Follow TV Tropes


Film / Thunderball

Go To

James Bond: My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for King and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?
Fiona Volpe: But of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, the one where he has to make love to a woman, and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, and turns to the side of right and virtue... but not this one! What a blow it must have been. You, having a failure!
James Bond: Well, you can't win them all.

The One With… the underwater scenes... And the Jetpack.

The fourth James Bond film by Eon Productions, Thunderball saw the return and last directing gig of Terence Young in the series, and starred Sean Connery. It came out on December 29, 1965 in the UK. The Title Theme Tune was sung by Tom Jones.

The SPECTRE organization hijacks two atomic bombs, and holds the major countries of the West to a hefty ransom, threatening to destroy two major cities. James Bond is dispatched to the Bahamas to investigate and stop them.

The storyline was recycled for the non-Eon Productions Bond film Never Say Never Again, in which a now much older Connery reprised his role as Bond. Columbia 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. MGM eventually bought out NSNA from its producer as leverage in the legal dispute.

Preceded by Goldfinger and followed by You Only Live Twice.

Thunderball provides examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: There was a noticeable attempt to make the action more fast-paced and the fights more nervous and brutal than they were in Goldfinger.
  • Actor Allusion: As Bond bids farewell to Nurse Fearing, he says "Another time, another place", the name of another movie Sean Connery had starred early in his career.
  • Adaptational Context Change: In the book, Blofeld kills a mook for raping a hostage they took in. Said mook dies the same way in the film, but for stealing from SPECTRE's drug-running operation.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the book, Bond is sent to Shrublands Health Farm to detox as a result of poor fitness reports. The film offers no explanation as to why he's there — he seems in pretty good shape to begin with. The novel also provides additional details about Shrublands that the movie omits, such as a key aspect of the clinic's regimen being a fad "nature" diet. This can make Moneypenny's quip about Bond being "on yoghurt and lemon juice" seem out of context.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The books' version of Largo has a freakishly large head and hands, along with pointed ears and brown hair. The film's version is Adolfo Celi, a handsome Silver Fox with a simpler, more iconic eyepatch.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: SPECTRE, of all things. In the novel, they put a knife through the turned pilot's head as soon as he's played his role with no reason given. In the movie, they make a point of keeping their word and it can be inferred that he only died because — in a movie-only scene — the equivalent character tried to take advantage of the situation and demand more money than they had agreed on.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Domino's being changed from Italian to French meant that her name went from Dominetta "Domino" Vitali (born Petracchi) became Dominque Derval.
  • Adaptational Nationality:
    • Domino, who was Italian in the book (real name Dominetta "Domino" Vitali), is French in the film.
    • Fiona Volpe was originally an Irishwoman named Fiona Kelly, but in the film is Italian, like her actress. Strangely, her first name was kept intact, even though "Fiona" was much more appropriate to an Irishwoman than an Italian (especially one probably born in the late 1930s if she is of similar age to her actress.)
  • Adaptational Wimp: Downplayed with Domino. While she still kills the Big Bad and saves Bond, in the novel she escaped on her own (rather than a mook doing a Heel–Face Turn and freeing her) and Bond is fighting Largo underwater, so that she both kills Largo and saves Bond from drowning.
  • America Saves the Day: The U.S. Coast Guard frogmen parachuting to the rescue to help Bond stop the SPECTRE frogmen with the bomb.
  • 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 and got to surface between takes.
  • Artistic Licence – Gun Safety: When Bond goes to visit Largo at his home, Largo points a shotgun at his guest (Largo had been shooting skeet). Bond gently pushes it away. Of course, since Largo spends half the movie trying to kill Bond, starting shortly after this scene, it might not have been accidental...
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Count Lippe, as well as the fake Major Derval and SPECTRE Number 9, the latter two of whom try unsuccessfully to embezzle money from SPECTRE they were not supposed to take (the fake Derval demands a raise in the middle of the hijacking, and the latter takes money from an offscreen drug scheme) and are killed quickly for disloyalty.
    • Quist, who after carelessly foiling his own attempt to kill Bond, gets thrown into the shark pool by Largo for his failure.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Colonel Jacques Bouvar, at the beginning of the movie. Bond makes sure that he will be attending his own funeral for real. Played with in that the first thing we see is the "JB" on the coffin. The camera then pans up to James Bond watching the funeral.
  • Badass Biker: Fiona Vulpe, motorcyclist SPECTRE assassin.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: As Largo is about to shoot Bond, Domino shoots him from behind with a Harpoon Gun.
  • Bandaged Face: Angelo Palazzi undergoing the plastic surgery necessary to make him look like Major Derval.
  • Been There, Shaped History: SPECTRE helped plan the Great British Train Robbery (which happened just two years before the movie came out).
  • Big Bad: Emilio Largo, as the mastermind behind SPECTRE's plot to steal nuclear warheads. Although it's made clear he's Number Two to Blofeld.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The underwater battle between Largo's SPECTRE frogmen and Coast Guard frogmen seems undecisive, until Bond zooms in with a Q-branch back thruster and turns the tide of the battle in favour of the good guys.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Fiona Volpe: Italian for "fox" (the animal), referring to her red hair and cunning as an assassin.
