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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

I really should watch Thunderball again. I saw a few minutes of it when it turned up on TV the other day - the climactic battle was just beginning and in HD it looked just stunning.

My problem with the film has always tended to be that some changes from the book, unlike with Goldfinger, were for the worse. Fleming's Bond thinks his assignment in Miami is a waste of time which takes him away from where the real action is likely to be, whereas movie Bond has M change his assignment *to* Miami - the start of a process over the years of Bond becoming an all-knowing superman. One of the pleasures of the novel is Bond being only half-aware for most of the narrative that huge events are taking place right under his nose. That having been said I'm not sure that it would have been entirely possible to express this on film.

Also, it's a shame that the producer's didn't go with the original 'Mr Kiss-Kiss, Bang-Bang' theme song - was this Harry Saltzman's notorious tin ear for a good song striking again?

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

I think you mean the Bahamas unless the novel suggests otherwise.

Concur with Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it was as good as Nobody Does It Better in terms of being a signature Bond intro.

a reasonable rate of return

253

Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

IanFryer wrote:

Also, it's a shame that the producer's didn't go with the original 'Mr Kiss-Kiss, Bang-Bang' theme song - was this Harry Saltzman's notorious tin ear for a good song striking again?

Not in this case- UA wanted a song actually called "Thunderball" for cross-promotion purposes- every time it was heard on the radio, it would advertise the film. This was a late decision, by which point Barry had (a) used the melody of MKKBB as the basis for much of his score and (b) recorded two vocal versions, one by Shirley Bassey and one by Dionne Warwick.

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

Dirty Punker wrote:

I think you mean the Bahamas unless the novel suggests otherwise.

Concur with Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it was as good as Nobody Does It Better in terms of being a signature Bond intro.

Sorry, you're right. I was getting mixed up with Goldfinger!

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

Barbel wrote:
IanFryer wrote:

Also, it's a shame that the producer's didn't go with the original 'Mr Kiss-Kiss, Bang-Bang' theme song - was this Harry Saltzman's notorious tin ear for a good song striking again?

Not in this case- UA wanted a song actually called "Thunderball" for cross-promotion purposes- every time it was heard on the radio, it would advertise the film. This was a late decision, by which point Barry had (a) used the melody of MKKBB as the basis for much of his score and (b) recorded two vocal versions, one by Shirley Bassey and one by Dionne Warwick.

Thank you, that's really interesting. The Dionne Warwick version gets my vote.

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

You're welcome!  ajb007/smile

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

https://s1.postimg.cc/kulvuo75n/20170731_220721.jpg

In the process of moving and almost forgot this baby. My seventh grade teacher of all people gave it to me.
ajb007/martini

1. Connery 2. Moore 3. Dalton 4. Brosnan 5. Craig 6. Lazenby

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

Now I can't stop humming mkkbb!  My drive to work tomorrow will now be to a John Barry soundtrack.

It was either that.....or the priesthood

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

Chriscoop wrote:

Now I can't stop humming mkkbb!  My drive to work tomorrow will now be to a John Barry soundtrack.

I'll fix that for ya; try humming a piano.
Impossible.

a reasonable rate of return

260

Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

IanFryer wrote:

I really should watch Thunderball again. I saw a few minutes of it when it turned up on TV the other day - the climactic battle was just beginning and in HD it looked just stunning.

My problem with the film has always tended to be that some changes from the book, unlike with Goldfinger, were for the worse. Fleming's Bond thinks his assignment in Miami is a waste of time which takes him away from where the real action is likely to be, whereas movie Bond has M change his assignment *to* Miami - the start of a process over the years of Bond becoming an all-knowing superman. One of the pleasures of the novel is Bond being only half-aware for most of the narrative that huge events are taking place right under his nose. That having been said I'm not sure that it would have been entirely possible to express this on film.

Also, it's a shame that the producer's didn't go with the original 'Mr Kiss-Kiss, Bang-Bang' theme song - was this Harry Saltzman's notorious tin ear for a good song striking again?

Other than a bit of dodgy editing and dubbing Thunderball is all pros for me.  Some say the whole shrublands thing is too slow and the underwater scenes too long but I love them. It sets tb apart.  At Shrublands we get to spend some time with connery at his nonchalant best. We have spectacular locations,  great action,  beautiful girls,  an interesting henchman " what does vargas do?  " a great villain,  awesome score and the true emergence of q.  We also get a look at all the other 00's..... I love this film.

