Sunday, December 03, 2006


1965, UK, directed by Terence Young

Though it was a massive financial success -- out-grossing, in raw dollars, entries that came years later despite ticket inflation -- Thunderball is an undeniable disappointment given the standards set by the first three films. It's the first Bond movie to break the two-hour bar, and the padding shows particularly in the lengthy, unexciting underwater fight sequences (which are sometimes laughable; director Terence Young was apparently unenthusiastic about the underwater fights, and it's a pity he didn't stand his ground).

The series also shows the first signs of slipping into self-parody, especially in the guise of Adolfo Celi's SPECTRE No.2, while the quota of throwaway one-liners is significantly higher. Sean Connery is absolutely at ease as Bond here, with the character now clearly moving more towards the smooth than the brutal end of the spectrum; he spends a tremendous amount of time in beach-wear chasing women notwithstanding the imminent destruction of a major city, but also finds time to win at cards. The sequences which outline the SPECTRE plot to steal nuclear devices, remain gripping (the scenes on board a NATO plane are especially good), while the SPECTRE board meeting is also enjoyably dry, but overall the extended running time undercuts those early highlights.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States