    • Also Largo's ship: Disco Volante is Italian for Flying Saucer, a tip-off of the breakaway hydrofoil front section. In the remake Never Say Never Again, it's actually called The Flying Saucer.
  • Blackmail Backfire: SPECTRE operative Angelo Palazzi tries to blackmail his organization into paying him more money at the last second before his part in the plans to steal several atomic bombs occurs (as he points out, he is the only infiltrator available for the job, with his surgically-changed face and all; and there is no way SPECTRE will get a replacement in such short notice. He also points out that said face is all the evidence he needs to show any agency that some dirty deeds are afoot). SPECTRE agrees, only to kill him rather unceremoniously once he has outlived his usefulness.
  • Blofeld Ploy: Blofeld electrocutes one of the henchmen sitting at his conference table for embezzling money from him (which he really was guilty of), only after interrogating another (and totally innocent) henchman for the reason why their drug trafficking ring had turned in such poor profits, showing that it applies to things other than just failing to kill a "00" Agent.
    • In the book at least, the purpose of interrogating the innocent henchman was so the guilty one would relax... and therefore be touching the contact plates. And Blofeld then praised the innocent man (who'd totally trusted him to do what was right) for the calm way he'd taken the interrogation.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Patricia (blonde), Domino (brunette), Fiona (redhead)
  • Board to Death: The iconic SPECTRE briefing scene ends with a zapped subordinate.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • "Mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead."
    • "I think he got the point."
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • Fiona Volpe successfully seduces Bond- not that it's especially difficult to do so- and doesn't do a High-Heel–Face Turn, but then monologues about it and generally screws around until Bond escapes, killing her shortly thereafter. Helga Brandt makes almost the exact same mistake a film later, though she's instead killed by her superior for being a moron.
    • Largo himself provides a classic example. He catches Bond in his pool fighting with one of his men. The mook with him is just about to shoot Bond, while Largo stops him and instead traps Bond in there to be eaten by his sharks. Naturally, Bond uses this to escape - there were no security precautions keeping Bond from swimming to the shark pool and leaving from there apart from the sharks themselves.
  • Book Safe: Bond uses a sound-activated listening device in a book to determine if someone has sneaked into his room while he's been out.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Bond is dancing with villainess Fiona Volpe when one of her henchmen attempts to shoot him in the back. Bond spins her around at the exact right time for the bullet to kill her instead.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Angelo demands an increase to his payment, smugly pointing out he's the only person who can do his job, which Count Lippe reluctantly agrees to. But when word of his behaviour reaches Blofeld, he orders Largo to eliminate Angelo and Lippe.
  • The Cartel: Discussed during a SPECTRE board meeting. When Blofeld asks Numbers 9 and 11 on why their drug-running scheme generated less than expected revenues, Number 11 blames competition from Latin American drug cartels. Blofeld is unsatisfied with the response, and determines someone had been stealing money from SPECTRE.
  • The Cavalry:
    • The coast guard frogmen who are parachuted right in time to intercept Largo and his men underwater as they are carrying the bomb towards Miami.
    • Bond himself is this to the coast guard frogmen, as his underwater Big Damn Heroes turns the tide of the battle.
  • Chairman of the Brawl:
    • A chair is put to use in the fight between Bond and Bouvar.
    • Bond chucks a chair at a Disco Volante goon during the final fight.
  • Cigarette Burns: Largo uses a combination of a lit cigar and ice cubes to torture Domino for information, when he finds out she's in league with James Bond.
  • Codename Title: Operation Thunderball.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: When Largo catches Domino snooping around the Disco Volante with one of Bond's gadgets, he suspects that she's working against him and tortures her with ice cubes and a cigar.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Two armies of divers fight over a bomb lost in the ocean. One side wears shiny black, the other orange.
  • Colour Motif: In keeping with her namesake, Domino's clothes are black and white - black swimsuit, white dress and black and white bikini.
  • Concealing Canvas: Hiding a map of top-secret locations.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: As Largo is about to shoot Bond, Domino shoots him from behind with a speargun.
  • Cool Bike: Fiona Volpe's BSA Lightning with the built-in missile launchers.
  • Cool Boat: The Disco Volante with its breakaway shell and hydrofoils.
  • Cool Car: Bond's Aston Martin DB5 makes a reappearance. The team in Nassau make use of a '65 Ford Mustang for transport.
  • Cool Guns:
    • James Bond briefly uses a Browning Auto-5 to shoot clay pigeons with Largo.
    • Largo's henchmen carry MP40s.
  • Cool Plane:
    • The Avro Vulcan nuclear bomber SPECTRE hijacks.
    • Special mention goes to the modified B-17 that picks up Bond and Domino at the end — it belonged to a CIA front company and was used for extraction on at least one Real Life spy operation. It was also used to develop the Fulton STARS sky hook.
