Franchises of All Time
James Bond Films
James Bond Films
Dr. No (1962) | From Russia With Love (1963) | Goldfinger (1964) | Thunderball (1965)
You Only Live Twice (1967) | On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) | Diamonds are Forever (1971)
Live and Let Die (1973) | The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) | The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Moonraker (1979) | For Your Eyes Only (1981) | Octopussy (1983) | A View to a Kill (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987) | Licence to Kill (1989) | GoldenEye (1995) | Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World is Not Enough (1999) | Die Another Day (2002) | Casino Royale (2006) | Quantum of Solace, 007 (2008) | Skyfall (2012)
See Bond Girls in Thunderball (1965)
Opening Credits, Title Sequence
Film Plot Summary
The pre-title credits sequence was set in Paris, France at the funeral of JB (SPECTRE operative No. 6, French Colonel Jacques Bouvar (or Boitier)), who had murdered two agents, Bond's colleagues. Bouvar had faked his own death (reportedly passing away in his sleep) and dressed up as his own widow (Rose Alba/Bob Simmons). After the funeral and aware of the ruse/disguise, James Bond (Sean Connery) hurriedly followed her/him to his French chateau, where he fought and then strangled and broke Bouvar's neck with a fire-poker (# 1 death, #1 Bond kill). From the roof, Bond escaped by using his jet-pack rocket belt to fly him to his parked Aston Martin DB5 vehicle nearby, accompanied by French agent Madame La Porte (uncredited Mitsouko). He avoided pursuit by activating his car's rear armored shield and rear-firing water sprayers.
The high-ranking SPECTRE No. 2 villain, white-haired, black eye-patch-wearing Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), was introduced in Paris, entering the building of the philanthropic International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons. In a large, secret inner chamber, he met for a debriefing with unseen, ruthless Persian cat-petting SPECTRE No. 1 Ernst Stavro Blofeld (uncredited Anthony Dawson) and other SPECTRE agents - "a dedicated fraternity" of international terrorists. One of the agents, suspected of embezzlement, was promptly eliminated by electrocution in his chair (# 2 death) and disposed of into a hole in the floor beneath him. No. 2, in charge of SPECTRE's "most ambitious" NATO project, reported that his blackmail plan was a ransom demanded from NATO of $280 million/£100 million pounds - his assistant Count Lippe (Guy Doleman) was in the South of England making preparations, at a health clinic named Shrublands, near the NATO air base.
Bond was also at the Shrublands for a rest-cure, receiving a massage from pretty blonde physiotherapist Patricia Fearing (Molly Peters), where he met Lippe and noticed a small, suspicious red tattoo on his left arm (a possible Tong sign - the Red Dragon from Macao). Bond snuck into Lippe's room where he found nothing, but was spotted by face-bandaged neighbor Angelo Palazzi (Paul Stassino), reportedly recuperating from a car crash. During another appointment with Patricia, Bond forced an unappreciated kiss on her. She strapped him to a motorized traction table ("the rack") to stretch his spine (she joked: "First time I've felt really safe all day"). After she left, Count Lippe entered and turned the controls to the red danger zone to kill him. Patricia saved Bond after he passed out. She asked for him to keep silent about the incident - his price for cooperation was her seduction in the Turkish steam bath room (# 1 tryst). To retaliate, Bond sabotaged Lippe's steam-bath cabinet and trapped him inside. In his room, Bond rubbed a soft mink glove over the naked back of now sexually-liberated Patricia (# 2 tryst).
Meanwhile, NATO's French pilot Major Francois Derval (Paul Stassino) was being seduced by voluptuous, red-haired 'black widow' mistress - a SPECTRE agent named Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi). When he was leaving for the airbase, a look-alike Major Derval was outside his door, and sprayed him with lethal gamma gas (# 3 death). The look-alike was SPECTRE agent Angelo, who had undergone plastic surgeries over two years to face-replicate and impersonate Derval. He had also studied films, reports, and taken voice lessons. He greedily demanded (or extorted) $250,000 rather than $100,000 to complete the task. He appropriated Derval's watch, ID disk, and bag, and departed for a training sortie at the NATO air base. "Derval" commanded a routine NATO flight of a Vulcan jet bomber at 45,000 feet, armed with two atomic bombs (MOS type). As the noisy plane took off, Bond was still seducing Patricia with the mink glove, although they were interrupted when Bond left to snoop on Count Lippe - who was supervising the return of Derval's corpse (face-bandaged to look like Angelo) in an ambulance back to Shrublands (it was later claimed that "Angelo" died of a heart-attack). Bond unwrapped the corpse's facial bandages, and then avoided a second attempt on his life by one of Lippe's henchmen.
