Release Details - Credits - Music - Cast - Notes

release details
Date of release: 29 December 1965 (UK/US)
Running time: 130 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.35 : 1 (the first Bond movie to be made in the full Panavision format)
Classification: PG (UK)

Alternative titles: Fireball (Germany), Operation Thunder (France, Italy, Spain, Belgium), Thunderball Fighting (Japan), Calm Down, Mr Bond (Netherlands), Agent 007 Into The Fire (Denmark).

Presented by: Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli
Produced by: Kevin McClory
Directed by: Terence Young
Screenplay by: Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins
Based on an original screenplay by: Jack Whittingham
Based on an original story by: Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and Ian Fleming
Production designed by: Ken Adam
Director of photography: Ted Moore BSC
Supervising editor: Peter Hunt
Special effects: John Stears
Action sequences by: Bob Simmons
Main title designed by: Maurice Binder

Music composed and conducted by: John Barry

Main theme: "Thunderball"
Sung by: Tom Jones
Lyrics by: Don Black
Highest chart position: 35 (UK), 8 (US)

End theme: The British version of the film uses the James Bond theme to accompany the end credits; the international version uses an instrumental version of "Thunderball".

Musical notes: The main theme was originally going to be a song called "Mr Kiss-Kiss-Bang-Bang" that was performed by Dionne Warwick (although Shirley Bassey apparently also recorded a version) and written by John Barry with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. However, it was then decided that the main theme should bear the title of the film, so it was replaced by the Tom Jones song. However, an instrumental version of "Mr Kiss-Kiss-Bang-Bang" is used in the soundtrack and the song itself was released on the James Bond 30th Anniversary Collection. The soundtrack also makes use of John Barry's "007" theme, previously heard in From Russia With Love.

James Bond: Sean Connery
Dominique (Domino) Derval: Claudine Auger (dubbed by Monica van der Syl)
Emilio Largo: Adolfo Celi (dubbed by Robert Rietty)
Fiona Volpe: Luciana Paluzzi
Felix Leiter: Rik Van Nutter
Count Lippe: Guy Doleman
Patricia Fearing: Mollie Peters (incorrectly credited as Molly Peters)
Paula Caplan: Martine Beswick
M: Bernard Lee
Q: Desmond Llewelyn
Miss Moneypenny: Lois Maxwell
Foreign Secretary: Roland Culver
Pinder: Earl Cameron
Angelo Palazzi/Major Francois Derval: Paul Stassino
Vargas: Philip Locke
Professor Ladislav Kutze: George Pravda
Janni: Michael Brennan
Group Captain: Leonard Sachs
Air Vice Marshall Sir John: Edward Underdown
Kenniston: Reginald Beckwith
Hydrofoil Captain: Harold Sandersson

Body of Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Anthony Dawson
Voice of Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Eric Pohlmann
Colonel Jacques Boitier: Rose Alba (credited as Madame Boitier) and Bob Simmons
Mme LaPorte: Maryse Guy Mitsouko
Quist: Bill Cummings
Dawson: Patrick Holt
Gate Guard at Air Force Base: Anthony Blackshaw
Vulcan crewman: Michael Culver
Radar Navigator: Anthony Bailey
Crewman: George Leech
SPECTRE Henchman: Ian Bulloch
SPECTRE Driver: Courtney Brown
SPECTRE Number 5: Philip Stone
SPECTRE Number 9: Clive Cazes
SPECTRE Number 10: André Maranne
SPECTRE Number 13: Gabor Bareker
Senior RAF Officer: Jack Gwillm
Prue: Suzy Kendall

The gunbarrel: The gunbarrel sequence was reshot due to Thunderball being the first film to be made in Panavision (the 2.35 : 1 ratio) and Sean Connery makes his debut in the opening sequence. He wears a hat to match the Simmons sequence used for the first three films, but he is still recognisable. This new footage is in colour, wheras the Simmons version was black and white. This is also the first film where the opening shot of the film becomes visible through the dot. The arrangement of the Bond theme is quite slow.

Using the title: Thunderball is the codename given to the Secret Service operation to retrieve the stolen nuclear missiles, as marked on an assignment folder given to Bond by M and mentioned in dialogue.