  • Cool Shades: The Bahamas being a sunny locale more than one character wears one: Bond, Leiter, Vargas.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: The leadership of SPECTRE, which includes an Italian (#2), an Englishman (#5), a Frenchman (#10), a Japanese man (#7), and an American (#11). Though he doesn't speak, an Indian appears on the council as well.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: SPECTRE uses the cover of a refugee aid agency — "International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons"
  • Creepy 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.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: The film begins with James Bond fighting it out with a bad guy in widow drag wielding a fireplace poker. Later, when a physical therapist (a hot one) is examining him, she comments on a scar on his back:
    Bond: A poker. In the hand of a widow.
    Therapist: Really — I thought you'd be just the type for a widow.
    Bond: Not this one, he didn't like me at all.
  • Cyanide Pill: Bond's assistant Paula Caplan takes one rather than face interrogation by SPECTRE thugs. In a cruel irony, Bond would have arrived in time to save her if she hadn't.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • Bond's fellow agent Paula is kidnapped by Largo's goons and taken to his estate to be interrogated.
    • Domino also qualifies, especially toward the end of the movie.
  • Dark Action Girl: SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe.
  • Dead Foot Lead Foot: An aquatic variant as Largo's dead or dying body forces the Disco Voltane to run explosively aground.
  • Deadly Dodging: What leads to Fiona Volpe's demise (see Bulletproof Human Shield).
  • Deadly Gas: Palazzi kills Derval with a pistol firing a spray of gamma gas, then later plugs a small cannister of the same gas into the oxygen supply of the crew of the Vulcan, after first switching to his own independent oxygen tank.
  • Death by Materialism: Angelo Pallazi, the SPECTRE agent assigned to kill and replace Major Francois Derval, demands an increase in his payment, smugly pointing out he's the only person able to do his job. But when word of his behaviour reaches the top of SPECTRE, Blofeld tells Largo to eliminate Angelo after his job is done. Or perhaps they were going to get rid of him anyway.
  • Decomposite Character: In both the novel and the movie, SPECTRE hires a pilot to steal a pair of atomic bombs. However, the movie changes their agent from Giuseppe Petacchi, a single pilot from World War II who is willing to sell out for a high enough price, and splits him into François Derval, innocent NATO pilot, and the thoroughly-evil Angelo, a SPECTRE agent trained to kill him and take his place.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: It takes a while but nurse Patricia Fearing eventually warms up to Bond.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Emilio Largo designed the Evil Plan. Blofeld is also seen at the beginning of the movie, coordinating the various activities of SPECTRE.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Weirdly, a rejected track: 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 commissioned).
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • The book and the film have Domino killing Largo with a speargun, but in different circumstances. In the novel, this happened underwater and she shot him through the neck, while in the film, it happens onboard the Disco Volante and she shoots him in the back. Never Say Never Again has the novel's climax.
    • In the book, SPECTRE kills the traitorous pilot via knife to the head. In the film, Largo slices through his airhose and leaves him to drown.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation: Largo didn't have an eyepatch in the book.
  • Disguised in Drag: The film opens with Colonel Bouvar, an adversary of Bond's, faking his death and dressing as his widow.
  • Disposable Vehicle Section: In the climax, Largo's yacht Disco Volante jettisons its stern section to confuse and divert the American and British warships closing in. The mooks left aboard the stern section use a variety of guns, from machine guns to a 40mm cannon, to fire on the pursuing warships. Meanwhile, the forward half becomes a hydrofoil, which is far faster than any of the pursuing ships and might have escaped if not for Bond's interference.
  • Dissonant Serenity: While the others are visibly sweating, Largo isn't the slightest bit perturbed by the electrocution of a fellow SPECTRE council member.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: A downplayed version; Blofeld has a taped message of his demands delivered to 10 Downing Street, and the Double 0's listen to it during their Mission Briefing.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Largo keeps Domino as his mistress, has her brother murdered and tortures her. She kills him with a speargun.
  • Don't Try This at Home: That lovely underwater sex scene with Domino? Um yeah, try that in real life and you might float to the surface unexpectedly fast and give yourself and your partner matching embolisms.
  • The Dragon:
    • Vargas and Fiona Volpe to Emilio Largo. The latter gets more screentime, but the former is more clearly Largo's enforcer.
    • Largo himself is this to Blofeld, as SPECTRE Number Two.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Bond steals a black wetsuit and hood to masquerade as a SPECTRE diver. Subverted when despite there being only a small part of his face visible through his face mask (and then only when looking almost directly at him), Largo still recognizes him.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • During the SPECTRE meeting, Blofeld delivers a brief, but sincere eulogy for Col. Jacuqes Bouvar.
    • After Bond has removed the bandages from Derval's corpse and discovered his identity, he solemnly covers up the dead man with a blanket.
  • Empty Quiver: SPECTRE steals two atomic bombs and uses them to extort a huge amount from the British government.
  • Enemy Mine: When the sharks show up during the big underwater fight at the end, the SPECTRE frogmen and their opponents stop fighting each other and join forces to attack the sharks.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: SPECTRE scientist Kutz is so upset to see Largo torturing Domino that he helps her escape.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier if French: Domino (who is an Italian in the novel, but Claudine Auger turned her into a Frenchwoman).
  • Evil Plan: SPECTRE's plan is to steal two atomic bombs and try to get ransom from the U.S. by threatening to launch them.
