Sunday, November 29, 2009

Does THUNDERBALL still hold up?

You know it’s the holiday season when there are James Bond marathons on every cable network except Oxygen. Caught one I hadn’t seen in years – THUNDERBALL from 1965. I saw it originally at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on the big BIG screen. I remember loving it at the time. From the stirring THUNDERBALL theme sung by Tom Jones I was hooked. So I wondered, did it hold up after all these years?

Well, the theme song sure does. And there’s no question that Sean Connery was the best Bond. There is just a level of insouciance in Connery’s Bond that none of his successors had – even light-comedy master Roger Moore never had that twinkle. Connery’s Bond enjoyed the gig, and why not? He sure got laid more than the later Bonds. Too bad it was in the 60s though and most of these women had helmet hair and raccoon make-up.

Note to PLAYBOY magazine: NEVER do another layout showing Bond girls as they are today. No one wants to see Octapussy as octogenarian.

The dialogue, which seemed so sparkling at the time, now comes off as cringeworthy.

Bond Girl: What sharp eyes you’ve got.
Bond: Wait til’ you get to my teeth.

Yikes! Since when did Bob Hope become a British Secret Agent?

And the sensibility was soooo sexist. Women were objects, easy, submissive, disposable, or evil. In the world of James Bond, Gloria Steinem is as much a super villain as Ernst Blowfeld.

The chief baddie in THUNDERBALL is Emilio Largo (these guys never have names like Mike or Skip) and you know he’s evil because he has a black patch over one eye. In typical Bond fashion, when he’s not trying to kill 007 he’s inviting him to lunch (women always refer to him as “James”, super villains call him “Mr. Bond”, M always uses “007”, and U.S. military officers call him “Jimbo”.). When I say they try to kill Bond, that of course means through some elaborate contraption only Wile E. Coyote would purchase instead of just taking out a gun and shooting his sorry ass.

As a kid I never let plot holes get in the way of a good James Bond yarn. I remember first seeing THUNDERBALL and having no idea what the hell was going on? Now someone is trying to kill him in his hotel room, now he’s taking pictures of a boat and dodging hand grenades, now he’s in a car chase and the evil Spectre woman blows up the car that’s trying to off him, now he eludes four gunmen during a big Junkanoo celebration and the next morning just strolls through town unnoticed, now he’s in a tuxedo, now he’s in an underwater battle, now he’s shot and the next day he’s completely healed. What the fuck??!!

A plane on a routine training mission has two atomic bombs on board and takes off from a NATO base conveniently located right next door to the health spa where James just happens to be staying at the time. The plane is hijacked and lands in the shallow water outside of Nassau. It can land in water without giant pieces splintering off? Really? There’s no radar to track this? And no one in Nassau sees or hears a fighter plane land in the ocean just off the coast? Now scuba divers move the bombs. On the side of one hydrogen bomb it says (and this is absolutely true, you can see for yourself) “handle like eggs”.

But I didn’t care.

Other minor story points didn’t bother me either like how do super villains amass large armies and trained scuba divers? How clueless are the British Intelligence and CIA that they have no knowledge of 200 henchmen being recruited? And where do all these people sleep? How do secret compounds with launch facilities large enough accommodate Gemini rockets get built incognito? If Spectre is a secret society why do their agents wear rings that have its logo?

These issues didn’t concern me then and they still don’t. In later movies he goes to the moon and shit and that crossed a line but a yacht carrying one of the atomic bombs crashes into the shore and explodes and doesn’t set off a nuclear explosion that wipes out three million people – sure, why quibble?

THUNDERBALL did hold up in the sense that it was still fun to watch and now because of all the cheese there were way more laughs then when I first saw it in 1965.

And now for an unexpected treat. I went to YouTube to see if it had the opening titles so I could play Tom Jones’ theme for you. And I discovered this – an alternate theme, written and performed by Johnny Cash. I guess no one told the Man in Black that THUNDERBALL wasn’t a Western. You won’t believe this.

First -- Tom Jones


And now put on your spurs. Johnny Cash.

58 comments:

Dan-Missouri said...

I know the Chinese Theatre has gone through several name changes but isn't it, wasn't it, Grauman's Chinese Theatre?