During the NATO flight, "Derval" took the co-pilot's seat, gassed five other crew members with the lethal gamma gas canister (while wearing a separate oxygen supply/mask) (# 4-8 deaths), and deliberately crash-landed the plane near the Bahamas in the Caribbean. Nearby, on his luxury hydrofoil yacht the Disco Volante (Flying Saucer), Emilio Largo ordered underwater lights switched on to guide the plane to its proper landing strip location, where it gently sank to the bottom. Wearing scuba gear, Largo swam to the submerged plane, and cut "Derval's" air-supply hose to drown him (# 9 death) (punishing him for his extortion demand), when he was trapped in his seat-belt. From an underwater hatch, three of Largo's henchmen took a submersible craft to the NATO jet to unload and transport the two massive thermonuclear weapons back to the yacht, and then covered the jet with a camouflage net to hide it. As the yacht returned to its base in the Bahamas, SPECTRE No. 1 ordered the execution of Count Lippe. Bond was summoned away (to London), and bid goodbye to Patricia, promising to reunite with her "another time, another place." As he drove off, he was followed by Lippe - SPECTRE assassin Fiona also rode behind them on a rocket-firing BSA Lightning motorcycle. She fired two deadly missiles at Lippe's car, which exploded and crashed, killing him (# 10 death), and then submerged her bike in a nearby lake.
In the British Secret Service conference room in an important briefing held by "M" (Bernard Lee), with nine 00- agents in attendance (including Bond), the group was told about recent troubling developments regarding SPECTRE's possession of two NATO bombs. A ransom of £100 million pounds sterling was demanded of the British government within seven days - otherwise, SPECTRE threatened to destroy an unspecified major city in either England or the United States (later revealed to be Miami). To signal their cooperation with the ransom, the Big Ben clock was to strike 7 times at 6 pm the following day. The problem was that there was no indication about where the Vulcan jet had crashed or landed. The mission, code-named "Thunderball," was to work with NATO, the CIA, and all allied intelligence units. In the briefing packet was a picture of Derval with his sister Dominique in Nassau, Bahamas. Bond was specifically assigned to Station C (Canada), although he requested that his assignment be changed to Nassau. Bond claimed that he saw the dead pilot Derval at Shrublands (although the situation was confused because Derval was also seen boarding the Vulcan), and he wanted to interrogate Derval's sister Dominique, presently in Nassau. With only four days to complete his mission, Bond quickly flew there.
While free-diving near Dominique "Domino" Derval (former Miss France Claudine Auger), Bond saved her from drowning when her flipper was caught in coral. Bond and his own local dive assistant, bikinied native Bahamian Paula Caplan (Martine Beswick), faked a conked-out motor and Bond asked Domino for a lift to Coral Harbor, where he invited her for lunch by the pool. He learned that she was the bored, love-starved mistress/kept woman ("niece") of a possessive "guardian" (Emilio Largo) who owned a yacht and an opulent estate on the island. He knew her nickname was "Domino" - observed on a bracelet on her ankle. At a party that evening in a casino, attended by Bond, Domino, and Largo, Bond challenged the villain to a game of cards (with raised stakes to 500 pounds) and won, then briefly shared a drink and dance with Domino, before Largo interrupted and invited Bond to dinner at Sunday noon at his private beachside villa-estate in Palmyra.
