Best Bond Movies #1: Thunderball

Thunderball is to James Bond like Empire Strikes Back is to Star Wars. Released in 1965, it is the 4th Bond film. After the success of the first three Bond movies exceeded expectations, they decided to nut up and make the 4th one even more epic. Many will be surprised that Thunderball is at the top of my Bond movie list. Therefore, I feel I must invest some time in explaining why.

SPECIAL EFFECTS

I once tried to get my kids to watch Thunderball. My daughter couldn’t get past the 1960s fashions enough to watch the movie. She kept exclaiming “OH MY GOSH!” the whole time and could not pay attention to the plot. This is perfectly understandable considering the fact she was a 13 YEAR OLD GIRL!

Can you imagine after watching the Andy Griffith Show moseying on over the movie theater where KAPOW! You see all-leather Luciana Paluzzi, in full color, saving James Bond’s ass with her grenade launching motorcycle!??

Those of us who aren’t little girls should  have a little more appreciation for the time period. I hope, for example, that as you watch Thunderball you get some enjoyment from seeing what the Bahamas were like in the early 60s. As a result you hopefully gain some appreciation for how much things have changed, and how some have stayed the same.

Consider this: The color TV did not become mainstream until GE’s Porta-Color set was released in 1966. In 1965 there was no National Geographic channel, there was no Blue Planet. Hell, I don’t think most people had cable then…I think the best you could do was have a big-ole ugly antennae on your house.

Imagine your only exposure to Jacques Cousteau’s aqua-lung was watching Lloyd Bridge’s Sea Hunt on a snowy black and white TV.

Luciana Paluzzi was a very bad Bond Girl…making her the best ever.

Then BAM! You go to watch Thunderball. Not only do they introduce brilliant underwater photography to the main stream world for the first time, but it is bad motherfucker James Bond doing it. He is kicking evil henchmen ass, seducing beautiful women, all while cute sea turtles are swimming around him. All in brilliant color. Can you even imagine how mind-blowing that must have been!? It is not coincidence that the scuba diving organization PADI was founded in 1966. People when nuts for scuba diving after Thunderball.

Therefore, like comparing eras in sports, you can’t compare 1965 special effects to 2012 special effects without recognizing that it was a completely different era.

People watch the movie today and complain about the long underwater scenes. They are desensitized to it because they are frequently exposed to so much brilliant underwater photography now. But that was not the case in 1965. When you watch the movie you have to imagine the how cool it would been to be introduced to that brilliant underwater world, all with the other-worldly John Barry music playing mesmerizingly.  It had to be mind blowing! It is still okay today, but for it’s time it was incredible!

BOND GIRLS

Thunderball has the best Bond Girls. Period. They are, in order of hotness:

  1. Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona
  2. Martine Beswick as Paula
  3. Claudine Auger as Domino

Actually there is a nurse and Moneypenny as well, but these are the three that make you drool…

Luciana Paluzzi is the best Bond Girl ever. (Man! Do I have a thing for redheads or what!?) She is just incredible. I wish I could go back in time and see what she would look like done up in modern fashion. (In the movie she goes full-out with the 1960s hairspray and polyester clothing to boot.) I should also mention that Luciana Paluzzi is not a thin girl. Much like our Johnnie Walker friend, I like a redhead with curves.

SEAN CONNERY’S PHYSIQUE

Apparently I have a man crush on Sean Connery. I just realized that he is younger in this picture than I am now. Going to cry now.

Here comes the nauseating man crush. I know you ladies have the hots for Daniel Craig and Matthew McConaughey. Those guys are ripped. They must spend hours and hours in the gym. And that is fine, but it also just seems over the top and fake to me to be that ripped.

Sean Connery looks like a man’s man. He looks like he got his tone from doing manly things: swimming, fucking, drinking, fighting. I would like to know what you ladies think, but to me he appears to be a perfect male specimen.

He also has that swagger of a walk. Reportedly, Sean Connery landed to 007 role after the casting people watched him walk to his car one day.

SEAN CONNERY’S DIALOG

I am approaching my 750 word limit so I will have to wrap it up. Thunderball is like a collection of James Bond’s best puns, comebacks, innuendos, and double entendres. Somehow he pulls them off without sounding over-the-top like subsequent bond films did. I looked on youtube but could not find the scene where he shoots skeet with Largo, the evil villian of the film. It is awesome banter filled with double meanings and insults. James Bond’s coy attitude is incredible! This is why men want to be like Bond! We have all been insulted and only think of a clever comeback long after it is too late to use it. James Bond nails it every time!

There is a scene when Fiona and her henchmen capture Bond and she says something about him enjoying sleeping with her. Bond’s response is something along the lines of, “Don’t flatter yourself my dear, what I did I did for queen and country and took no pleasure in it at all.”

Oh Snap he didn’t! Oh yes he did say it! BURN!

No wonder men want to be like James Bond! Chauvinist and all!

GADGETS

Of course, brunettes are nice too.

Lastly let me say that Thunderball nails the spy gadgetry that James Bond is known for. None of Q’s equipment is as cheesy as subsequent Bond films.

For these reasons, Thunderball has held up really well and is enjoyable to watch even today. But in 1965 it must have been mind blowingly awesome! It had to beyond Skyfall’s “solid” and into the realm “totally awesome”. Therefore it earns the #1 spot in my Top 5 James Bond Movies list.

Tomorrow will conclude the James Bond Series with a post that explains why Skyfall and other Bond movies did not make the Top 5 cut.

6 thoughts on “Best Bond Movies #1: Thunderball

  1. Pingback: Best Bond Movies #2: The Spy Who Loved Me « Smooth ReEntry

  2. Pingback: Best Bond Movies Addendum « Smooth ReEntry

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