Anonymous said...

I love Mr Cash, but that was so bad I have to question it's authenticity.

D. McEwan said...

Thunderball, which i see pretty much annually, has big problems. A big one is that the big action climax takes place underwater, so it's like it's in slow motion.

Even as a kid, I thought it was stupid for the SPECTRE agents to all have the SPECTRE symbol on tattoos and signet rings, everything but "I work for SPECTRE" T-shirts.

That tiny little air tank Bond uses when he's tossed into the pool with sharks, instead of just being shot, that would have, at most, one lungfull of air, not "ten minutes," like Q tells him. The secret service actually contacted the movie makers about where they could get those, and the film makers had to tell the boobs "It's just a prop. It doesn't actually work."

For Bond's Astin Martin to shoot out all that water from the rear, it would have to have a water tank larger than the car itself, and huge pumps to shoot it out, and it would have made the car weigh a ton.

They wanted Bond to fly in the rocket pack without a helmet, Bond is too cool for a helmet, but the only stuntman qualified to actually fly in it wisely refused to do it without a helmet.

Blofeld used that "I'm going to kill you - NO! SURPRISE! I'm killing the guy next to you!" trick in From Russia With Love also. You think they'd get wise to it.

Actually, in the 1960s, the radar would not have been able to track the plane when it was flying low enough. The water landing? Well, you'd have to be a really good pilot! That guy who landed that airbus on the Hudson might manage it.

After blowing up the car with the rockets from the motorcycle, why does the evil woman dump the motorcycle into the lake? And how does she get home from there? Walk? Too bad she no longer has a motorcycle.

The original opening credits song, MR KISS KISS BANG BANG, was recorded for the film by Shirley Bassey. It was dumped and replaced when someone said, "It's a title song. Why isn't the title in the song?" The DVD allows you to play either during the opening credits.

You can hear Tom Jones literally run out of breath and fall off the pitch on the last note of the title song, held FOREVER!

D. McEwan said...

(Part 2)

You think the sexism in the 1960s Bond films is dated, try re-reading the books! I re-read several of the novels two years ago. They are fun, and move fast, and are well-written, but oooooh boy, was Ian Fleming ever a sexist, homophobic, world-class snob. (Fleming was the step-cousin of Sir Christopher Lee. He wanted either Lee or his neighbor, Sir Noel Coward, to play Dr. No. Lee would have been good. Coward's reply to the role offer was "Play Dr. No? No, no, no.")

I met Shirley Eaton, the golden girl from Goldfinger about two years ago. She's very sweet, and looks about 90. Golden Great-Grandmother.

Even as a kid, the question of where SPECTRE got their armies of henchmen always bothered me also. Do they put ads out in the classifieds?

There is a line in the film about the detonater being removed from the bomb by the little Peter Lorre-like scientist just before the boat crashes, so actually, the H-bomb not going off is not a gaffe.

When Bond and the girl get whisked off into the air at the end, how does that plane land again without killing them?

Speaking of how do the underground lairs get built, how did they secretly hollow out a volcano and build a rocket launching center inside it in Japan secretly in You Only Live Twice?

My favorite makes-no-sense Bond bit is in Goldfinger. Goldfinger goes to elaborate lengths to explain his plan to the gangsters 5 seconds before gassing them to death. Why bother to explain it to them? And the one gangster who wants his money in gold now (Named "Solo," and yes, that is where Napoleon Solo got his name from. Fleming consulted on Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s pilot, and he suggested the name.), is shot in a car, the car is compacted, the compacted car (somehow not dripping pints of blood), is brought back, and Goldfinger says "I must now extract my gold from Mr. Solo."

WHY didn't Goldfinger just shoot him in his house, and save himself all that pointless trouble?

So why do I rewatch Thunderball periodically? 2 reasons:

1. My dear friend Martine Beswicke (who still looks spectacular. Playboy is welcome to run a how-she-looks-now shot of Martine.) plays "Paula," Bond's assistant who gets murdered. She's also in From Russia With Love and in the opening credits of Dr. No.

