Posted by: dougery | January 11, 2011

Better Late Than Never: Thunderball (1965)

Next up is the sometimes brilliant, occasionally silly, and egregiously named Thunderball (1962). It is hard to imagine a film of with this title being green-lit today, even with such mindbogglingly awful things out there like Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever and the Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. I’m not even going to count Mother May I Sleep With Danger? since I think the comedic value of that one alone ‘saves’ it from being purely bad. But Thunderball? Aren’t there plenty enough cool / scary / intimidating nicknames for nuclear weapons out there to choose from? Let’s keep the sexual innuendos where they belong–in the Bond girl’s names and out of the film title.

One caveat for this review, I actually watched the film almost 2 weeks ago, whilst my family had went off to bed (It was 10:30pm on New Year’s Eve ). So please forgive me if my recollection is less than perfect. There has been a flurry of Real World Stuff happening ’round these parts, content for future blog posts no doubt. Yet as they say, back to the show.

I’m not quite sure why every still from this film has Connery sporting an expression which is somewhere between needing very badly to go to the bathroom but being unable to do so and his trademark skeevy leer, but there you have it. Maybe it was his ongoing marital problems at the time, or his problems with paparazzi, or even the time during filming where he was almost mauled by a shark. Oh 1965, how I miss you. Nowadays we’d just CGI the menacing oceanic eating machines but back then, oh yes, the sharks were real and stuntmen scared to death. Yet back to the photo above–yes, that’s a jetpack! Like, as in a Rocketeer-esque scifi trapping! But the greatest thing about it, other than the hilarious official name of ‘rocket-belt’ is that it actually functioned. Remember just a few sentences back when I said there wasn’t any CGI? Well suck it again, Connery / stuntmen, you’re blasting around all over the place for realsies. Apparently the ‘rocket-belt’ had quite a career, even getting some use in a superbowl, after which it no doubt paid a visit to Disneyland (ba-dum-tum *tish*).

Plot-wise, this one’s real simple. Evil mastermind steals a few nukes and holds world (or at least Britain and the U.S.–they’re yet again the only ones who really count) hostage to the tune of one. million. dollars… er, I mean 100 million pounds in uncut diamonds or something. Yeah, Mike Myers retroactively ruins this Bond film too. Although to be fair, the original Austin Powers flick was pretty damn good and only retroactively ruined itself by the sequels and endless number of high school idiots who regrettably absorbed ‘Shag’ and ‘Do I make you horny, baby’ into their working vocabularies. Non sequitorial request: Go back to making movies like So I Married an Ax Murderer, Mike! Another side track, where were we, oh yes, the ‘plot.’

So good old Bond is on the case in the Bahamas after being sent to a health spa for some R & R despite the fact that he doesn’t really seem like he ever needs it since his actual missions contain plenty of the latter R anyhow. Somewhere in the film we find that the world leaders (again, Britain and the US) are actually going to pay this eye-patch wearing numbnuts his demand if Bond doesn’t save the day. It being the Bahamas, there is a near intolerable number of underwater shots that resemble cameras being dragged into a swimming pool even though this only technically happens some of the time, like when terrible henchmen are fed to the pool sharks. I didn’t have as much of a problem with the elaborately choreographed underwater fight scenes (even if they did go on a tad too long) as some reviewers apparently did as it was far too strange a filming decision to be uninteresting. Seriously, men grappling in slow motion trying to kick and punch each other after their barbed spear-gun shots go awry, what’s not to like? And then there is this:

I’m just going to pause for a moment and let that image sink in.

So even with a host of controversy surrounding the filming, production, writing, hell, virtually every aspect of Thunderball, the movie went on to be one of the highest grossing releases of all time. Something on the order of $960 million dollars worldwide, adjusted for inflation of course. The creators aren’t entirely successful waterproofing the movie and keeping all of these distractions out, and anyone with a solid head on their shoulders had to imagine Connery’s tenure as 007 would be coming to an end soon.  Here’s yet another constipated shot of him for further proof.

Most damning of all? No “Bond will return next in Blah-dee-Blah” in the end credits. Gasp, what are we to do?

Bond Grade: 004 (Out of 007)

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Responses

  1. Nice shout-out to So I Married an Ax Murderer, man! But seriously, what’s with the bathing-suit lady!? Grrrrrrr.

  2. damn, sean is looking HOTT (and yes, two T’s are required) there. and i kind of love the swimsuit. it seems like a very forgiving piece of fashion.


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