It was either that.....or the priesthood

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

I really don't mind Vargas, partly because I always liked the actor who played him. Admittedly Philip Locke doesn't look especially like a Vargas, but I'll let him off.

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

About the dodgy editing, it seems that in each and every one of the early films, there was a transition that was used for most of the length of the movie.
Thunderball has the wiping effect, Goldfinger has the fade effect and I need to rewatch Dr NO and From Russia... With Love to find out which ones were theirs.

a reasonable rate of return

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

Why dose Fiona save bond when he leaves the clinic?
Why dose she need him alive?

By the way' the name is  "James St. John smythe"  I'm English

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

She isn't saving Bond- she's been ordered to kill Lippe, and Bond just happens to be there.

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

PROS
- Ken Adam: the SPECTRE boardroom, the MI6 emergency meeting room, the hotel rooms, the Disco Valante, Palmyra
- Palmyra, Palmyra, Palmyra ... damn!, Largo has a nice villain's headquarters. This is obviously a real place, has anybody ever visited it?

- Barry: so much good music it overflowed the original soundtrack lp, with approx 30 minutes of leftovers released on cd decades later.
- The underwater motif that dominates much of the film makes some otherwise long boring scenes come across as absolutely epic and adds to the whole countdown-to-doomsday vibe.

- Binder: this is his first classic title sequence (Dr No was quite different) and it's all silhouettes cut into a background of everchanging underwater imagery.

- The SPECTRE boardroom scene. So much is done right in this one scene, it alone is worth the price of admission.

- Fiona Volpe. The scene where she first meets Bond is unnecessary to the plot, but lots of fun. All her dialog with Bond is classic.
- Note, she has moved right into Paula's room immediately after having her kidnapped, the brazen hussy! She's not in Bond's bath, she's in Paula's bath, they had those adjoining rooms.

- Domino wears a lot of sexy and unusual swimsuits, especially that first one with the translucent diagonal "window" ... you gotta pay attention to the fine details in this scene!

Spoilerpsst! What you're looking for is bottom cleavage on the starboard side

- I finally realised Bond never does return to the parade to meet Domino, so it's not such an issue how many hours he left her with Felix while he attended to other matters. Still, I wonder what Domino and Felix ended up talking about?
- Bond and Domino consummate their relationship underwater rather than in the men's change room. That was never a very classy detail on Fleming's part.

- Despite the underwater scenes going on so long without dialog, all the techno-thriller stuff is played straight and very ominous.
- Lots of great looking machinery getting fetishized by the camera here, Fleming would have approved.

- For once, Leiter is sandy-haired if not Texan.
- First Q in the field.
- Bond has his own sexy assistant, who shares an adjoining room and is OK with him picking up the villain's mistress right in front of her (she shrugs!)
(and Martine Beswick is a returning actress: she was one of the gypsy girls in FRWL, nice to see her get a bigger part with actual dialog).
- Bond actually has his own headquarters for this job, even if it's not up to the standard of Palmyra.

- Underwater sealife. Fleming didn't get his beloved landcrabs, giant squid, bird sanctuary or even the centipede in Dr No. But in this film, Domino is introduced riding a giant sea tortoise! and that final underwater battle features lots of critters watching the action, weird crabs, octopi and of course all those sharks.                                                   

- Loads of classic dialog
- So many iconic scenes that got repeated in future films: the technothriller countdown to doomsday in all three Gilbert films, the underwater scenes in tSWLM and FYEO, the sexy assistant and parade in MR, all of Xenia Onatopp's early scenes in Goldeneye, and of course major chunks of SPECTRE. Somehow even earlier films had scenes borrowed from this film (introduction of Leiter in Dr No, introduction of SPECTRE in FRWL)
- Even nonBond films have recycled these iconic scenes, like Dr Evil trying to feed a minion to sharks in the middle of a meeting in International Man of Mystery, and Elastigirl's new employers having their offices on the world's largest hydrofoil in Incredibles 2.


CONS
- McClory! (boo, hiss). It's his fault Fleming had that final heart attack, and by proving so difficult to work with, EON decided not to collaborate with Feldman, meaning it's also kinda McClory's fault we got the "funny" version of Casino Royale.