2. Connery has more shirtless screentime in this one than in any other Bond film, and he was at his physical height of perfection. (He was 35 when it was shot.)

"And he strikes! da da da da da dah! like Thunnnnnnderbaaaaalllllll!"

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Ken...
They say you learn something new every day. Well, this is mine for today. I never knew about the alternate theme song for the movie. Thanks! Gee, do you think it would have made the "Boss 30"?

rob! said...

I think the best Bond is whichever one you grew up with.

Intellectually, I know Connery is probably the best, but I watch Roger Moore ones A LOT more, because he was MY Bond.

My Dad took me to see all the Bonds from the late 70s to the early 80s, and those are still my favorite of all the movies, too.

David B said...

The one thing that always made me wonder about the Bond films was why do you go to the trouble and expense of outfitting your secret army? And where does one go to purchase secret army uniforms in a variety of sizes?

Chazz said...

How do villains amass an army?

I think they usually start out as oil men. Sometimes they become vice president of the US and use taxes to pay for the mercenary army a la Blackwater. They make the money off of providing the catering a la Haliburton for the wars they start based on falsified evidence. You know, if you wrote that in fiction a few years ago, you'd be laughed off for an outlandish plot.

Rick said...

Sean Connery was perfectly cast.

Roger Moore never seemed believable to me as 007 because Moore lacked the sinister edge of an assassin--which after all is what the double 00_ classification signified.

Only Timothy Dalton also had that ruthless side Connery did, but Dalton's persona is essentially grim and humorless. Which didn't work either...

charlotte said...

I think maybe for younger people who've seen the Austin Powers movies FIRST, it's impossible to take the old Bond movies at all seriously, Sean Connery or not. Even he doesn't have enough coolness factor to offset the camp. (A bad guy with an eye patch? For real? ;)

Question for next Friday: I've been hearing this as a rumor for decades, that there was a C storyline written into every episode of M*A*S*H specifically so that it could be cleanly cut out to shorten the episodes for syndication without affecting the A and B storylines. People have been telling me my whole life, big a M*A*S*H fan as I am, that there are actually whole, complete storylines I've never seen because I've only ever watched the show in reruns. Is this true, Ken? I realize that for syndication, random scenes have been chopped out, entrances and exits trimmed, jokes hacked out, etc., so in that way I have indeed missed seeing hours of footage from the original airings, adding up the cut bits and pieces. But were entire C storylines really originally there, then pulled out cleanly for reruns? (And if so, why did they still cut so much other stuff too then? I know, I know. More commercials.)

Tom K Mason said...

Despite their slow pace (lots of scenes of guys walking to their cars, going down staircases), plot holes and other nonsensical peculiarities, I love the Connery Bonds. In Thunderball (like in many of the others), he doesn't really "solve" anything - he spends a lot of time walking around snooping, but can't really put it all together. Then he goes to his default plan - "I can't figure out what's going on, but I bet if I seduce the villain's hot girlfriend who has low self esteem, he'll get mad enough to tell me his plan while he's trying to kill me while I wait for my back-up squad of not-very-good fighting scuba soldiers to show up." And I watch it at least once a year.

wv: Undbriz, the maker of fine undergarments for moyels.

dmizzo said...

Hey Ken,
Nukes don't detonate if the boat carrying them crashes. The chain-reaction requires a very specific set of implosion charges to initiate. In fact, you can use a smaller explosion to disarm a nuke. So at least that part was right. That woman's hair, however, is very, very wrong.

Jim said...

Hi Ken,
That's not Tom Jones.

D. McEwan said...

Jim,
Tom Jones sings THUNDERBALL over the opening credits of THUNDERBALL.

Rob, you're probably right that you are stuck favoring whoever was Bond when you were first encountering them, not unlike one's favorite DOCTOR WHO, which I why I must pity all whose first Bond was Roger Moore, because he SUCKED as Bond, and his Bond movies are Godawful.

I saw DR NO on it's initial release, the day after my 13th birthday, and by the time FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE came out, I had read all of the books then out. When your first Bond is primarily the guy in the books, you will NEVER accept Roger Moore, because he is NOT the guy Ian Fleming was writng about. He was terrible! Even George Lazenby was a better Bond than Roger Moore.

