Bond In Review: Thunderball Part One

After “Goldfinger” was a massive hit, EON-the production company that makes the film-had a lot more money back then ($2.5 million extra) to play with…and there’s a bit of a difference right away.

It’s the first Bond film to really go “wide” with 2:35:1 aspect ratio. This also meant that the film would have to reshoot the gunbarrel, which they did with Sean Connery properly in it instead of stuntman Bob Simmons. The smaller ratio would return for the first two Roger Moore films, but would pretty much return to the wider ratio for the rest of the series.

In the opener, Bond is at the funeral for Jacques Bouviar, a SPECTRE leader who has been killed-but not before killing two of Bond’s colleagues (Possibly other 00s).  He’s accompanied by French agent Madame La Parte, who he briefly flirts with-until he notices something extremely unusual about Jacques’s widow-that she opens the car door herself (Hey, it was the 60s!)

 

Following the “widow” back to her mansion, offering his “sincere condolences” with a punch to the face, revealing that the widow is in fact the “dead” colonel, who faked his death and is dressed in drag to fool Bond. What follows is a very, very high speed and chaotic fight (OHMSS would use a lot of similar “sped up” edits later on, perhaps due to the influence of editor-turned-director Peter Hunt). Until Bond is able to strangle him with a poker-but not before getting struck a few times himself.

 

After getting rid of Bouvier, Bond hurries to escape his men- and dons a conveinently placed jetpack to make his escape.

The jetpack of course became one of the iconic Bond gadgets, despite only a brief appearence in this film. Another, somewhat less cool looking one (but without the helmet) would appear in Never Say Never Again (The Thunderball remake/readaptation) in a highly different context, once again piloted by Sean:

…and Bond would later mess around with this very same jetpack in “Die Another Day”, alongside the poison knife shoe and the Octopussy alligator sub.

 

After a safe landing, Bond gets into his classic DB5, which uses it’s bullet shields and aptly, water jets, to evade further pursuit.

The jets turn on the camera, and then segue to the title sequence. In keeping with the underwater settings of the later film, there’s a lot of women-and some divers with harpoons-swimming around the multicolored water. Tom Jones is a bit different in his approach, but the song is a lot more exciting than the previous male-sung Bond song, “From Russia With Love”.

The film also has a secondary song that was rejected for the title, but is still prominent in the music score instrumentally many times-Dionne Warwick’s “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”.  Both songs are pretty much about Bond himself, and his certain set of skills. The practice of a secondary or rejected song being the source for much of the instrumental score is something we see in later Bonds- Both “Pretenders” songs in The Living Daylights are used for the romance and action much more than the main title; and of course there’s Tommorow Never Dies “Surrender”, whereas Sheryl Crow’s main title tune really isn’t in the film at all….

We then are introduced once again to SPECTRE, who is joined by their “Number two”, Emilio Largo. Of course No.1-Blofeld-is back, but like in FWRL we don’t see his face, only his cat. His voice is also notably different, less of an accent but with what seems like some form of distortion effect. This seems to be the only moment Blofeld is really seen deliberately covering his face in the series (Although it’s possible his different appearences in the three films he appears in later are the result of heavy plastic surgery, as “Diamonds Are Forever” implies.) The meeting room also has a cover operation-The International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons. Somehow I think that they’re not really helping refugees here…

Blofeld gets some updates on the various criminal organizations, but he’s displeased with two of the operatives, who he feels are keeping the money for themselves. One guy seems particuarly nervous, the other seems very cocky. The cocky guy gets made an example of  via electric chair. This scene was actually parodied in the first “Austin Powers” with Will Ferrell’s character (and of course No.2 was based on Largo).

 

Largo’s reaction is just to coldly look over, offer no expression and then go back to his papers. Which is kind of funny, considering he’s probably one of the more emotional Bond villains in the series-at least in regards to his anger.

One special note about Largo…although the eyepatch Big Boss wears in the Metal Gear series is probably closely related to Snake Plissken from “Escape from New York”, I wonder if perhaps there’s some relationship to Bond as well. When the character first appears in the MSX game, he was pretty much a nuke-hoarding villain in the series (before the prequel games revealed another side to him) like Largo here.

 

Although certainly his original look in MG2 looks awfully familiar to this film’s star:

 

Getting back on topic, Largo’s got an ambitious plan for Blofeld-to hold the world at ransom-specifically-the North Atlantic Treaty Powers. His agent in this is Count Lippe-who of course, is pretty much at the exact same place Bond is, and like Largo and Fiona Volpe later on, lets Bond in to something suspicious-in this case a Tong symbol. Nice one, Lippe. If Bond hadn’t noticed the symbol he wouldn’t figure something was up at this health clinic….

 

Next: Bond gets some ‘excercise’ at the health clinic as SPECTRE creates a double to steal nukes.

 

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