Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Thunderball Improves on Bond's Technique

Cleveland Press December 22, 1965

By now the James Bond films are pure formula and Bond fans wouldn't want them any other way. It is the fantasy world in which the super-hero finds all villains beatable, all women willing, and no situation hopeless.

This latest Bond film, "Thunderball," is better than "Goldfinger" and though sex still is a major part, it is not nearly so vulgar.

Again there is an attempt at humor but in this respect, "From Russia With Love," number two in the series, remains the best.

Bond's dryly-delivered cliches at the end of an escapade, the purely Bondsian flourish (stopping to toss flowers on the body of a man he has just killed while his pursuers are breaking in a door), the Bond elegance (ordering the right wine at dinner) -- all are still there but are growing thin.

Where "Thunderball" triumphs is in its special effects, its gadgets, its underwater scenes. The lengthiest of these is an underwater battle in which two armies -- the forces of SPECTRE in black, American aqua-paratroopers in orange -- advance and meet head-on.

THERE ARE underwater sleds that pull a man through water, the front of it armed with spear guns. There is a two-man sub that can carry an H-bomb, a yacht that breaks apart into a speedy hydrofoil.

In a prologue, Bond seems hopelessly trapped on the balcony of a building, but escapes by going straight up -- thanks to a jet power pack he has strapped to his back.

In "Thunderball'' the international crime syndicate known as SPECTRE has hijacked a NATO plane carrying two atom bombs, demands a ransom from the Western world with the threat of destroying two major cities unless paid $2,800,000.

BOND AND ALL the other agents with a double-0 prefix on their number (it indicates a license to kill) spread out around the world to find the bombs. Bond, agent 007, ends up in the Bahamas where there are villains, girls in bikinis, sharks, girls in bikinis, the bombs and girls in bikinis.

It's not much of a plot for two hours and 10 minutes but the writers and producers pad it out with alternating fights and love scenes.

One of the latter occurs underwater and where fireworks once indicated this sort of thing, it's now done with a burst of bubbles rushing to the surface.

SEAN CONNERY plays Bond with a greater air of detachment than ever, as though his conquests -- amorous and otherwise -- were all in a day's work. It's the proper spirit for the part.

The movie publicity doesn't say so but the man who did all the underwater scenes in the Bond role is a fellow whose name is Frank Cousins. He deserves plenty of credit.

Adolfo Celi is sinister as the heavy, the number two man in SPECTRE. The newest Bond girl is Claudine Auger and lesser Bond girls are Luciana Paluzzi and Molly Peters, all of whom seem to have the proper dimensions.


Short Subjects... Ursula Andress, who appeared in the first James Bond film, will be in another. She has been cast in "Casino Royale," a Bond film being made by a rival company. In it Peter Sellers is Bond.