The novel approach: As a novel "Thunderball" has a long and complicated history. It started life in the late 50s as a story for an original James Bond film that was developed by Ian Fleming, together with Kevin McClory, Ivar Bryce and Ernest Cuneo. Later Jack Whittingham was brought in to further develop the story and to write the screenplay. However, the film was ultimately not made, apparently due to the fact that Fleming and Bryce's confidence in McClory as a producer waned. Fleming, for reasons of his own, adapted the story into his next novel but failed to acknowledge his co-developers. McClory sued Fleming for plagiarism and false attribution. The case was eventually settled out of court, with the result that all future editions of the novel should credit McClory and Whittingham for their contribution, and the assignment of the film rights to McClory. McClory was keen to turn his rights into a film, but realised the futility of going into competition with the successful EON series. This resulted in a deal where Thunderball became the fourth film, which was produced by Kevin McClory and simply "presented by" Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli. Of course, McClory later remade the film as Never Say Never Again in 1983 and claimed the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE since they were created for the film that became "Thunderball", preventing their inclusion in The Spy Who Loved Me.
Thunderball is generally a faithful adaptation of the story as it appeared in Fleming's novel. The main change is the addition of Fiona Volpe and a different method used by SPECTRE to hijack the atomic bombs (replacing the original NATO observer with someone who has undergone plastic surgery, instead of simply bribing the observer himself). Also Domino's surname is Vitali in the book, whereas it was changed to Derval for the film.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service: The pattern established in the earlier films is continued, with M, Moneypenny and Q all present. Q supports Bond in the field for the first time, something which he claims is "highly irregular" but would be repeated in a number of subsequent films.
We see a new part of the Service's headquarters, an elaborate conference room where M briefs his agents on the Thunderball operation. There has also been a slight change to Moneypenny's office - the hat stand has been moved next to the door, preventing Bond from making his usual entrance by throwing his hat on to it. Moneypenny refers to M as "the old man" - something that he doesn't take kindly to.
Station C covers Canada; this is where Bond is initially assigned until he persuades M to send him to the Bahamas instead. It is implied that the Secret Service also has stations in France (employing Mme LaPorte) and Nassau (employing Pinder and Paula Caplan), although neither of these are named.

The Double 0 Section: M makes a briefing in the conference room to "every Double 0 agent Europe" (according to Moneypenny). There are nine chairs, of which Bond sits in the seventh from the right. This appears to imply that there are nine Double 0 agents at this point (although it is unclear how the Europe reference fits in). We don't get a clear view of most the other people sat in the chairs, but we do see that one is bearded (possibly 006 since he is sat to the left of Bond). Apparently another is a woman, although it is not clear which one.

Locations: France (a manor house in an unidentified location and then Paris); the South of England (principally in and around Shrublands health farm, which is near to an airbase); MI6 HQ in London; Nassau, Bahamas.

The villain: SPECTRE returns, now based in Paris under the cover of a philanthropic organisation called the "International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons". However, the organisation is represented in the film mainly by Emilio Largo, Number 2, who is in charge of the NATO project. This involves the hijacking of two MDS-type atomic bombs (numbered 456 and 457) and demanding one hundred million pounds ransom ($280 million) from NATO by threatening to explode the bombs in a major city in Britain or the US. The operation has been planned for at least two years.
Largo himself is ostensibly a wealthy businessman, based in his large house in Nassau called Palmyra and on-board his luxury yacht, the Disco Volante (which essentially means "Flying Saucer" in pidgin-Italian, if not Italian). Other than his love of fishing and collecting marine creatures (including a swimming pool of sharks) we learn little of Largo, not even the reason why he wears an eye patch. Largo is harpooned by Domino.
A number of other SPECTRE operatives work with Largo, principally Count Lippe, a well spoken Englishman who bizarrely has a Red Tong tattoo, and Fiona Volpe, who appears to represent SPECTRE's Execution Branch.

The girl: Dominique Derval, known as Domino to her friends. She is Largo's lover, but she tells people that she is either his ward or his niece. Domino is very close to her brother, Major Francois Derval, a NATO observer who is killed as part of the SPECTRE plot. When she learns of this is determined to avenge him - something she achieves by killing Largo. In a fascinating piece of trivia we learn that Domino has two moles on her left thigh.

Bond's conquests: Three - Pat Fearing, Fiona Volpe and Domino.

