Summary: The thrills never stop as Agent 007 goes above the call of duty - and to the bottom of the ocean - to track down a villainous criminal who's holding millions hostage and threatening to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust!
Review: Released at the pinnacle of Bond fever, Thunderball is the one of the best and most popular of all the Bond films. With its exotic locals, beautiful women (both bad and good), a sinister villain, casino scenes, fast cars, big explosions and the original Bondian underwater fight, Thunderball was such a success that shortly after its release the Paramount Theater in New York City had to run the film 24 hours a day to meet the demand.
Despite the film's deliberate slow pace, which allows proper plot and character development, there is not a dull moment in the movie. The Shrublands sequence, for example, takes its time, sets up the entire story and allows Bond to be Bond. Additionally, it allows for one of the most suave moments in the series: when Bond stops to eat a grape while escaping from Count Lippe's room. Even the plot, while tired and overused by today's standards, was still a new idea as well as a realistic fear when the movie was released in 1965.
The Bond girls are great; Fiona Volpe is the most memorable villainess in any Bond movie. She is cold hearted, smart and deadly, all while exuding an aura of beauty and sultriness. Even Domino, who is a bit of a one-dimensional character (not a big surprise considering the era the movie was released in), has her shining moments and proves herself to be stronger than she appears by eventually killing Largo.
Emilio Largo often gets a bad rap as being too "soft" to be a truly memorable villain, which is a statement I wholeheartedly disagree with. The scene between him and Bond in the casino in Nassau is brilliant, with these two strong men in a public battle of whit, each fully knowing who the other is. I also love the cruelty Largo's ordering Quist thrown into the shark tank. So, while in reality Largo is just another henchman for Blofeld, I still like him better than other classic villains including Goldfinger and Dr. No.
As I mentioned earlier, Thunderball also features the original Bondian underwater battle. Between the backdrop of the crystal blue Caribbean waters and the pure scale of two armies fighting underwater, Thunderball truly proves that no one does it better.
All of these plusses, combined with the lore of SPECTRE, John Barry's magnificent score, breathtaking sets and locations and John Glenn's brilliant directing, catapult Thunderball way up my favorite Bond movie list. As such, I give it a...
Universal Exports Rating: 007