  • Evil Redhead: SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe — so evil she's even immune to James Bond's legendary bedroom charms!
  • Evil Running Good: Emilio Largo is in charge of the International Brotherhood for Assistance of Stateless Persons, a philanthropic organization based in Paris. He is also "Number Two" in SPECTRE. The Brotherhood acts as a front group for SPECTRE.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Emilio Largo, who wears a prominent eyepatch and oozes authority. It helps that he's one of the most charismatic Bond villains ever.
  • The Faceless: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, leader of SPECTRE. As usual.
  • Failsafe Failure: Count Lippe tries to kill Bond by turning up the setting on a spine-stretching exercise machine he's strapped into. Bond blacks out and is only saved by Pat happening to enter the room just in time. Leaving viewers to wonder why the hell the machine was even designed to be able to go that fast.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: After Bond rescues Domino from drowning, he fakes engine trouble on his boat so he can ask her to take him to an appointment in her boat (and get to know her better).
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: James Bond dons a helmet before going to fly around in the Bell Rocket Belt. The filmmakers objected to the helmet, but the stunt man refused to fly the rocket without it.
  • Fed to the Beast: Largo has Quist fed to sharks after he botches an attempt on 007's life.
  • Foreshadowing: After Bond kills Largo's The Dragon, Vargas with a spear from a speargun, Domino says "It should have been Largo." Guess how Largo is killed in the climax and by who?
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the underwater recovery of the bombs, one of the warning labels seen prominently on the side says "Handle like eggs".
  • Friend or Foe?: Exploited by 007. Finding himself between two groups of the Big Bad's men, Bond takes a shot at each, then quickly ducks out of the way when they open fire in each other's direction.
    Largo: Stop it you fools! He's got you shooting at each other.
  • Gadget Watches: Bond has a watch containing a geiger counter.
  • Gender Flip: A passing example, but the novel specifically mentions that anyone who caught a glimpse of SPECTRE would note that even roles normally filled by women in the time period were played by men; the movie has at least one woman ready to courier No. 1's orders.
  • Going Commando: When James Bond seduces Pat, she drops her uniform and she's not wearing anything underneath.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE once again lurk in the background, being behind Largo and his Evil Plan this time around. Although with Bond now facing their Number Two, it's clear a proper confrontation with Blofeld isn't far off.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: When Bond drops his gun off the roof, it fires. It would be very rare for that to happen.
  • Hand Signals: Bond exchanges an "A-Ok" sign with an American frogman who he saves from a SPECTRE henchman.
  • Harpoon Gun: The climactic battle is fought by at least fifty men armed with harpoon guns. The use of a harpoon gun on Vargas leads to the immortal line, "I think he got the point". And Largo is killed this way by Domino.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Q is dressed like one when he equips Bond in the Bahamas.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Is there any other reason, besides your enthusiasm for watersports?"
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Dr. Kutze, who throws the bomb fuses overboard and frees Domino.
    • Subverted however in the case of Fiona Volpe, who mocks Bond's presumption that she'll go over to his side after sleeping with him (probably a Call-Back to Pussy Galore's Heel–Face Turn in Goldfinger.)
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted with great prejudice on the set. Someone said, to the technician who was about to perform the Bell/Textron rocket-belt jump, that James Bond would look cooler if he didn't wear a helmet. The technician said to him, "Nuh-uh!" and kept the helmet on.
  • Hero of Another Story: Bond's comrade Double-0 agents at the briefing. It's the first time in the franchise we see them all in one place.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bond's fellow agent Paula is kidnapped by Largo's goons and taken to his estate to be tortured for information. She takes a Cyanide Pill and kills herself so she can't be made to betray Bond and the operation.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Lampshaded and subverted with SPECTRE's "Black Widow" Fiona Volpe, who warns Bond not to expect that from her. Bond, probably because he's a bed-hopping bastard, actually shrugs this off with "Well, you can't win them all". Volpe is actually the first Bond girl this doesn't work on, but it turned out he wasn't actually trying it on her in the first place.
  • High-Voltage Death: In the first scene after the opening credits, Ernst Stavro Blofeld electrocutes one of the members of SPECTRE's ruling council in his chair, in the middle of a meeting, for embezzling from their drug-dealing operation in the United States.
  • Historical Rap Sheet: There's a brief mention of SPECTRE taking a £250,000 cut of the Great Train Robbery of 1963 as a consulting fee.
  • Honour Before Reason: When standing behind a car with a woman and being shot at, Bond jogs to her side, opens the door, and then all the way around the front of the car to the opposite door (which she doesn't even reach over to open for him). Apparently being chivalrous is more important than quickly getting to safety. Either that or he knows he has Plot Armour.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Domino demands to know how Bond knew that was her name (or rather, her nickname); he says it is on the bracelet on her ankle. It's not clear he hasn't read up on her already, since the reason he is in the Bahamas is following a lead about her recently murdered brother, though it didn't lead to her directly.
    Domino: My my, what sharp eyes you have.
    Bond: (as she walks away) Wait till you get to my teeth.
  • Idiot Ball: It's probably not terribly wise to go around wearing the logo of an international terrorist organization on an oversized ring if you don't want to tip off the secret agent you just picked up that you're working for the enemy. When they got around to making Spectre, the designs on the rings are notably much more subdued.
