starring Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi, Luciana Paluzzi
screenplay by Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins,
based on the novel by Ian Fleming
directed by Terence Young
by Ian Pugh Thunderball is far from the worst Bond film--you'd be hard-pressed to even label it outright bad--but it may be the entry in this venerated series most worthy of contempt for its concerted, ultimately successful effort to formulize its hero's adventures. After the grim uncertainty of From Russia with Love and the classic iconography of Goldfinger, Thunderball is more than content to let a suddenly-enormous budget ($9M compared to Goldfinger's $3M) carry it far, far over-the-top with ludicrous underwater battles and pieces of gadgetry that become full-blown set-pieces in and of themselves. (That jet-pack sequence must have been astonishing in 1965, but it comes from a different cinematic world entirely--and, maddeningly, the filmmakers bend over backwards to accommodate it.) It's not too difficult to understand such a lopsided reliance on special effects, however, considering that Thunderball's premise is far too slim to accommodate its bloated 130-minute running time: SPECTRE hijacks a NATO bomber jet and threatens to detonate its nuclear warheads in a major city in America or Great Britain unless both governments pay a hefty ransom. Heading the operation is Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), a sinister something-or-other calling the shots out of the Bahamas. Bond travels to Nassau to contact "Domino" Derval (Claudine Auger), Largo's mistress and sister of the missing jet's pilot, and persuades her to help.