MI6 dives in to the deep end to find out what the
reviewers thought of Connery's fourth outing "Thunderball" back
Time Tunnel: Larger Than Life
8th October 2007
In 1965, James Bond dived into "Thunderball", his
fourth big screen
as many years - and this one promised to be bigger and better
that the previous outings. Look up! Look out! Sean Connery is
the larger than life secret agent who dabbles in the Bahamas
while on the
tail of SPECTRE's agent, Largo.
James Bond is described as "spectacular" and "colourful" by
the Time Magazine review de jour:
"Thunderball spreads a treasury of wish-fulfilling fantasy over a nickel's worth of plot. The fantasy is the familiar amalgam of wholesale sex, comic-strip heroism, bogus glamour and James Bond (Sean Connery)."
Reviews of the era identified the Bond
pictures growing in scale and the development of an iconic
hero for a new age.
"Though From Russia with Love
remains the liveliest Bond opera to date, Thunderball is
by all odds the most spectacular. Its script hasn't a morsel
of genuine wit, but Bond fans, who are preconditioned to
roll in the aisles when their hero merely asks a waiter
to bring some beluga caviar and Dom Pérignon '55,
will probably never notice."
"My dear girl,
don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was
for King and country. You don't think it gave me any
pleasure do you?"
Right: James Bond (Sean Connery) and
Leiter (Rik Van Nutter) go diving in Thunderball.
"Thunderball" marked the bowing out
from the Bond franchise of legendary director, Terence
Young. While the presses have, at times, criticized his over-zealous
directing style this reviewer notes Young's attempt to engage
all the senses in 007's underwater extravaganza. "They are
switched on by a legend that plays straight to the senses, and
its colors are primary. Director Terence Young dunks his camera
into a swimming pool full of sharks for the film's best single
shot, a fisheye view from below, filtered through a victim's
blood. Still more dazzling is a climactic, blue-green underwater
battle between Largo's men, wearing black rubber wet suits, and
the brave lads from Our Side, parachuting to the fray in flag
Above: 007's "French playmate" as played by Claudine Auger.
While the iconography and
direction is noted upon, "Thunderball" disappoints
the critics by sticking solidly with the tried
and true James Bond formula, something much debated even
"Bond's dry-land conquests were somewhat zingier type in Goldfinger, but in Thunderball he manages a change of pace by joining Largo's seaworthy French playmate (Claudine Auger)
for an amorous exploit down among the corals. "I hope we didn't frighten the fish," he quips afterward, wading ashore. Alas, even subaqueous sex cannot keep the formula entirely fresh. Yet, if Thunderball's gimmickry seems to overreach at times, Actor Connery gains assurance from film to film, by now delivers all his soppiest Jimcracks martini-dry."
Sean Connery's peak as Bond is by all accounts during "Thunderball".
His cool, calm and collected secret agent "is hilariously
astringent when he drops a limp dancing partner at a nightclubber's
ringside table," and polishing off this top notch performance
is the everlasting line: "D'you mind if my friend sits this
one out? She's just dead." And indeed she is.
James Bond Time Tunnel