Trivia - Thunderball
Kevin McClory, Ian Fleming and Jack Whittingham
collaborated on an original story and screenplay for what would
the very first 007 film, entitled "James Bond, Secret Agent".
McClory reportedly wanted Richard Burton to play James Bond.
For whatever reasons, the movie was never made. Fleming had previously
cannibalized plots prepared for two other abandoned Bond spin-off
projects, a newspaper comic strip and a television series, for
007 novels, and similarly turned this one into his novel "Thunderball".
However, in this case his right to do so was not so clear. When
Albert R. Broccoli bought film rights to the Bond novels from
Fleming, McClory initiated legal action. Although this production
is a fairly faithful adaptation of the published novel, McClory's
suit resulted in only the earlier screenplay being credited as
source material. McClory's producer credit was another term of
The dictionary definition of the word "thunderball" is
that it was a military term used by US soldiers to describe the
mushroom cloud seen during the testing of atomic bombs. Hence
its use as a title because this would be result of SPECTRE detonating
the stolen atomic bombs. In a case of life imitating art, the
codename for the 1976 Israeli operation to rescue hostages held
in Uganda was called "Thunderball" and named after
Thunderbeatle was the nickname for James Bond creator Ian Fleming
given to him by his wife Ann Fleming.
The many underwater scenes stem from Kevin McClory's interest
The first outline for this movie was written by Ernest Cuneo
on 27th May 1959. Cureo was later used as the name of a character
in Fleming's novel Diamonds Are Forever, but not in its subsequent
"Goldfinger" (1964) director Guy Hamilton was originally
offered the directing job by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli.
However, due to fatigue at the time, he felt he could not add
anything more, and turned it down.
Maurice Binder returned to the series to design the main title
sequence for this movie after being absent from the previous
two Bond movies, "From Russia with Love" (1963) and "Goldfinger" (1964).
He had designed the opening titles for "Dr. No" (1962)
and would continue on every Bond movie after this one until his
last on Licence to Kill (1989). For the opening main title sequence,
Binder filmed swimmers swimming naked in black and white before
adding in the color by an optical process afterward.
The budget for this Bond film was more than the combined budgets
of the first three Bond films.
Raquel Welch was originally cast as Domino; however 20th Century
Fox Production Chief Richard D. Zanuck asked producer Albert
R. Broccoli to release her from contract as a favor so she could
star in "Fantastic Voyage" (1966).
Raquel Welch, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Yvonne Monlaur,
Mary Menzies, Gloria Paul and Maria Grazia Buccella were all
contenders for the role of Domino. Raquel Welch dropped out to
do Fantastic Voyage (1966). Faye Dunaway would later be a contender
to play Octopussy.
Principal photography at Château d'Anet, Anet, Eure-et-Loir,
France coincided with the French Premiere of the previous James
Bond movie, "Goldfinger" (1964). As such, members of
the production attended the French launch.
The Fiona Volpe character was originally Irish and called Fiona
Kelly in earlier drafts of the script. But the surname was changed
to suit the Italian nationality of Luciana Paluzzi who was cast
in the role of Fiona after being rejected for the role of Domino.
The character does not appear at all in the novel.
The reason why many of the villains are played by Italian actors
was because the original script did not involve SPECTRE but Italian
gangsters in the Sicilian Mafia, with Largo as a Crime Boss.
In early outlines / treatments for this movie, the Domino Derval
(aka Dominique Derval) character was known as Domino Smith. She
is known as Domino Petachi in this movie's remake, Never Say
Never Again (1983). The Paula Caplan character was called Paula
Roberts at first.
A character called Fatima Blush was originally created by Ian
Fleming as a double agent and existed in early treatments / outlines
of this movie. She does not appear in neither the book nor movie
Thunderball (1965) but does in its remake, Never Say Never Again
Claudine Auger was a former Miss France, but being French her
voice was dubbed.
Producer McClory has a cameo as a man seated smoking a cigar
at the Nassau Casino when James Bond arrives.