  • Image Song: The title song by Tom Jones describes Bond perfectly.
    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: Bond offs Vargas with a spear gun and Domino impales Largo with one.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Averted just once, when Bond gets shot in the leg trying to lose pursuers in the Junkanoo parade. It's not even a Game-Breaking Injury, to add insult to that.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail:
    • Colonel Jacques Bouvar Disguised in Drag as a rich widow. Bond spots him when he opens his car door himself instead of waiting for the chauffeur to do it.
    • Downplayed with Palazzi: He says "au revoir" when the real Derval would have said "ciao," but someone calls him on it before he the impersonation goes live. Still, it's interesting that, despite all his study of Derval's voice and accent, he's still tripped up on a point of speech.
  • 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!note 
  • Infrared X-Ray Camera: Averted. The camera Q issues to Bond just lets him take pictures of the Disco Volante's exterior. Albeit in the dark and underwater.
  • Inopportune Impersonation Failure: Colonel Bouvar fakes his death and attends the funeral disguised as his widow, face carefully hidden behind a veil. James Bond is almost convinced by this display... up until the "rich widow" opens the door of the car herself instead of waiting for the chauffeur to open it for her - clueing Bond in and prompting his assassination of Bouvar.
  • Inside Job: Subverted; SPECTRE replaces Major Derval with a double to infiltrate the bomber crew.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: The Bahamas Junkanoo festival. Notably, those scenes had to be shot at another time of the year, so the film crew convinced the locals to stage an out-of-season Junkanoo for them.
  • It's Raining Men: The Coast Guard frogmen who are sent to intercept the SPECTRE frogmen who carry the nuclear bombs in the waters of Miami are parachuted over the sea.
  • Jet Pack:
    • Bond uses one in the opening to escape from Bouvar's mansion. Bonus points for this not being a special effect, but was an actual flight by a Bell Aerosystems Rocketpack provided for use in the film by the US Air Force.
    • During the underwater battle, Bond uses a Q-branch back thruster to go faster.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The film gets a couple things wrong about the Avro Vulcan.
    • The Vulcan only has a range of 2600 miles. Even assuming the jet was fully fueled for the planned exercises, that puts Fake Derval ditching in the Atlantic 1600 miles short of the Bahamas (where the bombs would have been both unrecoverable due to depth, and well beyond the range of helicopter searches from the Nassau area). The Vulcan famously did make 4,000 mile round trips several times during the Falklands War about twenty years after this film (traveling from Ascension Island to strike the Argentine-held Port Stanley airfield), but it required midair refueling.
    • When Bond dives the sunken Vulcan bomber, he enters the cockpit through a small door via the bomb bay. It is not possible to access the bomb bay of a Vulcan from the cockpit due to being separated by bulkheads, the nose gear and a fuel tank.
  • Kill and Replace: Angelo Palazzi has plastic surgery to look like pilot François Derval, then kills him and takes his place on a NATO atomic bomber.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Largo practices his aim with clay shooting in between stages of SPECTRE's plan to detonate stolen atomic bombs
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: This is only Bond film in which the villain's henchmen actually surrender after the battle in the climax. If you look closely, you can see them being taken into custody by the Coast Guard while Bond is chasing Largo on the surface.
  • Kung-Shui: Bond's fight with Jacques Bouvar leaves almost no bit furniture un-demolished.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The underwater battles are long. A common consensus today is that while in 1965 it was awesome, after aquatic shooting became kinda commonplace they're really overdrawn.
  • Legacy Character: A new Number 5 is shown at SPECTRE's board meeting, having apparently inherited the title from Kronsteen following his death two films ago.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Done by James Bond of all people.
    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?
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Used to make Angelo a dead ringer for Major Derval.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Bond and Lippe try to dispose of each other this way in the health spa.
  • The Man Behind the Man: As in From Russia with Love, Blofeld is the real villain, running things from the background.
  • Meaningful Name: Domino wears a black and white bikini at one point.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: The "purely philanthtopic" International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons is actually a front for SPECTRE.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Attempted murder of Bond → Hold the world ransom with two stolen atomic weapons.
  • Minor Major Character: The unnamed executives of SPECTRE, one of which gets electrocuted by Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
  • The Mistress: Domino is Largo's mistress when she and Bond meet.
  • Mobstacle Course: The Junkanoo chase, Bond's speed further impeded by a bullet in his calf.
  • Modesty Towel: Bond encounters Fiona in the bath, and she asks him to hand her something to wear. Bond hands her a pair of high heels. She eventually uses a face towel.
  • Moment Killer: Bond and the physiotherapist Patricia are just about to get it on when Bond sees the ambulance bringing the dead pilot back to the health spa and has to go check it out. Patricia is not happy.
  • Mythology Gag: Leiter killing a shark with a speargun could be a nod to him losing an arm and a leg to one in the novel Live and Let Die. Given what happend to him in Licence to Kill, it's grimly ironic.
  • Neck Snap: Bond does it to Col. Bouvar with a foreplace poker and to two SPECTRE frogmen during the big underwater battle at the end.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Averted: a shark gets shot, and another speared, both on-screen. A case of Values Dissonance.