Gadgets: Bond is still using his Aston Martin DB5, although the only accessories used are the bullet proof shield (seen in Goldfinger) and a high pressure water spray (a new device). In Nassau Q provides Bond with a number of devices: a waterproof watch that acts as a Geiger counter, an underwater camera that can take eight shots in darkness using an infra-red film, a minature flare, a "harmless" radioactive pill that allows Bond to be located and a miniature underwater rebreather that provides about 4 minutes of air.

Recurring characters: Felix Leiter returns again, with Rik Van Nutter becoming the third actor to play the role. Nutter was a friend of the Broccolis who was married to Anita Ekberg, an actress who had appeared in Call Me Bwana, another film produced by Broccoli and Saltzman (a poster for which appears in From Russia With Love). It was originally intended that Nutter would return in future films, but Felix was not seen again until Diamonds Are Forever, when the part was again recast. Thunderball makes use of the fact that Leiter is being played by an unfamiliar actor in order to initially portray him as a possibly threatening figure who is watching Bond, in exactly the same way as Dr No.
Blofeld returns after being introduced in From Russia With Love. He is again a shadowy figure whose face is not shown. As with the earlier film, Blofeld's body is provided by Anthony Dawson and the voice by Eric Pohlmann. Blofeld is again not named and is referred to only as Number One.

Continuity: SPECTRE had of course featured in the first two movies and continuity is maintained with From Russia With Love with Blofeld, Largo and Fiona all wearing rings featuring an octopus symbol.
As mentioned above, Bond is still driving the Aston Martin DB5 that he was issued with in Goldfinger, presumably recovered and repaired after its mishaps in Switzerland.
Although not an explicit continuity reference, Fiona makes a big issue about how sleeping with Bond has not turned her to side of the angels. This seems to be a bit of a dig at Goldfinger and the ease with which Pussy Galore was convinced to help Bond.

Cameos: Producer Kevin McClory appears in the the Nassau casino - he is the seated man smoking a cigar who Bond walks past. Charles Russhon, a military advisor to the movies (previously namechecked in Goldfinger) appears as a US Air Force officer during the scene when the Double 0 agents are being briefed in the conference room.

Oscars: John Stears won the 1965 Visual Effects award for his work on the film.

Cuts: An underwater scene was deleted featuring Bond and Domino making love behind a rock - this featured a huge explosion of bubbles rising to the surface, followed by Domino's bathing costume. The scene was considered a little too suggestive.

I didn't catch the name?: 007 is asked his name on three separate occasions (by Largo, Domino and Fiona) but he never replies with the familiar "Bond...James Bond". However, Fiona calls him "Mr Bond...James Bond" when she is talking to Bond in the hotel room.

Vodka Martinis: None featured; the only drink Bond orders is Dom Perignon 55 when dining with Domino.

Gambling: The series gets its second proper gambling sequence (after Dr No) when Bond takes on Largo at Chemin de Fer in the Nassau casino. Bond wins on three hands: the first is when Largo is dealer (Bond has a score of 8), then Bond gains the shoe and wins 7 to 6 and 9 to 8.

Bond bits: We learn little new about Bond in the movie. However, for the first time in the movies it is mentioned that he keeps a gun under his pillow, a common habit of his literary counterpart.

Other trivia: During the SPECTRE briefing we learn about some of its recent activities: Number 5 has been providing consultancy to the British Great Train Robbers (a recent event at the time of the film's production); Number 7 has been running a blackmail operation; Numbers 9 and 11 have been selling Chinese narcotics in the USA (although Number 9 was embezzling funds and so was suitably punished); Number 10 has organised the assassination of a French anti-matter specialist who has defected above the Russians (implying that the West are not above making use of SPECTRE's services!). Colonel Jacques Boitier is SPECTRE Number 6 and it sounds like he is from the Execution Branch (he has recently killed two British agents). Despite the spelling of his name in the end credits it seems to be pronounced "Bouvar".

Anything else?: The film does not name is successor in the end credits, as had become standard at this point (this is certainly true for current prints - given the different UK and international versions that exist it is possible that originally it may have). When Bond uses a telephone against his assailant during a fight at Shrublands the voice that can be heard on the telephone is that of Bernard Lee.

The Bond Film Informant was compiled by Matthew Newton. © Copyright MJ Newton. No part of this site may be reproduced without permission unless otherwise stated.

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