This film and "From Russia with Love" (1963) are the
only Bond movies to use the wipe editing technique in scene transitions.
Luciana Paluzzi was originally considered for the role of Domino,
but was cast as evil Fiona Volpe instead.
There is debate over who provides Blofeld's voice in this film.
Some sources say Joseph Wiseman. Other sources give credit to
Eric Pohlmann. In any event, Anthony Dawson, who provided Blofeld's
body in "From Russia with Love" (1963), makes a return
Martine Beswick had previously appeared as one of the gypsy
girls in "From Russia with Love" (1963).
Martine Beswick is well-tanned in the film, but before shooting
she was pale white due to years of stage work in England. So
before filming in Nassau she was required to spend some two weeks
sunning herself to get the proper tan of a native girl.
Maryse Guy Mitsouko's voice was dubbed by Catherine Clemence.
Singer/actor Burl Ives was originally chosen to play Largo when
author Ian Fleming and producer Kevin McClory first started to
get the Bond series up and running.
Adolfo Celi (Largo) had his lines dubbed over by Robert Rietty.
The grandson of Henry Ford appeared as an extra. Ford were associated
with the picture providing a number of vehicles such as a light
sky blue Ford Mustang convertible, Ford Bell 47J and 1965 Ford
Vehicles featured included the return of the silver birch Aston
Martin DB5 from "Goldfinger" (1964); Fiona Volpe's
gold BSA 650cc A65L Lightning motorcycle and 1965 white top Ford
Mustang light sky blue convertible; the Disco Volante hydrofoil
yacht; Triumph Herald Cabriolet; a white 1965 Ford Thunderbird
driven by Emilio Largo in Paris; Count Lippe's black 1957 Ford
Fairlane 500 Skyliner with retractable hardtop roof; Bell Aerosystems
Rocketbelt jet-pack; 007 drives a 1965 Lincoln Continental convertible
in the Bahamas; a Sikorsky S-62; a Boeing B-17 plane; a hijacked
Avro Vulcan B.1 bomber aircraft; a Bell 47J helicopter; a 1965
Ford station wagon; speedboats and underwater sledges such as
frogmen driven underwater motorized tow sleds and an underwater
motorized bomb sled for carrying two atomic weapons.
The rocket-propulsion Jet Pack seen in the film was originally
designed and invented for military use. It is also known as the
Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD). The original intention as conceived
during the 1950s was for soldiers to be able to improve their
agility, depth of field and ability to commandeer terrain by
being able to jump over impeding landmarks and waterways. The
Bell Aerosystems Rocketbelt model was used for this movie. Its
flight goes for twenty one seconds, and provides 1000 brake horsepower.
The character of Count Lippe is a reference to Ian Fleming's
old friend from his days as an intelligence officer, Prince Bernhard
of Holland. Bernhard was born as Bernhard von Lippe Biesterfeld.
Prince Bernhard was very pleased by the reference.
The title song was originally to be "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang
Bang" sung by Dionne Warwick, but was changed at the last
minute to "Thunderball" sung by Tom Jones. Four different
versions of the song were recorded, including a version sung
by Shirley Bassey and two different instrumental versions; the
two instrumental versions were eventually released on disc, while
Dionne Warwick's version was used in the opening credit sequence
of an unreleased version of the film.
During the recording of the title song "Thunderball",
Tom Jones asked the song's writer what the "strikes like
thunderball" line meant. The song's composer allegedly replied
that he didn't know.
Jones reportedly fainted after recording the high note at the
end of recording the song.
This is the first James Bond film to be shot in a widescreen
First 007 film in which Bond doesn't smoke. Interestingly though,
a large papier-mache Marlboro box can be spotted on the right
side of the screen during a festival.
For the first time, Sean Connery performs the gunbarrel opening
sequence. In the first three Bond films, the job was done with
stuntman Bob Simmons.
Reginald Beckwith, who plays the minor part of Kenniston, died
before the movie's release.