  • No One Sees the Boss: The only movie where this is played straight, with Blofeld's face hidden even from his own criminal executives.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The health spa at the beginning has a back-stretching machine. The nurse straps Bond into it, turns it on and leaves the room. Somebody else comes in and turns the machine to maximum setting, which nearly kills Bond. There's no reason why that machine should be capable of doing that. (The same could be said for the steam bath Bond tries to parboil Lippe with in return.)
  • Non Violent Initial Confrontation: The gambling scene between Bond and Emilio Largo.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: After blackmailing Patricia into sleeping with him, Bond is later shown giving her a massage with a mink glove while she purrs in satisfaction.
  • A Nuclear Error: Well, Atomic, not Nuclear. And considering a recent Newsnight report, not A Nuclear Error. It's still hard to believe British air-dropped atomic bombs were protected by bicycle locks.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The executive in the briefing crew who keeps reminding everybody that if the bomb is not found the ransom payment will have to be delivered. He mentions this three times throughout the film, and are his only lines to boot.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: An obvious stunt double for Sean Connery, clad in a pink swimsuit, swimming in the canal, then emerging up the stairs and alongside the bridge
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Fiona dances with Bond while one of her gunmen is aiming at Bond's back. Bond suddenly twirls her around so she takes the bullet. And then he seats her in a chair.
    "Would you mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead".
  • Old-School Chivalry: It's also a slight plot point in the opening sequence. Bond realizes that the supposedly dead assassin is masquerading as his own widow when the veiled "woman" opens her own car door, rather than waiting for any of the surrounding men to do it.
  • 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.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: While Vargas is dropping hand grenades over the side of Largo's yacht in an attempt to kill a scuba-diving Bond, he pulls out the pins with his teeth.
  • Playing Both Sides: The SPECTRE meeting shows them distributing Red Chinese narcotics in the US while simultaneously killing an antimatter specialist who defected to the Soviets on behalf of the French Foreign Ministry.
  • Pocket Rocket Launcher: At one point of the film, SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe uses a BSA A65 Lightning motorcycle fitted with rockets to assassinate fellow agent Count Lippe because he revealed the plan’s existence to James Bond (ironically, she does this just as Lippe is in the middle of a car chase and shooting at Bond). The rockets, which come out of the Lightning’s air intakes, are approximately the size of a soda can.
  • Point That Somewhere Else: James pushes aside a rifle that Largo has casually pointed at him as a veiled threat, before taking the gun to admire it.
  • Psycho for Hire: Vargas is implied to be one of these, but it plays out with such subtlety onscreen that it comes across as more of an Informed Attribute.
  • Ransom Drop: The British Government are forced to pay SPECTRE a diamond ransom. The ransom is to be airdropped on a certain location at a certain time.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • The Bell Rocket Belt Bond uses had its natural sound replaced by a "more realistic" fire-extinguisher sound.
    • The method Bond uses to escape at the end is the Fulton Surface to Air Recovery System, which was dismissed as the fakest Bond gadget yet at the film's release (and was even dismissively "sinned" by CinemaSins when they did an "Everything Wrong With" video about the film).
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Bond has no problem walking around Nassau in a short-sleeved pink shirt.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: When Bond tells M and another government official that he discovered Derval's dead body around the same time he was supposedly flying the hijacked bomber the official with M dismisses Bond's story as fantastical, only to be sternly interrupted by M, who explains that if 007 claims to have seen Derval's corpse then that's enough to begin a serious investigation into the matter.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Fiona Volpe taunts Bond that sleeping with him was insufficient to provoke a Sex–Face Turn.
  • Red Herring: The first shot in the movie is a coffin with the monogram "JB" on it. For a moment viewers might think Bond is supposed to be dead; the woman Bond is with even lampshades this.
  • Red Right Hand: Largo has an eyepatch.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: The firing pin design of the Walther PPK should prevent an accidental discharge from dropping the gun, as happens when Bond is climbing onto the roof of Largo's mansion. The trigger has to be pulled all the way back for the gun to discharge.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: SPECTRE's attempt to kill Bond, which risked alerting his superiors to their presence. Later, Fiona tries to subvert this, saying that killing Bond would only confirm that the bombs are in Nassau.
  • Right Behind Me:
    Moneypenny: Don't pull the wool over my eyes, James. You may be able to fool the old man, but...
    M: (exiting his office) That will be all, Moneypenny. And I'll thank you not to call me "The Old Man".
  • Right-Hand Cat: Blofeld strokes his pet Persian while overseeing the board meeting.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In 1963 a gang of robbers stopped and looted a Royal Mail train. One item reported at the SPECTRE board meeting is a consultancy fee of a quarter-million pounds for the job.
  • Safety Gear Is Cowardly: Averted with great prejudice when Bond puts on a helmet before a jetpack-powered escape. Apparently, someone told the (professionally-trained) jetpack pilot that Bond was too cool to wear a helmet. The operator pretty much said, "I am wearing this helmet, okay?" in reply.