The next day, Bond was returning to his hotel room (#304), but avoided directly entering, and came through Paula's adjoining room (#306) instead. He listened to a tape recording, hidden in a hollowed-out Nassau Directory. It had recorded someone's entry into his room. With a silencer in his hand, he answered a knock on the door from CIA agent Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter), punched him in the stomach to quiet him before he said 007, and also roughly dealt with Largo's henchman Quist (Bill Cummings) - scalding him in his bathroom shower before sending the disarmed assassin back to his superior. At Palmyra, a disgusted Largo ordered Quist - after his failed mission - to be thrown into a swimming pool containing sharks (# 11 death). Bond met with local MI6 ally-contact Pinder (Earl Cameron) and was taken to a base of operations behind a marketplace, where "Q" (Desmond Llewelyn) provided him with the latest multi-purpose gadgets, many for underwater use. In approximately 55 hours, the British government was planning to drop the "blood money" ransom (off the coast of Burma) in the form of blue-white diamonds worth £100 million pounds.
At night, Bond donned scuba gear and swam under Largo's yacht -- where one of Largo's sentry-frogmen discovered him and fired a spear-gun. Largo watched Bond struggle underwater, after turning on lights and activating closed-circuit video cameras, and saw that Bond cut the man's air-hose. Largo ordered hand-grenades dropped on him as Bond was taking photos of the hull of the boat (with his infra-red camera). Bond was stunned, but escaped unharmed, and evaded a search-boat - letting them think he had been killed by its propeller. After he came ashore, he hitchhiked and was picked up by Fiona Volpe (wearing a ring with an Octopus symbol, similar to the one worn by Largo) in a light blue Mustang and speedily driven at 100 mph back to his Nassau hotel. The photos were developed at Pinder's base, revealing an underwater hatch beneath Largo's yacht. Bond guessed that Largo's entire operation was concealed underwater, and that the Vulcan plane was submerged. The next day (Sunday), a search by helicopter for the missing plane near Nassau was unfruitful. While shooting skeets at Largo's oceanside villa of Palmyra, Fiona vowed to assassinate Bond when the time was right: "I shall kill him." Later that day as a guest at Largo's villa for lunch, Bond was shown around and also shot skeets. Largo bragged about his pool with Golden Grotto sharks ("the most savage, the most dangerous"). Because he was busy, Largo also invited Domino to accompany Bond to the Junkanoo, the "local Mardi Gras" that evening, to keep him occupied.
Meanwhile, in her hotel room waiting for Bond, Paula was chloroformed and abducted by Largo's goons (and Fiona). The assassinatrix noticed Bond's photos of the yacht's hull. During the Junkanoo celebration that night, after learning that Paula had disappeared, Bond snuck away (Leiter kept Domino occupied) and infiltrated Palmyra, at the same time that Pinder had requested a power blackout to cut the electricity. He located Paula being questioned by Largo's silent, sadistic black-dressed henchman Vargas (Philip Locke) in an underground room. When Bond attempted to rescue her, he was too late - she had already heroically committed suicide by self-administering a cyanide capsule (# 12 death). As Bond fled, he shot one of Largo's men (# 13 death, # 2 Bond kill) to get the group to shoot at each other, and engaged in a fist-fight with one of the men. The two fell into a second swimming pool (Largo deployed the metal pool cover, and then opened a tunnel hatch to the other shark pool). Bond stabbed his opponent in the gut (his bloody wound soon attracted the hungry sharks and he was consumed) (# 14 death), and then swam through the tunnel to narrowly escape.
After contacting Pinder and being driven back to his hotel, Bond found Fiona naked in the bathtub of Paula's vacated room. After making love with the "wild" woman ("You should be locked up in a cage") (# 3 tryst), the two dressed up and planned to return to the all-night Junkanoo celebration. However, Fiona (revealing her true identity as Largo's assassin) betrayed Bond and held a gun on him, to escort him to Largo's presence with support from other thugs. But Bond escaped from their car when they were held up in festival traffic, although wounded in the lower right leg as he ran into the crowd. He was chased through a carnival parade by five henchmen, and Fiona caught up with him at the open-air Kiss Kiss Club where patrons were being entertained by a female fire-dancer, and a bongo-band played. As Fiona danced with Bond and asked him to surrender, while steering him closer to an assassin, she was shot in the back and killed by her own bodyguard (with a bullet meant for him) (# 15 death).