For the scene where Major Francois Derval opens the door on
himself, it was a composited shot, and not a body double used.
The part of Boiter, the man whom Bond fights in the pre-title
sequence after disguising himself as his own widow, was played
by stunt coordinator Bob Simmons. Before the widow gets punched,
the part is played by Rose Alba, explaining why "his" legs
look so good in a dress.
Stuntman Bob Simmons appeared to have made a very narrow escape
from the car explosion stunt during filming at Silverstone Racetrack,
Northamptonshire, England. Director Terence Young raced to the
scene whereupon Simmons surprised him from the side road as a
gag. People watching the stunt generally didn't see Simmons exit
the vehicle before the explosion, probably due to his exit-point
being in a blind-spot to the point-of-view of those overseeing
Ford produced a promotional film A Child's Guide to Blowing
Up a Motor Car (TV) as a promotional film to tie-in with the
release of the movie. The seventeen minute gently humorous short
film was about a boy's visit with his godfather Uncle Denis to
one of the movie's filming locations at Silverstone Racetrack,
Northamptonshire, England. The end credits state "Made for
the Film Library of FORD OF BRITAIN". It is available on
the Thunderball DVD Ultimate Edition.
According to "Bond-Gadget-Designer" Ken Adam, the
jet pack that Bond uses to escape his enemies was no nice special
effect but a real jet pack provided by the US Air Force. Initially
Sean Connery was to fly the jet pack without a helmet (and some
publicity photos of him with the jet pack were made with him
without a helmet), but it was later decided he wear a helmet
in the scene.
The Shrublands resort was actually a converted hotel near Pinewood
When Bond says goodbye to Patricia Fearing with the phrase "another
time, another place," he is making an in-joke reference
to another Sean Connery film, "Another Time, Another Place" (1958).
When she appears behind the shower screen, Molly Peters became
the first Bond girl to appear nude. The girls in the title sequence
were also naked, but they don't really count.
A timely reference to the recent British train robbery was inserted
into the script at the last minute. This can be heard during
the SPECTRE meeting after the opening credits.
The conga drummer at the Kiss Kiss Club is King Errisson (uncredited)
and not only has a recording career of his own but also has played
in the Neil Diamond band since 1972.
The only Bond film where we get a glimpse of all 00 agents in
one shot. They are summoned to M's briefing and 007 is the last
to join in. He sits down in the only available chair - the seventh
from the left.
In the scene where Bond and Domino meet underwater and disappear
behind a rock, the scene was originally supposed to show Domino's
bikini float out from behind the rock. Producer Albert R. Broccoli
vetoed this because he felt it was too suggestive.
A Royal Navy engineer approached the producers
after the film's release to ask them how they designed the mini-rebreather.
he had been working on something similar but could not figure
it out. He was devastated when the producers told them their
secret - the actors were holding their breath.
Stuntman Bill Cumming was paid a $450 bonus to jump into Largo's
shark infested pool.
To prevent anyone using the Vulcan bomber mock-up for future
filming, the production team blew up the plane with dynamite.
The frame work left behind has since become a reef.
Largo's two-section yacht the Disco Volante was adapted from
a hydrofoil vessel called The Flying Fish. It cost $500,000 to
acquire from Puerto Rico and transfer to Miami for refitting
and refurbishment. It was given a cocoon shell which was fifty
feet long and could be separated from the main boat as seen in
the movie's finale.
In the underwater scenes where Bond encounters sharks, Sean
Connery was supposed to be protected by clear plastic panels
shielding him from sharks in close-ups. However, the panels only
extended about three feet in height and sharks could swim over
them; as a result in some scenes (notably during the pool fight
at Largo's mansion) Connery got much closer to real sharks than
he wanted - director Terence Young said in a 1995 interview that
scenes used in the film where Bond reacts in fright at the approach
of a shark were miscues in which Connery was reacting with genuine
terror as a shark approached unobstructed by plastic shielding.
The large ship that fires a cannon at the Disco Volante at the
end can be identified as the Royal Navy frigate HMS Rothesay
from its pennant number (F 107).
