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Thunderball is the best James Bond movie

Released at the pinnacle of Bond fever, Thunderball is the one of the best and most popular of all the Bond films.

It’s a perfect mix of exotic locals, beautiful women (both bad and good), a sinister villain, casino scenes, fast cars, big explosions and the original Bondian underwater fight. In fact, 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 Girls & Villains 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. Plus, Domino is in the top 5 of most beautiful Bond girls.

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.

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An Epic Underwater Battle

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. 

Italian James Bond poster


First Bond movie filmed in Cinemascope 

First time Sean Connery performs the gun barrel sequence

First time all the 00 Agents are seen together

First time Q equips Bond in the field 

First time Bond is shot

First time a villain has sharks

First film to utilize an underwater camera 

First time Bond is aided by the US Coast Guard


Disco Volante means Flying Saucer which was the name of Largo’s boat in Never Say Never Again.

In order to accommodate crowds after the movie’s release, New York’s Paramount Theatre ran the film 24 hours a day.

When Bond is shot in the leg, a dog can be seen urinating in the background.

When Tom Jones recorded the theme he fainted from lack of oxygen at the end of the song after sustaining the same intense high pitched note.

The underwater sequences were practiced in a parking lot in the Bahamas. 



UnivEx Rating:

December 29, 1965

Bond Actor:
Sean Connery

Terrence Young


$5.6 Million

Worldwide Boxoffice:
$141.2 Million

Running Time:
129 Minutes

Bond’s Kill Count:

Bond’s Conquest Count:


Emilio Largo


The theft of nuclear warheads and blackmail of NATO

Vargas, Janni, Fiona Volpe

Nurse Fearing, Fiona Volpe, Domino

Felix Leiter, Pinder, Paula Caplan