  • Samus Is a Girl: A motorcyclist kills Count Lippe driving a car and rides away. After running the cycle into a ditch, the cyclist takes off the helmet and reveals that she's SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe. The stunt double who actually rode the bike for filming was male.
  • Sauna of Death: Bond locks Count Lippe in a Turkish bath. He is able to get out offscreen, but his bungling with both Bond and Palazzi gets him blown up by Volpe.
  • Sea Hurtchin: Domino steps on an urchin spine – poisonous and painful at the same time. Taking her ashore, Bond bites the spine out.
  • Sex–Face Turn: Lampshaded and mocked spectacularly by Fiona:
    Fiona: But of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, who only has to make love to a woman, and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, and turns to the side of right and virtue...
    [she steps on Bond's foot]
    Fiona: ... but not this one!
  • Sexual Extortion: Pat coolly rebuffs Bond's flirtations, and is all business in her dealings with our boy James. But when she leaves Bond alone— and defenceless— in some sort of back-stretchy machine (that just so happens to be named after a medieval torture device), things take a turn for the worse when an enemy comes to kill him by turning the machine on too high. The therapist comes back, apologizing profusely, and begging Bond not to report her for leaving him. Bond tells her he can be convinced to keep this their little secret. In a major case of Values Dissonance, this is Played for Laughs, and is in fact one of the rare cases the film is less politically correct than the book; in the book he agrees to keep silent without a fuss and they do it perfectly consensually later on
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: As Bond and Volpe are about to have sex, it cuts to Junkanoo.
    • And before that, Bond and Patricia the nurse after he strips her down in the sauna.
  • Shark Pool: On Largo's estate, and the final resting place of the thug who Bond jumps in his hotel room. Bond later fights another henchman in it, with predictable results; he stabs the man in the stomach, and the sharks, attracted to the blood, attack the injured henchman, allowing Bond to escape.
  • Shower of Love: Actually a Sauna of Love, between Bond and a nurse at Shrublands.
  • The Smurfette Principle: It's hard to clearly see her during the briefing, but MI6 agent 003 is a woman. Not until The World Is Not Enough would another female Double-0 agent be visible at such a meeting.
  • Starter Villain: Bond has to kill SPECTRE agent Jacques Bouvar before even the opening credits roll.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: Subverted. The film opens with a close-up of a coffin with "JB" on it, leading us to assumed that Bond is dead. It turns out to be the funeral of SPECTRE agent Jacques Bouvar and Bond is there to make sure he's dead.
  • Stealing from the Till: At the SPECTRE cabinet meeting in Paris, both Numbers 9 and 11 were involved in a drug-running scheme, but it generated less than expected. When asked why, Eleven insists it was competition from rival cartels that drove prices down and states everything was accounted for. Blofeld isn't satisfied with the response, determines one of the men had stolen from him, and executes the real culprit for the theft. In fact, Number 9 was a Smug Snake during the entire time, thinking he'll get away with it and that Number 11 will be the fall person. Blofeld proves him spectacularly wrong. Truth in Television as real-life gangs have killed wayward members who tried to steal from them.
    SPECTRE Number 11: Distribution of Red China narcotics in the United States: two million three hundred thousand dollars, collected by Number 9 and myself.
    Blofeld: Two million three? Our expectations were considerably higher, Number Eleven.
    SPECTRE Number 11: Competition from Latin America. Prices are down.
    Blofeld: I anticipated that factor. Are you quite sure all monies have been accounted for by yourself and Number Nine?
    SPECTRE Number 11: To the penny, Number One.
    Blofeld: On the contrary. I have satisfied myself that one of you is clearly guilty of embezzlement. SPECTRE is a dedicated fraternity whose strength lies in the absolute integrity of its members. The culprit is known to me. I have decided on the appropriate action. [turns on switch, SPECTRE Number 9 is electrocuted in his seat. Other SPECTRE members are spooked.]
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted, as an exploding grenade, sent after diving Bond, makes him put his hands on his ears due to pain caused by the noise.
  • Storming the Castle: U.S. divers vs. SPECTRE frogmen in an undersea battle.
  • Straight Edge Evil: Vargas, as Largo explains.
    Largo: Vargas does not drink. Does not smoke. Does not make love. What do you do, Vargas?
  • Suddenly Shouting: A mook sent by Largo breaks into Bond's hotel room get he promptly gets ass handed to him by Bond. Unamused by his attempt, Bond sternly passes a message to him to send back to Largo and tells him to leave. Fearing that he will be shot in the back, Bond hands him back his Pistol (unloaded) and when he further dithers his exit...
    Bond: NOW MOVE!
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: Bond's watch contains a concealed Geiger counter.
  • Surgical Impersonation: The crux of SPECTRE's plot, having Angelo Palazzi get plastic surgery to resemble NATO pilot François Derval, who Palazzi then murders and replaces.
  • Take That!: To the Sex–Face Turn in the previous movie Goldfinger when Fiona mocks the idea that she's going to change her loyalties just because Bond has sex with her.
  • Threatening Shark: A random shark happens by the big underwater trouble, and gets speared for it.
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: Largo has James Bond at gunpoint and is about to shoot him when he is killed by a harpoon fired by Domino.
  • Title Drop: "Thunderball" is the name of the operation to retrieve the missing atomic bombs.