So my sympathies.

WV: consp: You were writing "conspiracy," but THEY got you before you finished. (See: "Copper, the murderer's name is aaaaaaaa" THUD.)

Jim said...

As D. McEwan says, the books are a great laugh with some really odd touches. If you want sophistication then look no further than Casino Royale and its "grated hard boiled egg, the white in one dish and the yolk in another"

John Rosenfelder said...

Thunderball sure seems sloppy when you break it down. I would say it holds up because Domino is one of the more appealing Bond girls.

kris said...

@D. McEwan

"When Bond and the girl get whisked off into the air at the end, how does that plane land again without killing them?"

Actually that is real recovery technique developed by the CIA to recover agents where you couldn't land. The person(s) lifted up are then hauled into the plane via the rear cargo doors.

Brian Phillips said...

Mr. Levine, the Johnny Cash song was composed to close the first act of Thunderball, which is the reason for the elaborate choreography. The turkey references are...

Hmm.

Maybe I shouldn't read too many of these blog entries at one sitting.

Gmajor said...

[sarcasm]

Yes, well, as we all know, the James Bond book and film series is a realistic, accurate portrayal of the activities of MI-6.

[/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

I would say it holds up because Domino is one of the more appealing Bond girls.

Oh my, yes...

mrswing said...

Hm. I still think 'Wait until you get to my teeth' is funny - especially because Connery's delivery is pitch perfect.

Despite all of its flaws, I love Thunderball to death. Real-world logic doesn't really matter that much in the Connery Bond world - it all adds up to a fictional universe which is consistent with itself. One of the problems of the latter-day Bonds (from Goldeneye right up to now) is that they try to combine a greater sense of 'real' reality with the hijinks which form the essence of the Bond series. The resulting schizophrenia makes these movies so much less 'believable', I find, and just... 'not-Bond'.

rob! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rob! said...

why I must pity all whose first Bond was Roger Moore, because he SUCKED as Bond, and his Bond movies are Godawful.

Aw, come on! Could Roger Moore have been that bad as Bond if he managed to carry the franchise for almost 15 years? (longer than anyone else, btw)

Sure, the Roger Moore Bonds got more caught up in the trend of the moment, but I staunchly defend Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Man With the Golden Gun, and For Your Eyes Only as top-flight Bond films.

On top of that, Roger Moore's Bond never had to make a lame crack about the Beatles! Every time I hear Connery's Bond say line, it makes me think Bond is going to yell at me to get off his lawn.

rob! said...

Sorry--that top paragraph should've been in quotes.

thomas tucker said...

mrswing is right- the Connery Bond movies work because they are fantasy. Interestingly, the one that is more"realistic" is the one that most people prefer the least among the first four- From Russia With Love, although I think that is an excellent movie.
The fight scene on the train in From Russia is actually one of the best scenes ever fimed in a movie.

Corinne said...

Funny but when I hear Johnny Cash singing "Thunderball" it sounds like he's singing about a train...

Chris L said...

Re: D. McEwan
A friend recently gave me a copy of Casino Royale. You weren't kidding - Bond actively hates women!

My favorite Bond videos:

Ringo Starr's Goldfinger theme
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd8fOouKiLc

Alan Partridge narrates The Spy Who Loved me
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrp0wJsXNEA

Mark said...

I remember an interview with composer John Barry, where it was pointed out that the words to "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball" make no sense. The singers told him the same thing at the time. He nodded and instructed them to sing the hell out of it with perfect conviction. It was the only way to get those crazy songs to work.

I can think of only one theme—besides the numerous Bond pastiches—that go that far over the top: the Perry Mason theme by Fred Steiner. I'm sure there are others.

Anonymous said...

Some of the phrases in that song sound like Tom Jones and others don't. This must have been an outtake, because I can't believe they would have left that awful last note in for the final. Not to mention the "oh yeah" after that.

Max Clarke said...

Didn't Largo at the card table wear a button on his tux, "Have You Enrolled In The SPECTRE 401K Plan Yet?"

