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"My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for Queen and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?"
James Bond to SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe

The fourth James Bond film, in which SPECTRE nicks a pair of nukes (from an Avro Vulcan), somebody gets the point permanently and there's a shark. Oh, and Tom Jones faints on the last note of the title song.

Thunderball was the first really massive Bond movie. Adjusting its box office tax for inflation, you produce a figure of over $950 million, above Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. On US and Canadian grosses alone, it is, according to The Other Wiki, the 26th highest grosser of all time, beating all of the Harry Potter movies (the "Potter grosses more than Bond" figure is inaccurate, since it doesn't adjust for inflation) and every one of the The Lord of the Rings movies.

The storyline of Thunderball was recycled for the non-canonical Bond film Never Say Never Again, in which a now much older Connery reprised his role as Bond. Sony pictures was at one time planning to remake Thunderball again, this time casting Connery as Ernst Stavro Blofield, but a court ruled against them in the matter of the rights to the James Bond character. (Through subsequent studio mergers, MGM acquired NSNA and the matter became moot.)

The book is notable for being perhaps the first story about terrorists stealing nuclear weapons and holding the world to ransom- a common enough trope in modern spy and action thrillers, but a revolutionary idea at the time. Thats right, folks; James Bond invented nuclear terrorism.

This movie contains examples of:

  • America Saves the Day: The U.S. Air Force Pararescue frogmen parachuting to the rescue to help Bond stop the SPECTRE frogmen with the nuke.
  • Artificial Gill: The mini-breather.
    • After the movie came out, a naval engineer spoke to the producers, inquiring how they managed to make the mini-breather, since he was trying to develop one himself. He was devastated by their answer: Sean Connery was actually holding his breath.
  • Asexuality: According to Largo, his henchman Vargas...

 "..does not drink...does not smoke...does not make love. What do you do, Vargas?"


 He always runs while others walk

He acts, while other men just talk

He thinks that the fight is worth it all

So he strikes, like thunderball...

  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Harpoons are the weapon of choice in that movie.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: A particularly weird one, where one of Largo's henchmen is aiming at Bond as he dances with Fiona. Bond spins around at the last moment so that he hits Fiona instead...right between two of Bond's fingers!
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: the Bahamas Junkanoo festival.
  • Jet Pack: Bond uses one.
  • Karma Houdini: Blofeld.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The underwater battles are long. A common consensus today it's that while in 1964 it was awesome, after aquatic shooting became kinda commonplace they're really overdrawn.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Bond and Lippe try to dispose of each other this way in the health spa.
  • Man Behind the Man: As in From Russia with Love, Blofeld is the real villain, running things from the background.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: In the movie, it cuts as Volpe is taking Bond's shirt off, but the trailer shows him saying "The things I do for England" while she does so (the line ended up on You Only Live Twice as Bond is undressing Helga Brandt).
  • A Nuclear Error
    • Considering a recent Newsnight report, not A Nuclear Error. It's still hard to believe British air-dropped nukes were protected by bicycle locks.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Bond takes a bullet right into his ankle and still manages to run and escape his pursuers, barely limping through the Junkanoo parade. He stops at a bathroom, pulls up his pants and ties a handkerchief around his ankle and he's good as new. Of course, the very next day when he swims out to Largo's island in his swimming shorts, his leg doesn't even have a scratch on it.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: Discussed in everything but its precise form, where in the text, had Emilio Largo been born and lived in the age of piracy, he'd have been a cutthroat pirate, but with his ruthlessness balanced with an aversion to being a notorious dastard. None of this is in the film, but... he does wear an eyepatch.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Bell Rocket Belt Bond uses had its natural sound replaced by a "more realistic" fire-extinguisher sound.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Bond has no problem walking around Nassau in a short-sleeved pink shirt.
  • Revealing Coverup: SPECTRE's attempt to kill Bond, which risked alerting his superiors to their presence.
  • Right-Hand-Cat: Blofeld's pet Persian.
  • Sex Face Turn: Lampshaded, averted, and mocked.
  • Samus Is a Girl: When motorcyclist assassin Fiona Volpe reveals herself as a woman.
  • Sauna of Death: Bond locks Count Lippe in a Turkish bath.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: As Bond and Volpe are about to have sex, it cuts to Junkanoo.
  • Shark Pool: On Largo's estate.
  • Shower of Love: Actually a Sauna Of Love, between Bond and a nurse at Shrublands.
  • Storming the Castle: U.S. divers vs. SPECTRE frogmen in an undersea battle.
  • The UK Armed Forces and Ultimate Defence of the Realm: The Avro Vulcan nuclear bomber SPECTRE hijacks.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Weirdly, a rejected theme: the song playing in the club where Fiona is shot is Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the song originally intended for the titles (the producers didn't like a Non-Appearing Title, so one actually titled "Thunderball" was comissioned).
  • Title Drop: "Thunderball" is the name of the operation to retrieve the missing nuclear weapons.
  • Torture Technician: Largo claims to be able to do horrible things with just a lit cigar and a bucket of ice. We have no reason to not believe him.
  • Villain Ball: Count Lippe's attempt to kill Bond, which endangered SPECTRE's operation.
    • His failed attempt to kill Bond endangered SPECTRE's operation; Count Lippe suspected (rightly) that Bond was suspicious of him, and knowing that Bond was the Arch Enemy of the organization might have firstly incorrectly (but reasonably) assumed that Bond was actually there to investigate him (or worse, their plot), and secondly might be acting on "kill on sight" pre-orders. Had he succeeded there wouldn't be a problem, and Bond was starting to look into him anyway after seeing his tattoo.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: In the cold open, SPECTRE agent Jacques Bouvar fakes his death and attends his own funeral disguised as a woman. Bond catches on (thanks to his not letting one of the men around him open a car door for him; it was the '60s) and he has to fight in the dress.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Bond's killing of Colonel Jacques Bouvar at the start of the movie.
  • War Room: Production designer Ken Adam designed two for Thunderball. The cold, metallic and black SPECTRE conference room, and the MI 6' more classical style conference room with huge windows and tapestries.
  • Weaponized Car: The Aston Martin DB5 makes another appearance in the pre-title sequence. Fiona Volpe rides a BSA Lightning motorcycle with a missile launcher that she uses to kill Count Lippe.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Domino is freed by Dr. Ladislav Kutze, Largo's nuclear physicist who commits a Heel Face Turn. When Bond and Domino escape Largo's boat near the end of the film, Bond first throws Kutze overboard wearing a lifebuoy telling him that it's never too late to learn to swim. Seconds later, Bond and Domino are picked up by the helicopters while the henchman just disappears.
  • You Have Failed Me: Count Lippe. The Villain Ball is not merciful.
    • Quist, who gets tossed in Largo's shark pool.
    • Fiona Volpe is implied to be the one who does this to SPECTRE's agents.