Thunderball (film)

Thunderball is a 1965 spy film and the fourth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, starring Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is an adaptation of the 1961 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, which in turn was based on an original story by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Fleming, and an original screenplay by Jack Whittingham. It was the third and final Bond film to be directed by Terence Young, with its screenplay by Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins. The movie would have been the first of the Bond series if not for legal disputes over copyright.[3]

Theatrical release poster by Robert McGinnis and Frank McCarthy
Directed byTerence Young
Screenplay byRichard Maibaum
John Hopkins
Original Screenplay:
Jack Whittingham
Story byKevin McClory
Jack Whittingham
Ian Fleming
Based onThunderball
by Ian Fleming
Produced byKevin McClory
StarringSean Connery
Claudine Auger
Adolfo Celi
Luciana Paluzzi
Rik Van Nutter
CinematographyTed Moore
Edited byPeter Hunt
Ernest Hosler
Music byJohn Barry
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • 9 December 1965 (1965-12-09) (Tokyo, premiere)
  • 29 December 1965 (1965-12-29) (United Kingdom)
Running time
130 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom[1]
United States[2]
Budget$9 million
Box office$141.2 million

The film follows Bond's mission to find two NATO atomic bombs stolen by SPECTRE, which holds the world for ransom of £100 million in diamonds under its threat to destroy an unspecified metropolis in either the United Kingdom or the United States (later revealed to be Miami). The search leads Bond to the Bahamas, where he encounters Emilio Largo, the card-playing, eye patch-wearing SPECTRE Number Two. Backed by CIA agent Felix Leiter and Largo's mistress, Domino Derval, Bond's search culminates in an underwater battle with Largo's henchmen. The film's complex production comprised four different units and about a quarter of the film comprised underwater scenes.[4] Thunderball was the first Bond film shot in widescreen Panavision and the first to have a running time of over two hours.

Thunderball was associated with a legal dispute in 1961 when former Ian Fleming collaborators McClory and Whittingham sued him shortly after the 1961 publication of the novel, claiming he based it upon the screenplay the trio had written for a cinematic translation of James Bond. The lawsuit was settled out of court and Bond film series producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, fearing a rival McClory film, allowed him to retain certain screen rights to the novel's story, plot, and characters,[5] and for McClory to receive sole producer credit on this film; Broccoli and Saltzman instead served as executive producers.[6]

The film was exceptionally successful: its worldwide box office receipts of $141.2 million exceeded not only that of every one of its predecessors, but that of every one of the five Bond films that followed it. Thunderball is the most financially successful film of the series in North America when adjusted for ticket price inflation.[7] In 1966, John Stears won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects[8] and BAFTA nominated production designer Ken Adam for an award.[9] Some critics and viewers praised the film and branded it a welcome addition to the series, while others found the aquatic action repetitious and the film's length excessive.[citation needed] In 1983, Warner Bros. released a second film adaptation of the novel under the title Never Say Never Again, with McClory as executive producer.