- Conspicuous pacing and structural problems the first three films did not have. Was this somehow McClory's fault too? Maibaum and Young and Hunt are all credited here, and they didn't waste so much time telling the story in the earlier films, those films were tight.

- Neither vocal take of Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is used in the film.

- The pre-credits sequence. nothing to do with Fleming so fars I can tell. Features a villain in drag, setting bad precedent for Diamonds are Forever. This gangland funeral/grieving widow scene is one that the much maligned SPECTRE actually did improve on!
- The jetpack. Worst gadget ever. and then it overshadows the reappearance of the Aston.
- The transition from precredits to credits is uncharacteristically anticlimactic after the pathetic jetpack and underwhelming use of the Aston.

- Shrublands, takes up almost a third of the film. I don't like this section in Fleming's book either, nor in Never Say Never Again. The only connection it has with the rest of the film is the convoluted substitution for Domino's brother, which is not needed to make the plot work.
- Bond spends too much time playing the fool, especially in Shrublands and when talking to Q.

- Just how much time did Bond spend at Palmyra and with Volpe after he left Domino with Leiter at the parade? Seems like so many different things happen days should have gone by.

- Why does Bond not use an alias when he meets Largo? He knows Largo is with SPECTRE, and not only did SPECTRE specifically target James Bond for assassination two films earlier, they even sent that card from Tatiana to his employer's address!

- When Largo harpoons the shark at the end, that's real isnt it?

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

How funny is this... ajb007/lol


https://i.postimg.cc/Why5WnwB/EDA3258-C-F4-A5-4977-A1-B8-B5601126644-A.jpg

The name is Walker by the way.

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Re: Pros and Cons: Thunderball

Pros:

A straightforward, honest-to-God, high-stakes mission. Operation Thunderball. No personal angle to Bond's motivation.

What makes Bond tick. It's classically more 'Bondian' for 007 to put the mission first, perhaps using another character's weakness or personal grievance, than to be motivated by personal reasons himself. In TB, Bond exploits Domino's desire for revenge, after explaining to her that Largo was behind the death of her brother: he needs Domino's co-operation to help defeat the enemy, and he obtains this by the necessary means.

It's true that in DN Bond makes a passing reference to wanting to avenge Strangways - and that in GF he needs to rein in personal feelings about Jill's murder before getting on "coldly and objectively" with his assignment - but Bond's default mode, until OHMSS, is fundamentally detached and mission-focused, despite his sensuality, the opportunities he takes for sexual gratification, and his fleeting moments of sadness over the deaths of allies. Sean Connery's performance reflects this dispassionate approach. By contrast, in recent Bond movies, Bond is more likely than not to have some key complicating personal involvement in the plot (or, if not Bond, it's M who has this, as in TWINE; or the villain, as in SF and SP). Going beyond simply making love to the latest heroine, the recent Bond's knotted personal stake-holding eventually becomes tiresome, making purist fans like me nostalgic for the days of straightforward missions and passing fancies. For example, SP's reworking of TB's SPECTRE board meeting has an initially traditional tone which is then spoiled by Christoph Waltz's enigmatic line "Cuckoo!" alluding to his back-story as Franz Oberhauser with "James". Connery's Bond just wouldn't have cared about the soapy elements of the recent movies, partly because he's never given a personal history himself. He remains "Mister Bond."

None of which is to say that there aren't interesting interpersonal dynamics in TB. All interactions involving Fiona Volpe are compelling. Fiona is a user, too, but with a sadistic twist. Her scenes bring to the film a heady concoction of cruelty, duplicity and sexual manipulation; a deadly clash between erotically charged assertions of one-up(wo)manship. Fiona exemplifies the murderous ruthlessness of the original SPECTRE, at least as much as Number One and Largo. In TB, the direction, writing and performances are at their best in Fiona's scenes, and the audience misses her after her death. The same is true of Fiona's successor Fatima Blush in Kevin McClory's TB re-make, NSNA; Fatima's sexual neuroses are more to the fore, and NSNA loses its steam altogether after her explosive exit, limping its way in so-so fashion towards the denouement.

