Actors and Allies
Yesterday, I mentioned that Moneypenny and Bond's relationship was changed slightly from the novel Thunderball. That's because Fleming had weirdly changed it for the novel. The literary Bond and Moneypenny never flirt (that's something he does with his own secretaries, not with his boss'), but in Thunderball Fleming wrote that Moneypenny had a crush on Bond. It never came up again in the books, so maybe he thought better of it, but it was also creeping into the movies with Goldfinger. In Dr. No and From Russia With Love, Bond and Moneypenny flirt, but it's entirely mutual and there's no hint that she wants anything more from him than he wants from her. In Goldfinger though, I got the feeling that she was starting to have romantic thoughts about him. Fortunately, that's all gone in Thunderball and we're back to sheer, mutual playfulness.
Felix Leiter is also back and I like Rik Van Nutter in the part. He's not a very good actor, but he looks like the literary Felix with his lean handsomeness, sandy hair, and relaxed demeanor. Visually, we won't get another Felix this good until the Timothy Dalton era.
One of Bond's most important allies in Thunderball is his assistant, Paula, but I'm going to talk more about her tomorrow.
An overlooked ally is Bond's Nassau contact, Pinder, played by Earl Cameron. It's a small part, but also an important one. Pinder is competent, useful, and surprisingly ubiquitous through the middle part of the movie. I enjoy watching him a lot.
In fact, Pinder is a bigger character in Thunderball than Q, who only appears in one scene. That's not unusual for the series, but Thunderball uses him in a weird way, sending him all the way to Nassau to outfit Bond, but then never mentioning him again. There will be plenty more of that in the later Bond movies, but it's kind of surprising here when we see it for the first time. We do get a chuckle out of the situation though when Bond realizes his mission has been invaded by Q and he says, "Oh no" like he means it. The mutual disdain between the men has been escalating over the last couple of films and Thunderball continues to play that up. Eventually, we'll see that Bond and Q's ribbing each other is actually affectionate, but here it can be read either way.
As for Bond, Connery is completely at ease with his character; possibly more than in any other movie. That's not to say that he looks uncomfortable in the first three films, but he's got this part down by Thunderball and he's never funnier. That's largely due to Connery's delivery, but the script is also the funniest in the series so far. As I was keeping track of quips to figure out the best one, I was surprised by how many great lines Bond has in Thunderball.
Choosing the best quip turned out to be easy though. As funny as the whole movie is, nothing beats Bond's setting Fiona's corpse in a chair at the Kiss Kiss Club and asking the people at the table if his "friend can sit this one out. She's just dead." And Bond looks simultaneous pained by the pun and completely amused with himself as he turns away from them. Just perfect.
There aren't any full-blown stinkers in the movie, but the one with the worst landing is when Bond takes off his jet pack and declares, "No well-dressed man should be without one." It's not horrible, but it's also not trying very hard.
Speaking of the jet pack, it's my favorite gadget in the movie, but there are plenty to choose from. And that's not even counting SPECTRE gadgets like Fiona's missile-firing motorcycle and Largo's tricked out yacht (I've decided only to include Bond's gadgets in my Top Ten). The Aston Martin makes another appearance (this time firing water cannons instead of creating an oil slick), but there's also a tape-recorder disguised as a book, a geiger counter watch, a geiger counter camera, a radioactive pill that acts as a homing beacon when swallowed, a handy rebreather for underwater work, and a propeller-driven SCUBA tank set up with built in spearguns and plenty of underwater grenades. Q really outdoes himself this time.
Top Ten Gadgets
1. Aston Martin DB V (Goldfinger and Thunderball)
2. Jet pack (Thunderball)
3. Attaché case (From Russia With Love)
4. Propeller SCUBA tank with built-in spearguns (Thunderball)
5. Rebreather (Thunderball)
6. Camera-tape recorder; mostly because it reminds me of a camera my dad used to use (From Russia With Love)
7. Seagull SCUBA hat (Goldfinger)
8. Book tape-recorder (Thunderball)
9. Geiger counter watch (Thunderball)
10. Geiger counter camera (Thunderball)
Bond's Best Outfit
I got tired of looking at Bond's suits and trying to decide which color scheme I liked best, so I picked this poolside outfit he wears with blue swim trunks and a watermelon shirt. It's bold, but he pulls it off.
Bond's Worst Outfit
I couldn't find a great screenshot of this entire outfit, but the straw hat is only part of the problem. Bond's pants exactly match the color of his shirt and that's a real issue for me. Looks like he's wearing pajamas.
I love Goldfinger but I seem to always have a better time watching Thunderball. That undersea battle at the end is great stuff and cutting edge for it's time.
I agree! A lot of people apparently find the underwater stuff slow, but I think it's impressive. I dig it.
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