965) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

James Bond’s fourth screen adventure is a big beautiful bore. Masterfully shot in the majestic wide-screen format the picture plays like a travelogue for the tropics. In this outing Bond is once again dispatched to the Caribbean to battle SPECTRE agents and retrieve information on the location of a stolen military jet carrying nuclear bombs. OO7 is on the job in the scenic bahamas with not one but two beautiful ‘Bond Girls’ (a first in the series), however unlike the previous film ‘GoldFinger‘ this bloated entry suffers from a lack of excitement. A feeling of monotony hangs over the film to the point that the entire enterprise feels perfunctory.

Longtime series screenwriter Richard Maibaum along with John Hopkins deliver a story loosely based on the incidents of real life British Agent Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb. A few grin inducing moments dot the film as when a beautiful woman in a bath asks Bond for something to put on and he hands her a pair of slippers. The story is weak for a film of this caliber and the gadgetry shoddier than other outings.

However the central problem with the film is the underwater scenes that account for a significant part of the running-time. These sequences are somewhat confusing and the filmmaking techniques are very rudimentary. Although the amount of work that it takes to accomplish these underwater stunts is impressive. It does however bog the film down just when the action should be heating up.

‘Thunderball’ was released at the height of ‘BondMania’ resulting in the highest audience attendance levels of any Bond film before or since in terms of tickets sold and adjusted dollars. Rumored to have once been considered as the inaugural screen appearance of James Bond, until litigation over uncredited script additions held up production for years. The story credited to writer Kevin McClory is noteable for the years of litigation over rights that resulted in a remake 1983’s ‘Never Say Never Again‘.

Director: Terence Young
Stars: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi

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