Thunderball is a movie which should be so much better than it is. It has all the elements, but somehow, someway the thing always shakes apart a bit when I watch it. The first problem is that already Connery is getting a bit paunchy to sell the role, something a little bit evident in Goldfinger. The glimmer of a virile energy he projected on the screen in the first two Bond movies is missing a bit. That said, the plot rumbles around a bodacious scheme by SPECTRE.
The movie begins with blazing coincidence when James Bond, the arch-enemy of SPECTRE just so happens to be healing up at the same facility at which the schemers are hiding their fake pilot who will infiltrate NATO defenses and make off with an atomic-laden plane. Bond gets onto the scheme before it really gets going and that makes for some weird connections to what is happening, an almost too personal relationship which undermines the professional nature of his work. It's an action-movie thing, but not a Bond thing, if you follow my meaning.
We do get to go to the Caribbean again, which is good, but this trip unlike that in the first movie lacks novelty and the helpers are less interesting. Paula (Martine Beswick) is Bond's aide and like most of them gets killed off, but not in any particularly memorable fashion. The guy playing Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter) this time looks like a member of the Beach Boys and not a spy. It all feels lightweight somehow. Bond finds the villains almost immediately, but his superiors never seem to send him any real help to fend off the threat to world order until the very finale. Domino (Claudine Auger) is beautiful to look at, but seems to lack the snap of earlier dames in the series. More interesting is Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) but she gets killed off too soon.
All in all this one has all of the moving parts, but they just don't hang as well as they ought.
More to come tomorrow.