As overseen by John Stears, the special effects explosion of
the Disco Volante was so powerful it shattered and blew out windows
about twenty to thirty miles away in Nassau's Bay Street where
the film's Junkanoo Mardi-Gras sequence was filmed. Reportedly,
he had not known how potent and strong a mix the experimental
rocket fuel was in order to create the explosion.
The aircraft that plucks James Bond and Domino out of the life
raft was a highly modified B-17G (and was a prototype for the
USAF/NASA Satellite Airborne Recovery Project).
The film was originally supposed to have had its premiere at
the Odeon, Leicester Square, London in September 1965. It was
delayed until December because the film could not be completed
The film's World Premiere was held on 9th December 1965 at the
Hibiya Cinema, Tokyo, Japan. The film's US Premiere was on 21
December 1965 in New York and this is sometimes mistaken as being
the movie's World Premiere.
Product placements, brand integrations and promotional tie-ins
for this movie include the Aston Martin DB5; Smirnoff Vodka;
Rolex Watches, James Bond wears a Rolex Submariner; Cinzano Vermouth;
Breitling "Top Time" watches; the Bell Textron Jetpack;
Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskey; Corgi Toys; and Dom Perignon Champagne,
particularly a Dom Perignon '55.
Coinciding with the release of the film, Milton Bradley marketed
a "Thunderball" board game, having marketed a "James
Bond" board game the previous year. These were just two
of numerous 007 tie-ins introduced on the market at the height
of the early Bond boom.
The film's title song is sung by Tom Jones. A song called "Thunderball" sung
by Johnny Cash was submitted to the filmmakers but was rejected.
A cover version of the title song sung by Martin Fry can be heard
on the David Arnold Bond song compilation album, "Shaken
and Stirred: the David Arnold James Bond Project". Another
cover of the theme song was apparently recorded by Mr. Bungle
but it has never been released.
It took almost thirty years for the complete soundtrack for
the film to be released. This was because composer John Barry
was still scoring the second half of the picture when the music
for the recording of the soundtrack was required. Practically
no music from the second half of the movie appeared in the original
Members of the cast and crew were interviewed several times
about the film while it was being shot due to the immense popularity
of the Bond series. Sean Connery, however, consented to just
one interview and it was with "Playboy" magazine.
In the trailer for the film, Bond says the line, "The things
I do for England." The line was cut from the final version
of the film, and then used in the next Bond film, You Only Live
A special charity premiere was held on the 10th of February
1966 in Ireland at the Savoy Theatre in Dublin. Production personnel
attending included Albert R. Broccoli, Kevin McClory, Luciana
Paluzzi and Molly Peters. Frogmen wearing harpoons and underwater
wet-suits adorned the screening whilst an after party was held
at the Gresham Hotel.
The only individual James Bond movie to win a Visual or Special
Effects Oscar (Academy Award). It was for Best Effects, Special
Visual Effects and awarded to John Stears in 1966. "Moonraker" (1979)
was nominated for Best Effects, Visual Effects in 1979 but did
not win. Albert R. Broccoli received the Irving Thalberg Memorial
Award from the Academy for producing the group of James Bond
movies in 1982. Goldfinger (1964) won the first Bond Oscar for
This was the most popular Bond movie with paying audiences,
racking up 140 million ticket sales. Goldfinger (1964), with
130 million ticket sales, ranks number two in popularity.
"Thunderball" was another huge success - it was the
top grossing film in both the UK and the US in 1966. Connery
himself was the top grossing actor in both 1965 and 1966. In
Paris, the film took $95,000 in just three days; in Rome it made
$79,000; Milan $25,000; Stockholm $20,000; and in Tokyo, it shattered
the existing record at the Hibaya Theatre and took $110,000 in
just nine days. By the end of its first run, total US admissions
had reached some 74.8 million and the world-wide gross would
come it at a staggering $141.2 million.
Final James Bond film directed by Terence Young.