In TB, Fiona's challenge becomes self-reflexive at the point that she goads Connery's 007 about his reputation as "Bond, James Bond," snarkily deriding the man she has just slept with as an egotist who uses his sexual charisma to win over bad girls to the side of right and virtue: "but not this one!" As a SPECTRE operative, Fiona would conceivably know about Tania falling for Bond in FRWL, but Tania was never really a bad girl in the first place. Fiona's point refers us more to Pussy Galore's conversion in GF -  but how would Fiona know about this, given that SPECTRE had no apparent involvement in Operation Grand Slam? It's almost as if Fiona shares with the audience a common cultural knowledge of Bond films and their sexual politics, expressing a knowing self-reflexivity which would become increasingly important to the films as part of the entertainment (witness DAF and NSNA).

TB boasts brilliant talent on the production side, with Terence Young, Ted Moore, Ken Adam, John Barry, Richard Maibaum, Peter Hunt and Bob Simmons among the returning regulars. Much of the creative chemistry which had made Bond a success in the earlier films is well at work again here.

Director Terence Young brings back to the series some of his distinctive edginess, which was missing in Guy Hamilton's relatively relaxed GF. Admittedly Young's style is rather 'watered down' in TB,  if not 'flooded out', by the increased emphasis on spectacle, hardware and gadgetry ("...and the kitchen sink!") but Young's direction of the SPECTRE board meeting is one memorable example of his dark sensibility at play, keyed into Fleming, and indeed many highlights of the movie convey his deliciously callous sense of humour as director, such as Vargas 'getting the point' or Fiona needing to sit out a dance because "she's just dead."

After SPECTRE's absence from GF, its return in TB is welcome, helping to connect the film with Young's earlier Bonds. DN's
Joseph Wiseman plays Blofeld, his face concealed, and Eric Pohlmann returns to voice the character, as he did in FRWL. TB represents the point at which SPECTRE announces itself as a major threat to the western world, a returning adversary with enlarged criminal ambition; though in the novel, of course, this was SPECTRE's debut outing. With the exception of McClory's rogue NSNA, TB is the last Bond film to limit Blofeld's role to a sinister background presence rather than billing him as the movie's principal villain. (I'm ignoring the pre-credits sequence of FYEO. NTTD might reinstall Waltz's Blofeld in the background with a cameo appearance; this remains to be seen.)

Sean Connery performs the opening gunbarrel for TB, replacing Bob Simmons who had doubled for him in the gunbarrel used in DN, FRWL and GF. Connery's pose as he shoots is the epitome of stylised cool, left knee slightly bent, right foot angled back and left hand extended in a slightly fey attitude. Even his involuntary sway as he tries to hold the pose passes into the trademark, and this mod version remains good for Eon's later Connery Bonds, YOLT and DAF. 'Mods vs. rockers' was very much part of the pop cultural landscape in the mid 60s: if Connery at any level qualifies as a mod,  Largo's and Fiona's lackeys would be the rockers - middle-aged men with quiffs, as Mark O'Connell rightly describes them in his book 'Chasing Bullets'. As a leather-clad biker assassin, Fiona would be the rocker-in-chief. See you later, alligator!

TB has an exciting, pop-art credits sequence. Titles designer Maurice Binder returns to the fold, matching Robert Brownjohn's previous work for the series with his own erotic, visual style; John Barry is firing on all cylinders, Tom Jones is at the top of his game vocally and Don Black's lyrics introduce a weird bromance dynamic to the title song. Beyond the credits, the film has a rich visual design, and a glorious colour palette for the sequences in The Bahamas.

Musically, Barry's incidental cues draw from two songs, the unused 'Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' and the main title 'Thunderball', enriching the score and setting a precedent for soundtracks of later films which also draw from two new themes ('On Her Majesty's Secret' and 'We Have All The Time In The World'; 'The Living Daylights' and 'If There Was A Man'; 'The World Is Not Enough' and 'Only Myself To Blame'). 'Thunderball' is the better of the two songs here, despite being a late replacement, but Barry's incidental arrangements and orchestrations of 'Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' are vital to the film's score, amplifying the romance of Nassau and exotic thrills and spills at Club Kiss Kiss on the night of the junkanoo. Barry's re-working of his '007' theme from FRWL and (of course) DN's 'The James Bond Theme' are also part of TB's musical DNA.