With only about 15 hours until the drop of the ransom, Bond took another helicopter search with Felix Leiter for the submerged plane, spotting something at a shark-infested location called the Golden Grotto. One shark was shot to distract the other sharks, as Bond dove down with one scuba tank to investigate. Inside the downed plane, he found the bodies of the dead crew members, including "Derval" (Angelo, the counterfeit NATO pilot). Bond engaged in a second dive with Domino, an opportunity to become more intimate with her underwater (# 4 tryst) although discreetly hidden when they ducked behind some coral and bubbles exploded to the surface. Later he commented: "I hope we didn't frighten the fish" before kissing her. She stepped on poisonous sea egg spines as they came ashore, and after treating her, he delivered the news of her dead brother Francois, and offered his dog-tag and watch: "It's a long story and it involves your friend, Largo...Largo had your brother murdered, or it was on his orders." As Bond asked for her help and trust, he explained how hundreds of thousands of people might die. He admitted he didn't know when the bombs would be loaded on the Disco Volante, and wanted her to detect them with his geiger counter gadget. Bond turned and shot Vargas (pointing a gun-silencer his direction) in the stomach with a harpoon gun, impaling him to a palm tree (# 16 death, # 3 Bond kill) ("I think he got the point").
As she was leaving, Domino told Bond about a canal, a bridge, and a flight of steps that led into the ocean, on the far side of Palmyra - a perfect entry-point that Bond soon swam to. He noticed SPECTRE diving gear stashed there, swallowed a homing device, and awaited darkness. When Largo's army of frogmen arrived, Bond knocked one of them out, stole his scuba gear, and swam with the group out to the yacht, where Largo ordered: "Once we pick up the merchandise, head for our target area, Miami." Their plan was to retrieve the bombs from a hidden undersea cave compartment with the submersible, and then threaten to detonate one of the bombs at a wreck near Miami. During the retrieval process, Bond's cover was blown (he was recognized by Largo), and he was forced to kill one frogman (# 17 death, # 4 Bond kill). Trapped and stranded inside the underwater cave, Bond looked for an exit and emerged deep in an island cavern. Back onboard the yacht, Largo caught Domino using the geiger counter "toy" given to her by Bond and threatened: "There is no escape for you." He menaced her with torture unless she revealed the extent of Bond's knowledge, but was called away to activate the bombs. Onboard a Coast Guard search helicopter, Leiter used Bond's homing device signal to locate him. Bond also indicated his exact whereabouts with a red flare gun. A cable was lowered to him for rescue. Bond warned that Largo's target was Miami, and that one bomb was being transferred from the yacht to a wreck off Fowley Point.
With support from the CIA and the US Coast Guard aqua-divers in red (parachuting from planes into the waters around Miami), an intensely fierce underwater battle was fought near the wreck against Largo's frogmen-henchmen (in black) (unknown number of deaths). Bond joined the Coast Guard divers, wearing an underwater jet pack propulsion unit (with high-velocity exploding spear-heads) strapped to his oxygen tanks. During the bloody struggle, he cut the air-hoses of a few frogmen and also speared one of them (# 18 death, # 5 Bond kill). Bond then removed his tanks, used his re-breather device, and detonated an explosive canister to kill three more pursuing henchmen within the wreck (# 19-21 deaths, # 6-8 Bond kills), and then helped to turn the tide in the battle. Blood in the water attracted sharks to the scene, as Largo's men were routed and then surrendered. When Largo swam away with two of his remaining men, Bond killed one of them with a harpoon-gun (# 22 death, # 9 Bond kill), and pursued an escaping Largo to his yacht. Underwater, Bond held on as the Disco Volante weighed anchor (with one stolen disarmed atomic bomb still onboard), but was under attack by cannon-fire from the US Navy. Largo created a smoke screen and jettisoned his yacht's rear cocoon to increase the speed of the separate hydrofoil. The cocoon section of the yacht, with a machine gun and deck cannon, exploded and killed all onboard (many deaths, number unknown).
