Volpe is the classic femme fatale, the flame haired SPECTRE operative uses her body to seduce then kill her victims with no man immune to her charms. Leather clad astride her gold BSA motorcycle with built-in rocket launchers she dispatches a victim with the same cold enthusiasm that she displays when seducing Bond, making her the real standout villain of the film. Largos other henchman, Vargas, is played by Philip Locke. The character is built-up throughout the film with Largo declaring; Vargas does not drink, does not smoke, does not make love. However with his slight frame he does not seem to hold anything like the threat or presence of either Largo or Volpe resulting in his relatively simple and quick death at the hands of Bond.
(Bond standing in the doorway between their apartments as Fiona takes a bath)
Fiona Volpe: Arent you in the wrong room, Mr. Bond?
James Bond: Not from where Im standing.
The Bond Girl The film begins with Bond recuperating at a health clinic with physiotherapist Patricia Fearing played by Molly Peters assigned as his personal nurse. Resisting Bonds charms at first she inevitably finds herself in bed with him before he leaves the hospital for his next mission. Peters had a short acting career that began with Thunderball and ended with an appearance in the Jerry Lewis comedy Dont Raise The Bridge, Lower The River in 1968. She has fun with her character and her relationship with Bond is reminiscent of the chemistry between Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench in the first two films. The main Bond girl in Thunderball is Dominique (Domino) Derval, Largos niece and mistress. The role, originally offered to established stars Julie Christie, Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway was eventually filled by former Miss France Claudine Auger. Augers dialogue was actually provided by voice artist Nikki van der Zyl who had previously voiced Ursula Andress in Dr. No and Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger. Despite this Auger has an endearing naivety, looks fantastic and has the rare honour of delivering the killer blow to the villain.
(After shooting Vargas with a spear gun)
James Bond: I think he got the point.
Gadgets As with all Bonds previous gadgets he seems to be given exactly the right equipment for the mission on which he is about to embark and Thunderball is no exception. Firstly there is the jet pack from the opening scene; perfect for his escape over the high walls of the chateau he finds himself in, it is classic Bond despite the time it takes to strap on. After a briefing with Q, Bond is equipped with an infra-red camera that also features a Geiger counter, useful for searching for atomic bombs, an miniature underwater breathing device, ideal should he find himself underwater without breathing apparatus, a radioactive homing device in the form of a pill to be swallowed and a tiny flare gun, both of which will come in handy if Bond finds himself trapped and needing assistance. During the climactic battle, Bond uses a bulky underwater propulsion unit loaded with harpoons, underwater grenades and searchlights. Of all the gadgets the most interesting is the mini breathing device. Used on several occasions during the film, the device seems to be a highly innovative creation and was the cause of much debate as to whether such a gadget could actually work. However during an interview on the DVD release of the film, the units designer Peter Lamont recalls when he was asked by the Royal Corps of Engineers if such a device could really exist and how long it could be used underwater he replied; As long as you can hold your breath. James Bond Will Return.. The legal battles that surrounded the initial inception of the project faded into the background as Thunderball went on to break all box-office records set by Goldfinger the previous year. McClory would return to the world of James Bond in 1983 to remake Thunderball as Never Say Never Again going head to head with EON Productions Octopussy the same year. (More on this in 2012 as my retrospective continues) With a final box office take of over $140million, Thunderball was the number one money maker of 1966 in the US and proved to be Connerys most successful Bond film. After four films in as many years Bond ruled at the worldwide box office and had become a global phenomenon, from here he could only go on to bigger and better things. To catch up on previous installments of the James Bond Retrospective click below: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger
(After killing Largo with a harpoon gun)
Domino: Im glad I killed him
James Bond: Youre glad?