Take a Drink: for supervillain bona fides
Take a Drink: for gadgetry
Take a Drink: whenever SPECTRE kills one of their own
Take a Drink: for every woman Bond flirts with
Do a Shot: for every woman (and named foe) he vanquishes
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
As with many of you, I suspect, my memories of the Bond franchise are inextricably linked to childhood TBS marathons, and I remember that Thunderball was my Dad’s favorite.
8 year old me concurred that underwater warfare was the shit.
Thunderball sees Bond tussling with SPECTRE once more after it abducts an aircraft carrying nuclear warheads. Sexy quips, exotic locales, world endangerment, and plenty of under the sea action ensue.
The scuba-enabled action is seriously cool, particularly the protracted, speargun-happy grand melee towards the end. As the Bond films grew ever more successful, Broccoli & Saltzman smartly continued to grow the budget, and you can see the money up on the screen.
Except for the wigs, as Oberst rather childhood-scarringly pointed out to me.
Even the title sequence shows the commitment to escalation. Technology finally allowed them to shoot the iconic opening through a real gun barrel, and for the first time the man in the sights was Bond himself. The title song, “Thunderball” (what did you expect?), isn’t my fave, but it’s distinguished by a final note held so long that Tom Jones actually fainted while holding it.
“Now you now how we feel”- Cougars, everywhere
Connery had aged into his role beautifully at this point, adding a little gravitas to Bond’s suave 60s manliness, and screenwriter Richard Maibaum (along with John Hopkins) finally began to recognize the necessity of subverting the tropes the series had already canonized, particularly the sexism.
And yet… Thunderball still very much followed the Bond template, and the franchise was teetering on the edge of going stale at this point. As I watched Bond interact with the same amount and archetypes of woman, go through similar brushes with fate and villain-delivered exposition, and end up canoodling his lady du jour in a boat awaiting rescue once more, I realized the 007 franchise were the Marvel films of their day. That’s not necessarily an insult, but qualifies as a pretty mixed compliment.
Terence Young was as journeyman a director as they come. While not as steeped in rear projection silliness and awkward angles as Guy Hamilton’s Goldfinger, it’s hard to call the directing particularly technically proficient, and the addition of fast forward to his repertoire does Young no favors.
Oh… oh my.
Thunderball features a cool new setting and some bravura action set pieces, but the Bond plot formula was starting to show some wear and tear.