During a life-and-death hand-to-hand struggle between Bond, three crew-members, and Largo in the hydrofoil's cabin, Bond threw one crew-member overboard, and knocked the other two unconscious. He was saved from being shot by Largo, when Domino (who had changed allegiances), was freed in her cabin by Kutze (who had disarmed the bombs), appeared from below deck, and harpooned him in the back with a spear (# 23 death). (Domino: "I'm glad I killed him." Bond (relieved): "You're glad?"). With Largo death-locked to the jammed steering, they jumped overboard to escape from the yacht's explosion when it ran aground and struck a reef (# 24-25 deaths, # 10-11 Bond kills). Kutze was left at sea with a life preserver, while in a yellow raft, Bond inflated a red balloon tied to a rope that was snagged by a US Navy Boeing B-17 plane with a skyhook, and the two held onto each other during their rescue.
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
The fourth film in the series. This was director Terence Young's third and final direction of a Bond film. (He did not direct the third film, Goldfinger (1964).)
The code name for the MI6 mission, Thunderball, was also the film's title.
This was originally intended to be the first Bond film but a series of legal disputes delayed its release.
This was the first James Bond film shot in wide-screen Panavision.
The film's remake was Never Say Never Again (1983), one of the unofficial James Bond films. However, Sean Connery portrayed Bond in the film - it was his seventh and final appearance on the screen as the character. He claimed it was his favorite 007 performance.
This was the only Bond film in which all nine 00- agents appeared together in London, England, where M summoned them to a briefing about SPECTRE's plot.
Molly Peters (as Patricia Fearing) was the first Bond girl to appear nude (in silhouette) - in the steambath scene. And Martine Beswick, as Paula Caplan was the first Bond girl to appear in two Bond girls as different characters (she was fighting gypsy girl Zora in From Russia With Love (1963)).
With an Academy Award win, the second (and last win, to date) for Best Special Visual Effects.
With a production budget of $9 million, and gross revenue of $63.6 million (domestic) and $141 million (worldwide).
Thunderball had the highest domestic box-office earnings of the Bond films (to date) - when adjusted for inflation. Its domestic unadjusted gross of $63.6 million was $600 million when adjusted. Goldfinger (1964) was a distant second with $51 million (and $531.7 million adjusted).
Set-pieces: the chase scene through the carnival, and the spectacular and climactic underwater battle.
Bond Villains: Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), Count Lippe (Guy Doleman), Angelo Palazzi (Paul Stassino), Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), Ladislav Kutze (George Pravda), Quist (Bill Cummings), Vargas (Philip Locke)
Bond Girls: Patricia Fearing (Molly Peters), Dominique ("Domino") Derval (Claudine Auger), Paula Caplan (Martine Beswick)
Number of Love-Making Encounters: 4
Film Locales: Paris, France, Shrublands Health Farm/Clinic and nearby NATO airbase in south of England, London, England, Nassau, the Bahamas and other surrounding islands, Miami, Florida
Gadgets: a Bell Textron jet pack rocket belt, devices in Bond's Aston Martin, Angelo's/"Derval's" separate oxygen supply and gamma gas canister, Largo's Disco Volante (with an underwater hatch, hidden video cameras) and his yellow submersible submarine, a modified waterproof (underwater) Rolex watch with geiger counter, an underwater infra-red camera for nighttime photos, a miniature pistol that fired distress signal flares (bright red), a miniature (pocket-sized) underwater re-breather device good for four minutes, a harmless radio-active homing device in the shape of a pill, an underwater jet pack propulsion unit with exploding, high-velocity spearheads, a sky-hook
Vehicles: silver Aston Martin DB5 (with rear armor shield, and rear-firing, high-pressure water cannon-sprayer), Vulcan jet, hydrofoil Disco Volante, gold BSA Lightning Motorcycle (with missiles), Domino's Boehler Turbocraft dive boat, Volpe's light blue Mustang, Bell helicopter, a US Coast Guard helicopter, a US Navy Boeing B-17 plane
Number of Deaths (Bond Kills): 25 (11)
Also Worth Your Attention...
Bond Regular: Miss Moneypenny
Bond Villain: Emilio Largo, or SPECTRE No. 2
Bond Villain: Fiona Volpe
Bond Girl: Dominique
Bond Girl: Patricia Fearing
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office