That's No Moonraker: Thunderball

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June 13th, 2020


Pete and Alex dive into 1965's "Thunderball".




L007 Up.jpg


  • 4th film based on the 9th book (8th full-length novel).
  • Synopsis from Google.
  • This movie, when adjusted for inflation is the most financially successful James Bond film, driven by anticipation for the sequel following Goldfinger.
  • Same production designer as the last movie, same director as Dr. No and from From Russia with Love.
  • Dubbed voices.
    • Domino was dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl, Fiona was not.
    • The physiotherapist is dubbed by the same woman as Tatiana from From Russia with Love.
    • Paula, their contact, was Zora (one of the girls fighting over Bond in FRWL).
  • Spectre #5 (Phil Stone) is a recurring Kubrick guy (including Grady from The Shining), the Backshi Lord of the Rings, Flash Gordon, and Blumburtt in Temple of Doom.
  • Jack Dearlove (Clinic patient): frequent background extra and day player
    • George Lazenby's stand-in, Terrence Stamp's stand-in (Superman), and Harrison Ford's Stand-in for like every movie from '77 to '89.
  • The co-pilot (referenced: Bodhi Rook) is Captain Needa (again).
  • Air vice-marshal (Jack Gwillam) was also Poseidon in Clash of the Titans (1981).
  • They used all real sharks and even killed one for the film (see below).
  • They really bolted two boats together (since super-yachts weren't yet a thing).


  • Legal woes surrounding this film.
    • Originally slated to be the first movie, it was based on Fleming's screenplay he did together with two co-authors in between the publication of the first book (Casino Royale) and the fourth book. Fleming later turned the screenplay into a novel on his own and his co-authors sued him.
    • The legal battle continued until 2006 (long time).
    • Co-authors had the rights to the story but were not allowed to make other James Bond movies.
      • They were credited as producers on this film and were eventually allowed to make their own movie with the same story.
    • Now everybody is owned by MGM.
  • General attitudes about the film. Is it more a piece with the first three movies or more cartoony?
  • Proper abstract opening credits.
  • The cold open: James Bond punches a lady and takes off in a jet pack.
    • Alex ranks this as the top for cold opens so far.

The title song

    • This is the fourth iteration of the song.
    1. After Goldfinger, they called Shirley Bassey back up and she agreed to do the next film. They wrote a song called "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang".
      • Derived from an 1962 Italian review, in reference to the character of Bond.
      • We do hear the song later (and there is a club called the Kiss Kiss Club) but it is not performed by Bassey (it's an instrumental).
      • The credits were too long to match the song.
    2. They called Bassey back but she was unavailable to re-record for a longer song so they got Dionne Warwick. But the song "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" did not have the name of the film even in the lyrics much less the title of the song.
      • Pete's Rule technicality for James Bond songs.
    3. Johnny Cash wrote and recorded a song called "Thunderball" not necessarily specifically for this film. But the genre didn't fit.
    4. They finally went with Tom Jones.
      • The (possibly true) urban legend that he belted out the last note so hard that he passed out.

Other notes

  • Bond girls for this film.
    • Domino (main).
      • Other actresses considered for the role of Domino.
    • Fiona Volpe (SPECTRE agent).
      • Volpe is meta-aware that women are supposed to instantly switch to Bond's side once he seduces them.
    • Cubby Broccoli's casting couch.
  • Spectre agents are numbered and sitting in numerical order. Parallels when all the 00s are brought together and there are nine seats (Bond sits in #7).
  • Not showing Blofeld's face.
  • Star Wars crossovers
    • Peter Roy=Olander Brit from Return of the Jedi. Also in Top secret, Superman IV, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
    • Big John McLaughlin (stunt diver) was nearly everybody in the underwater scenes, and a stormtrooper in the Holiday special.
      • Other stunt work in James Bond including in Never Say Never Again.
    • George Leech is back.
  • New Felix Leiter. He wears his sunglasses at night. Here and gone, we won't be seeing him no more (Wrong Show).
    • Three appearances, three actors, fueling the codename Theory.
      • Theory that the first Leiter went to live with Dink.
      • Referenced: the defense against the dark arts from Harry Potter.
  • New gadgets: jetpack, hoses shooting out of the back of his car, bullet proof screen in the back (not new). Geiger counter, and camera that is also a geiger counter. Jedi rebreather (see minute 14 of TPM), and tracking pill.
    • Bad guy death-chair. Goofy rack.
  • Constantly not killing Bond when they have the chance: "we can't kill him yet". 
  • Alex: the dancing scenes are universally terrible.
  • We've broken the "brakefast" streak.
  • Script notes to Eon Productions from unknown.
    • Parts that were considered "too much" were left in.
  • Shark notes.
    • It smelled "unbelievably awful".
    • When Sean Connery went in the water with the sharks they put up a plexiglass wall between him and the sharks, but they didn't get enough Plexi and at one point the shark got around to Connery's side and Connery was not having it.
  • Jango Fett-style missile.
  • Spectre #6 (stuntman Bob Simmons) (the lady Bond beats up in the beginning).
  • Dog peeing in the middle of the shot, lobster during the underwater fight. Referenced: the Simpsons.
  • Alex weighs in with personal experience with diving.
  • Rankings: Alex (bottom of the stack so far), Pete: referenced: Ishtar. He really liked it, and actually watched it in one chunk despite it being the longest. Favorite so far.
  • "See you later... irrigator". Referenced: Alphabeatical.
  • Second best opening song (of the two that qualify.
  • Meta Notes

    • MGM Studios (who currently own the Bond franchise) is a subsidiary of MGM Holdings, Inc., a private corporation.
    • Various recordings of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (Bassey and Warwick) and Johnny Cash's "Thunderball".
    • Vulpes vulpes is the scientific name for the red fox.
    • "Thunderball" is a real term used by the US military to refer to a nuclear mushroom cloud.


    • Alex: (quoting his wife) "I'm having trouble telling all these 60s ladies apart".
    • Alex: What's her name? Dodo?
    • Pete: ...don't even bother with all that gastrointestinal stuff.
    • Alex: We're not going to care if someone is in [sic] "Superman versus Batman".
    • Alex: Assistant to the henchmen, Phil Collins.

    Star Wars names

    Star Wars pun names for Thunderball  
    • DarThunderball
    • ThunderbAlderaan
    • ThunderBail
    • ThunderbAll wings report in.
    • ThunderPol
    • (later) ThunderMaul

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