Molly Peters, Martine Beswick and Lois Maxwell support Luciana Paluzzi and Claudine Auger in making TB a sexy Bond film, 60s style. Nikki van der Zyl, this time dubbing Claudine Auger, continues to suffuse the series with her subliminally recognisable, sublimely silky voice: the voice of the 60s Bond girl.


Cons:

Inconsistent pace. The land-bound and surface-level action benefits from fast editing, whereas the underwater scenes (quite ground-breaking at the time) sometimes feel sluggish, slowing down the film. The climactic underwater battle is an exception: it's impressively epic, quirky and nasty, by turns.

Problems with TB's pace are compounded when the film is shown on commercial television. I remember a UK broadcast on Saturday evening on ITV in the 70s: it may have been only the second outing for TB on the network, still at a time when Bond on TV was very much appointment viewing. On that occasion ITV bridged each of the frequent ad breaks, either side, by the iconic gunbarrel walk, without music but with the gunshot. Thrilled though I was to be seeing the gunbarrel multiple times, I also remember feeling disappointed by its association with ad breaks, interrupting a film which at times seems to slow up anyway.

Sean Connery occasionally looks weighed down by all the hardware and by the Bond formula itself, the beginnings of a tiredness which became even more of an issue in YOLT.

The initial round of dialogue between Bond and Domino is sub-adolescent, so lame it's unintentionally funny. Domino: "Your name's James Bond and you've been admiring my form?" Bond: "Mmmmmmm ... !" (That salacious "Mmmmmmm!" was a signature of Connery's 60s performances as Bond - Lazenby tried to copy it.)

Some of the editing is crude, as if struggling to sustain continuity and to keep the story going in a workable time-frame amidst all the spectacle. There's also some iffy back projection and some sped-up footage which draws attention to itself and doesn't add value. The use of transitions which wipe across the screen brings to my mind now the 'Star Wars' prequels, an unfortunate association.

The legal conflict over accrediting authorship of TB's source novel affects the film's 'authorship' insofar as Kevin McClory was entitled to share a credit as producer and make the film. Whether this was a factor or not, TB ends up feeling less coherent in terms of collaborative auteurism than had FRWL, DN or GF - in spite of Young's presence and Eon's regular roll call of production talent. Exposition of the legally contested plot is also shovelled through the film incrementally in a sometimes rather clunky way.

Adolfo Celi's Largo looks a little too hammy, even for a 60s Bond baddie, but he certainly has sadistic moments: he's a post-war villain with roots as much in WW2 stereotypes as in the Sicilian mafia. Robert Rietty's voicing of the character lends menace. But I generally prefer Klaus Maria Brandauer's very different 80s iteration of Largo in NSNA, as a techy, charming psychotic.

In TB's final act, the film's alternation between scenes set above surface and the underwater sequences limits the part played by dialogue in the unfolding of the narrative. Below surface the story is told through visual choreography, sound effects and music. SPECTRE's operation is finally defeated in the epic underwater battle. When Largo escapes and boards the Disco Volante his first, functional line, "Weigh anchor!" has to say it all, somehow telegraphing the abject misery and frustration of defeat after several minutes with no dialogue in the film. The last time Largo himself had spoken, his plans were still well on track. And it's a shame that Celi's rubber frog suit is none too flattering, given the actor's middle-aged rotundity.

Rik Van Nutter is an eminently forgettable Felix Leiter.

Vargas never kills anyone, and in that sense he disappoints. Largo has built up Vargas, insinuating how he gets his kicks, and Philip Locke gives a suitably sinister performance. Yet this creepy henchman doesn't score a hit - probably because, if he did, the effect in dramatic terms would be to steal the thunder from the more important Fiona. After the captured Paula has taken a cyanide pill, Vargas protests, "*I* didn't kill her!" This, sort of, sums up his ineffectual villainy. (Largo wanted Paula kept alive.) Vargas remains memorable mainly for his own death scene.

George Pravda's atomic scientist Kutze is no more than a plot device, despite the significance of his change of allegiance and his brief apology echoing what had become recognisable as the standard defence of real-life war criminals ("I only did what I had to do; what I was told to do!") He's such a peripheral caricature that now he usually just gets laughs. @AugustWalker: lol!


Overall: classic Bond, if flawed; big, widescreen spectacle in the mid-60s heyday of Bondomania.

Last edited by Shady Tree (Today 13:46)