Movie Review: THUNDERBALL (1965) 4th James Bond Movie

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Directed by Terence Young
Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celii, Luciana Paluzzi and Bernard Lee.
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes


M sends Bond to a health spa to improve his health. SPECTRE has come up with a plan to steal two nuclear warheads and hold the world as hostage. M sends Bond to the Bahamas where Bond plays cat and mouse with SPECTRE’s no. 2, Emilio Largo that climaxes in a big underwater battle.


With a bigger budget and longer running time than the last films and a great theme song by Tom Jones, Thunderball tells us that it is going to be big and exciting. Filmed in the beautiful Bahamas with a lot of underwater sequences and a lot of sharks, which appear a lot in future films after Thunderball. Supposedly Connery was almost attacked by a shark on set.

Connery is great as the 60’s hero. He seems more confidant in this film. Claudine Auger as Domino is my favorite Bond girl in the series. I’m not the only one. I’ve had intense talks with friends where we agree that she is the best. She is, sweet, knowing, adventurous and proves she can fend for herself by the end. What can I say, she is just absolutely beautiful.

There is a lot a stake for Bond survival wise, but not as much emotional stakes as the previous two films. Though I like how matter of fact Bond is with Domino when he tells her that her brother is dead. He exploits her to get close to Largo to find out where Largo plans to detonate the warheads. He does what he has to do for the world. Does he have to sleep with Domino before he tells her? Probably not. But the movie suggests he does it because he likes her and wants to keep Domino close. It works and Domino tells Bond where Largo is going to be with his men before they go get the warheads Largo has hidden. Bond disguises himself and finds out that Largo is going to hit Miami. Bond gets the information to Felix Leiter, his good friend, and the Americans come in to intercept Largo and his men underwater in one of the only and very exciting underwater battles scenes. Sometimes it is hard to tell what’s going on, but it doesn’t take away from the excitement.

As the film ends, Bond and Domino strap up to a long line and send a balloon in the sky to lift the line up and a plane goes by and catches them and takes them for a ride. This is one of the James Bond stunts that is pretty ludicrous, because it takes all shred of believability out of the film and where did this plane come from. Most people I’ve watched this film with all give a “what the @#$%!! when they see that stunt. It goes to show that in an over the top action film some things still don’t make sense.

Apart from that I still love Thunderball with the great SPECTRE meeting with all the agents around the world and No. 1, soon to be know as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, with his controls to kill anyone in their chairs that screw up. The eye-patched Largo is great, and the first real beautiful femme fatale, Fiona Volpe, is seductive and dangerous, even to watch as an audience member. Largo’s pool of sharks proves an intense and exciting scene. And Bond flies a crazy jet pack.

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