  • Toasted Buns: Averted with the jetpack, where the nozzles are well clear of the body. (Though the sound effect was changed because Reality Is Unrealistic).
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • What's more stupid? Trying to embezzle money from a man as infamously ruthless as Blofeld or thinking you could actually get away with it?
    • Angelo deciding it's a brilliant idea to, at the last minute, try to hold out for more money from a group clearly ready to kill anyone to get their way. It's even hinted they were always going to eliminate him once he finished the job and he just gave them a better excuse to do it.
  • 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.
  • Trail of Blood: Shot in the ankle, Bond leaves a blood trail that causes mooks to follow him to a nightclub. Bond, ever the ladies man, dances with the female leader of the group, and manages to get her to take the bullet meant for him.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Bond and Domino have one in the ocean, underwater (thanks to scuba gear). In Real Life it would probably result in the death or injury of one or both participants.
  • Underwater Kiss: Bond and Domino have sex entirely underwater at one point. Mind you, they had SCUBA gear on.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The SPECTRE members are horrifed when Blofeld executes the treacherous operative - apart from Largo, who's casually going through his papers and treats it as just another day at the office.
  • Villain Ball: Count Lippe's attempt to kill Bond, which endangered SPECTRE's operation as it turned out to be a Revealing Cover-Up. It could be considered justified because he 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 Breakdown: Once his plans go south, Emilio Largo tortures Domino and tries to kill Bond after his plan is completely foiled.
  • Villainous Rescue: Count Lippe is blown up before he can kill Bond; the trope is more overt in the novel. In the movie Bond is about to take out Lippe with his Bond car gadgets when Lippe's car suddenly explodes, destroyed by Fiona Volpe's own Weaponized Car.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: The less explicit, but appear to be talking about a man who "looks at the world and wants it all", and "strikes like Thunderball". The whole point of that song was that it could be either about Bond or Largo.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: As in the original novel, SPECTRE operates as a charity aiding refugees with HQ in Paris.
  • Visible Boom Mic: As Bond goes down the stairs while listening to BBC Overseas Service announcement that Big Ben struck seven times instead of six at 6pm.
  • The Voiceless: Vargas is never heard speaking. He only screams when Bond shoots him with a harpoon gun.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Bond's killing of Colonel Jacques Bouvar at the start of the movie.
  • The War Room: Production designer Ken Adam designed two for Thunderball. The cold, metallic and black SPECTRE conference room, and the MI6's more classical style conference room with huge windows and tapestries.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: Largo owns a yacht, the Disco Volante (Flying Saucer). Its front part is a detachable hydrofoil.
  • Weaponized Car: The Aston Martin DB5 makes another appearance in the pre-title sequence. Fiona Volpe rides a BSA Lightning motorcycle.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Bond's hat mysteriously vanishes during his meeting with the Home Secretary. It gets mentioned briefly during an awkward moment, but never comes up again.
    • For a more serious example, there's Dr. Kutze, whom Bond has dive into the water following his Heel–Face Turn despite not being able to swim, and doesn't appear for the remaining five minutes of film.
  • Widow's Weeds: Subverted. While James Bond is watching the funeral of SPECTRE agent Colonel Jacques Bouvar, he sees that Bouvar's widow is wearing a black dress, hat and veil. Then he realizes that the widow isn't a woman at all...but a man, baby!
  • Would Hit a Girl: Bond intentionally forces Fiona to take a bullet meant for him.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Blofeld electrocutes a SPECTRE member for embezzlement after sweating his partner on their drug-smuggling ring. Most of the other members present are stunned.
    • Largo throws Quist into his shark pool after Bond sends him packing.
    • Count Lippe tries and fails to kill Bond. He is then killed himself, for failing, because this attempt is what made Bond realize something was up, and for hiring an impersonator who demanded a raise in the middle of SPECTRE's operation and threatened to derail it if they didn't comply (that man is killed himself by Largo). It also introduces Fiona, who is apparently tasked with killing SPECTRE agents who fail.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Angelo Palazzi, the impersonator, demanded a raise immediately before his mission of stealing the atomic bombs. He smugly points out that with so much time and effort already spent on the plot, there's no way SPECTRE would walk away from it now, certainly not over a pay dispute. His boss, Emilio Largo, was not pleased and kills him right after he delivers the goods. Whether or not this was always the plan, or only done because he demanded more money is unclear.
    • A secondary example happens when the Disco Volante jettisons its rear cocoon, leaving the aft crew to fend for themselves in a losing battle against the US Coast Guard.


Video Example(s):


Number 11 and Blofeld

At the SPECTRE cabinet meeting in Paris, both Numbers 9 and 11 were involved in a drug-running scheme, but it generated less than expected. When asked why, Eleven insists it was competition from rival cartels that drove prices down and states everything was accounted for. Blofeld isn't satisfied with the response, determines one of the men had stolen from him, and executes the real culprit for the theft. In fact, Number 9 was a Smug Snake during the entire time, thinking he'll get away with it and that Number 11 will be the fall person. Blofeld proves him spectacularly wrong.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / StealingFromTheTill

Media sources: