Bond-a-Thond #4: ‘Thunderball’ (1965)

For the next 22 weeks, MTV Movies Blog will be running what we call the Bond-a-Thond. Every Wednesday we’re taking a look back at a single (official) Bond film, giving you the vitals and seeing how it holds up, right up until the release of “Skyfall” on November 9. Feel free to watch along with us and share your thoughts or just kick back and enjoy the Bond.

Thunderball (1965)

Title Meaning: Thunderball is the name given to the operation organized to recapture the stolen atomic bombs.

Plot: After taking “Goldfinger” off, evil international organization SPECTRE returns to hold two stolen atomic bombs for ransom. MI6 assembles all of the 00 agents to help retrieve them, but only James Bond is clever enough to track them to Nassau.

Bond: Sean Connery

Villain: Emilio Largo aka Number 2, Blofeld’s second-in-command and the orchestrator of the ransom plot, played by Adolfo Celi, and Fiona Volpe, SPECTRE agent and murdering seductress, played by Luciana Paluzzi.

Bond Girl: Domino, Largo’s mistress, played by Claudine Auger

“Bond, James Bond” Occurrences: 0

Martinis: 0

Card Games: 1

Cigarettes Smoked: 0

Explosions: 4

Tuxes Worn: 1

Kills By Bond: 17

Most Creative Kill: Bond casually kills an approaching assassin with a spear gun, quipping “I think he got the point.”

Gadgets: A well-placed jetpack helps Bond escape the opening sequence. He uses a compact breathing tube extensively during the film’s underwater climax.

Mental State of Miss Moneypenny: Smitten

Sexual Partners: 3 (His nurse, Fiona, Domino)

First Occurrence of Sex: 16 minutes in

Most Unrealistic Moments: Bond and Domino have an underwater rendevous, where they embrace and slowly sink down to the bottom with corral obstructing the view. Bubbles erupt from the spot, strongly implying underwater sex.

Most “Bond” Moments: When Bond walks in on Fiona taking a bath, she requests something to put on and cover herself up with. He brings a pair of heels.

Sign of the Times: At one point, Bond declares that he’s “grown accustomed” to Fiona’s face, a reference to “My Fair Lady,” which came out the year before.

Place in Bond History: “Thunderball” generated the most controversy behind the scenes for any Bond film. The story’s original source has long been a point of contension. Ian Fleming’s novel “Thunderball” came from a failed screenplay project the author worked on with two other writers. The resulting court case gave the rights away, allowing for 1983’s non-Broccoli and Saltzman Bond movie, “Never Say Never Again.”

Review: After an entry like “Goldfinger,” there was only one direction the series could ever go. “Thunderball” suffers mostly from a poor creative decision to place many of the film’s major action sequences underwater. While interesting in concept, the end result is a messy, poorly shot series of confusing aquatic scenes. It’s nearly impossible to tell who is who in full scuba gear, and everything moves at a glacial pace simply because of the limitations of moving underwater.

When the film’s main concete fails to stick the landing, we’re left with a rather uninteresting, boilerplate ransom storyline. Domino lacks the danger of a Pussy Galore, and while Fiona adds some intrigue, Number 2 unfortunately lives up to his ranking.

The Bond-a-Thond will return next week in “You Only Live Twice.”

What do you think of “Thunderball”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!