My favorite 007 movie, it holds up quite well. The film work was great, this may have been the Bond movie that got the Oscar for it, the John Barry soundtrack still sounds good, and the hi-tech gadgets still impress. Even today, the jet backpack which 007 flies from the chateau is exciting.

Also, the recently remastered DVDs of the Bond series look and sound great, better than any of the movies did in a theater.

When the early Bond movies were released, the Cold War was on, so the movies carried the emotion of that period, making them even more exciting. Time has diminished that overlay of feeling, but I admire the movies now as comedies more than action/drama. Still fun to watch, though.

An easter egg from Thunderball: when Largo parks his car illegally before the big SPECTRE meeting, he's driving a Ford Thunderbird, a subtle reference to Thunderball.

Paul said...

Since you now have a Blu-ray player, you should buy one of the old Bond movies in HD. It's truly mind blowing how well they restored it.

J.J. said...

Didn't George W play Cash's version of Thunderball when he... umm... (okay he pretended he was John Wayne and sent troups, but still...) invaded Iraq? I mean I distinctly remember whenever George gave a speech about leading Iraq to Democracy Land and Freedom, he mumbled something about being "...The Mighty Thunderball."

CrackerJacker said...

He went to the moon? Really? I remember him getting as far as some sort of Nazi gay bar in "Moonraker", and I think he was on the set of the moon in "Diamonds Are Forever", but not the actual moon.

Please, someone tell me or Ken which of us is right?

JenHartNSoul said...

Hi, Ken. I love your style.

Wanted to chime in with Charlotte and let you know I'd be interested in your answer to M*A*S*H's C plots. I'm part of of the generation whose first time seeing M*A*S*H was seeing them at 10pm after Friends/Frasier, but I love the show and love reading anything you write about it.

Bill Weinberger said...

To listen to the REAL Tom Jones Thunderball, go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmOnKmtiiH0

tb said...

Octopussy, isn't that when he was in the space shuttle?
Anyway. I too only really remember this from when I saw it as a kid. My main memory is the exciting underwater fight scene, and then Bond emerges onshore, unzips his scuba suit and - BAM!- has a tux on underneath! I thought "this is the coolest dude ever!" Oh and as for poor Roger Moore - he had to deal with the worst Bond girl ever - Grace Jones!

D. McEwan said...

rob! said...
Aw, come on! Could Roger Moore have been that bad as Bond if he managed to carry the franchise for almost 15 years? (longer than anyone else, btw)


They were successful but they sucked. And Moore did 7 Bond films, as did Connery, so he doesn't get a "most Bonds" award.

I staunchly defend Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Man With the Golden Gun, and For Your Eyes Only as top-flight Bond films.

Then you don't know a good Bond from a bad one. Of those, only For Your eyes Only is even romotely any good. The others are close to unwatchable. It's true Moore didn't make the admittedly lame Beatles joke, but ALL of Moore's quips were lame! And he had a way of kissing that made my skin crawl.

Terrible, terrible movies. Absolute crap.

Max Clarke said...
My favorite 007 movie, it holds up quite well. The film work was great, this may have been the Bond movie that got the Oscar for it,


The only Oscar won by Thunderball was for special effects.

Largo parks his car illegally before the big SPECTRE meeting, he's driving a Ford Thunderbird, a subtle reference to Thunderball.

And not-so-subtle product placement. Believe me, Ford paid for that, and supplied the car. Odd placement though: "Supervillains out to kill you always drive a FORD!" Largo: "I would never try to extort Western Civilization in anything but a Ford."

D. McEwan said...

tb said...
Octopussy, isn't that when he was in the space shuttle?


The space shuttle one was Moonraker.

The competition for Worst Bond Girl Ever is not a gimme for Grace Jones. Tanya Roberts has a claim on that title, as does Lois Chiles, and Denise Richards.

More interesting, who is the BEST Bond Girl Ever? I vote for Dame Diana Rigg, with a personal love for Martine Beswicke, but others will prefer Ursula Andress, or even others. Women who had to kiss Roger Moore should have gotten extra pay.

Jim said...

If you think that Roger Moore was a bad kisser then you should sit through some of the French OSS 117 movies from the sixties. OK Kerwin Mathews had some sort of an excuse in that in real life he was a fully signed up member of the other team, but then again he was meant to be an actor, wasn't he. See him in, erm, action here from about 2 mins in, in the trailer for Banco a Bangkok.

VP81955 said...

What's the most underrated Bond theme song? (And the quality, or lack thereof, of the movie it came from has nothing to do with it.)

I'd select "All-Time High" by Rita Coolidge. Wonderful melody; it would've been interesting to hear a Phil Spector-produced version of it. (Imagine a Hal Blaine drumbeat riding along on the verse.)

KEN LEVINE said...

Best underrated Bond song: MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN by Lulu.

scooter said...

Just to clarify, Thunderball's original title track, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was sung by Dionne Warwick. (Yup.)

And Luciana Paluzzi has to rate as one of the best women of the entire Bond series. Along with Claudine Auger, she just keeps making me watch this silly, wonderful movie.

D. McEwan said...

scooter said...
Just to clarify, Thunderball's original title track, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was sung by Dionne Warwick. (Yup.)

And Luciana Paluzzi has to rate as one of the best women of the entire Bond series.


You are right, and I stand corrected. It was indeed Dionne Warwick, and Luciana Paluzzi was also certainly one of the best Bond women, and one who had sense enough to know that the bad girl was a better part than the heroine. Martine introduced me to Luciana last year, and she has aged very well indeed. You might say 20 years has passed but not 40. (I'm not such a fan of Claudine Auger. Pretty? Definitely, but about as much personality as, well, Dianela Bianchi in From Russia With Love.

And I thnk I have a winner for the Worst Bond Girl Ever title: Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb! (Not that she isn't great in the movie!) Ilse Steppat in On Her Majesty's Secret Service was quite the gorgon too, but she was Blofeld's girlfriend, and just whom he deserved.

Most underrated Bond title song? I rather like You Only Live Twice. Awfully pretty melody.

Jim, Kerwin Matthews could have kissed me any time he liked. I had such a youthful crush on his Sinbad, and I was delighted to learn he batted on my team.

Anonymous said...

CrackerJacker:

James Bond stole the moon buggy prototype from the moon landing simulation stage at Blofeld's secret weapons research lab in the Nevada desert.

thomas tucker said...

I agree- You Only Live Twice is a wonderful title song with an interesting intro, and one of the few excellent performances by Nancy Sinatra.
Regarding the books- as thrillers, I think they hold up extremely well, and are alwasy worth re-reading. Plus, I always loved the cover art for the Signet paperback versions of the late 50's and early 60's. I don't buy that Fleming was misogynistic but he definitely was a man of his time.

VP81955 said...

Jim, Kerwin Matthews could have kissed me any time he liked. I had such a youthful crush on his Sinbad, and I was delighted to learn he batted on my team.

In other words, Mrs. Gulliver was a beard? Jeez, I'm surprised she didn't ditch him for some big Brobdingnagian man (wait -- that's redundant). and leave Lemuel in the hands of Glumdalclitch (literally).

wv: purence -- forget the "eight great tomatoes" -- this is what makes Contadina tomato puree so special.

Sean said...

Despite being a child of the late-70s/early 80s, I've always embraced Connery as "my Bond." The main reason for that was never missing the ABC Sunday Night Movie airings of those early Bonds. I'll even cop to a love the worst of the Connery Bonds (Diamonds Are Forever really falls apart as soon as they find Jimmy Dean.)

Having been a toy collector, Thunderball holds the dubious distinction of being the toy license that killed the makers of the Erector Set. Gilbert had the master license and made 007 action figures in the GI Joe scale, mini figurines based on both Tunderball and Goldfinger and a slot car set up that was so poorly wired, the number of returns after the Christmas of 1965 drove them into bankruptcy.

Thunderball is still fun, but as I get older I find myself warming to From Russia With Love as the one that holds up the best. Jill St. John remains my favorite Bond Girl despite the cheesiest (non-sexual) name ever used. Cheesiest Bond Girl Name honors I would give to "Plenty O'Toole." ("Named after your father no doubt.") It's like after getting away with Pussy Galore, Fleming stopped even trying to be subtile.

Anonymous said...

Lazenby had the distinct advantage of being the only Bond to have an emotional arc in his film. Scriptwise, he's in the best film. Performancewise...

VW: uncestro. Something unspeakable done by your Italian mother's brother...

thomas tucker said...

True that, regarding OHMSS.
Just imagine if Connery had played Bond in that movie!
wv: mingary- if the Ming dynasty had invaded Hungary

darms said...

I still enjoy watching Thunderball despite the story's shortcomings & sexist devices, it's a product of the mid-60's & certainly looks it. An improvement by the movie over the book is we don't see Largo torturing Domino by burning her w/cigarettes.

But I can think of one instance in the Bond canon that really pisses me off, some sexist garbage that really goes way too far & keeps me from appreciating the movie in question. That moment is in Goldfinger wherein Mr. Bond rapes Ms. Pussy Galore who then proceeds to change sides and helps Mr. Bond defeat the villain. In the real world I would think Mr. Bond's assault would push her even farther on Goldfinger's side, but hey, it's the movies and so rape must be a 'good thing', right?

D. McEwan said...

"VP81955 said...
In other words, Mrs. Gulliver was a
beard?"

Yup. And you may remember that Mrs. Sinbad was really Mrs. Bing Crosby.

If Gulliver had been a size queen, he'd have stayed in Brobdingnag, but instead, when Kerwin retired from acting, he settled down with his long-time boyfriend in San Francisco, and sold high-end antiques for the rest of his life. Lovely, sweet man, adored by all who knew him.

Sean said...
I'll even cop to a love the worst of the Connery Bonds (Diamonds Are Forever really falls apart as soon as they find Jimmy Dean.)


Oh Sean, Diamonds are Forever falls apart well before Jimmy Dean shows up. I'd vote for the moment that Jill St. John shows up, but a solid case can be made for it jumping the shark (Something Bond did literally in several of the films) as soon as the rather nice title somg concludes.

But is Diamonds are Forever the worst Connery Bond film? Strong cases can be made for You Only Live Twice and Never Say Never Again. However, I vote with you for Diamonds are Forever, despite its having my favorite Blofeld.

Cheesiest Bond Girl Name? That has to be Lois Chiles's Holly Goodhead. Haering the poor villain try to sound digified and menacing when repeatedly having to refer to "Dr. Goodhead," makes one very embarassed for him. Although the name is more believable than Lois Chiles having a PhD. And even then, Denise Richards as anuclear physicist was more unbeleiavble than any Bond film plotline. (My brother works with Lana Wood, and she is charming and still lovely.)

Anonymous said...
Lazenby had the distinct advantage of being the only Bond to have an emotional arc in his film. Scriptwise, he's in the best film.


This was true up to the recent Casino Royale. Daniel Craig gets an emotional arc to play also, and I'd put the screenplay of Casino Royale up against On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

darms said...
But I can think of one instance in the Bond canon that really pisses me off, some sexist garbage that really goes way too far & keeps me from appreciating the movie in question. That moment is in Goldfinger wherein Mr. Bond rapes Ms. Pussy Galore who then proceeds to change sides.


Pure Ian Fleming. His sick conviction that all a lesbian needed to turn straight was a good screwing by a masculine man. By Fleming's wlidly misogynistic, homophobic standards, Bond ws doing ehr a favor, and giving ehr what she didn't know she wanted.

Bond: "I was told you didn't like men."

Pussy: "I never met a real man before."

Yup. It's pretty grossly offensive. In the novel Goldfinger Fleming goes off on a tangent on how Women's Liberation had caused an epidemic of "sexually-confused" men and women, i.e., gay men and lesbians.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

One thing that holds up well is that great poster by Bob McGinnis.

I'm a Connery fan, too, but Ian Fleming hated him in the role.

Anyone who watches a Bond movie for the plot would go to Wal-Mart for the pretty girls. The action, the gimmicks, and the sex are the attractions in those movies.

WV: ulping. A drinking speed faster than gulping.

Matt Patton said...

A few notes about THUNDERBALL:

The backstory to this film is hilarious--it started out as the pilot for a James Bond television series that Fleming cooked up with a couple of writers, one of whom, Kevin McClory, eventually took Fleming to court after he turned their script into a novel. He wound up with a producer's credit and the film rights to the story. He was the executive producer of the remake, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN--which I've always preferred.

Shirley Bassey didn't record "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" until the 80's or 90's. It's a great recording too. The song was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick (this was the music that Maurice Binder created the credit sequence around). It was only dropped at the last minute because the producers thought that the title song needed the title of the film in it.

I've always hated the scene where Bond all but rapes the nurse at the health farm after she saves him from the spine-stretching doohickey. The Bond films were pretty sexist in those days, but this really pushed the limit.

Martine Beswick deserved a lot more screen time than she got. She's so sharp and funny in the few scenes she does have that it really was a loss when her character got killed off.

I saw THE PARALLAX VIEW again recently, and it struck me how much George Jenkins set for the board room of the SuperEvil Parallax Corporation owed to Ken Adams' set for the Spectre board room. For that matter, Gordon Willis' photography in those scenes owes a lot to the way Ted Moore lit that scene as well. You almost expect to see someone get fried to death in their office chair . . .

Michael Hagerty said...

Since Anonymous (comment #2) had to question the authenticity of the Johnny Cash track....

Well, heck, it's real. Johnny apparently submitted it to the filmmakers and was rejected.

In 1965, Cash was more often than not in the top 10 of the C&W charts (Ring of Fire was #1 in 1963), but he'd yet to crack the Top 10 on the pop charts. That would happen only once...three years later with "A Boy Named Sue".

Now, if he'd written "A Boy Named Blofeld"...

D. McEwan said...

Matt Patton said...
He was the executive producer of the remake, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN--which I've always preferred.


because he won future film rights to that one story as part of the suit settlement, and thus it became the only Bond story available for Connery to do a non-Borccoli-Saltzman Bond film of. But really, you prefer it? Yikes! Old Connery, and if anything, even cheesier thatn the Broccolli-Saltzman films, with a boring excuse for a villain.

Shirley Bassey didn't record "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" until the 80's or 90's. It's a great recording too. The song was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick (this was the music that Maurice Binder created the credit sequence around). It was only dropped at the last minute because the producers thought that the title song needed the title of the film in it.

This correction was made above. You are correct. I goofed.

I've always hated the scene where Bond all but rapes the nurse at the health farm after she saves him from the spine-stretching doohickey. The Bond films were pretty sexist in those days, but this really pushed the limit.

"Well, I guess my silence could have a price." Yup. He blackmails her into having sex with him. That made my skin crawl even back when it first came out and I was merely 16. Plus it's absurd. Impossible to believe he'd need to coerce sex. We then see her afterwards begging for more (while he treats her with concealed-from-her contempt), so it must be okay since she retroactively didn't mind. Makes you wonder about the sex lives of the writers and directors, if they think this is acceptable behavior for a hero.

Martine Beswick deserved a lot more screen time than she got. She's so sharp and funny in the few scenes she does have that it really was a loss when her character got killed off.

I agree 100%. I'd agree 200%, but it's mathematically impossible. Of course, I'm prejudiced because she's a long-time friend, but I always want more of Martine. Incidentally, Martine is the girl seen dancing only in silhouette in the opening titles for Dr. No, which constituted her screen debut, and makes her, arguably, the first Bond girl.

She tells a funny story about doing Thunderball. Although from Jamaica (She was a Miss Jamaica), she'd been living in London, and was pale and white when cast in Thunderball, so they flew her to the Bahamas early, and for two weeks she was paid, well paid, to lie out in the sun and work on her tan. Nice work if you can get it.

blofinger's cat said...

btw...."handle like eggs", as funny and cheesy as it may sound, is actually quite common in aircraft lingo, usually on anything with a gyroscope inside.

The Rush Blog said...

I'm rather divided about the Connery Bond films.

I feel that two of them are great, but flawed - "FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE" and "THUNDERBALL". Two of them are . . . . uh, tolerable - "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE" and "DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER". And I dislike the remaining two - "DR. NO" and "GOLDFINGER".

"NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN" isn't worth mentioning.

Anonymous said...

how does bond know that derval's sister is still in nassau?