Trivia - Thunderball

Kevin McClory, Ian Fleming and Jack Whittingham collaborated on an original story and screenplay for what would have been 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 settlement.

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 this movie.

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 in diving.

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 film adaptation

"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 (1983).

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 appearance.

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 station wagon.

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 process, Panavision.

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 the stunt.

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 Studios.

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. Apparently 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 in time.

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 score's release.

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 Twice (1967).

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 Sound Effects.

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.