40th Anniversary of Thunderball in London
Thunderball (1965) is the most successful film in the entire Bond series, in inflation-adjusted terms, having earned nearly $900 million worldwide in theatrical revenue alone! It is also a special film in heart of many Bond fans.
Therefore, this event was a fitting and timely celebration and was special by the presence of some rarely seen personalities from the incredible world of 007. The son of legendary film producer Harry Saltzman i.e. Steven Saltzman and also Harry Saltzman’s personal secretary throughout his working career, Sue St. John. Steven flew in specifically for this event from Monaco – having just spent the previous evening with Princess Victoria of Sweden. For that reason alone, it made it worthwhile to attend this event, especially more so for me, being a proud Swede. If Mr Saltzman made the effort, so should I!
Other Bond celebrities attending were the son of Desmond Llewelyn, Justin Llewelyn, who is a representative of Taittinger, who graciously sponsored the event with many magnums of their fine champagne - much to the delight of all of those attending (hic!)
Euan Lloyd, a successful film producer himself with films such as Shalako (1968) starring Sean Connery and also The Wild Geese starring Sir Roger Moore. He was also a long-time friend with the other legendary Bond producer, Albert R. Broccoli, and therefore contributed with many fond memories from his friendship with ‘Cubby’ during the on-stage-interview inside Ciné Lumière. (a cinema located in South Kensington, near the heart of London).
Another gentleman who made it an unforgettable event to remember was Peter Janson-Smith, Ian Fleming’s literary agent and the man behind the worldwide sale of the James Bond novels. When he retired in 2001, the Bond novels including. the ones written by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson had sold almost 100 million copies worldwide!
Two other major contributors to the successful 007 film series were seven-time Production Designer (including Thunderball) and two-time Oscar winner, Sir Ken Adam, and Thunderball art director Peter Murton, who later went on to design The Man with the Golden Gun. Sir Ken was interviewed by another knight of the realm, Sir Christopher Frayling in conjunction with their new book The Art of Production Design.
Bond composer David Arnold was on hand to present the first Cinema Retro Magazine award to his colleague and classic Bond lyricist, Don Black. Black was touched to receive the award and felt very honoured to have been chosen to inaugurate the newly founded award for his contribution to the film and music business including writing the lyrics to the Bond songs, Thunderball (1965), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), "Surrender" for Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and "Only Myself to Blame" for The World Is Not Enough (1999) amongst many classic tunes including his 1966 Oscar-winning title song to the film Born Free!
Other special guests on this event included Earl Cameron – the calm and charming gentleman originally from Bermuda (recently appearing in the film ‘The Interpreter’ starring Nicole Kidman), George Leech – a legend in the stunt business doubling for three of the actors playing Bond among many career achievements, Martine Beswicke – the lovely Jamaican beauty full of energy as usual and finally Mollie Peters – the most adorable and friendly English woman one could think of.
Also present was the author of the newly novels about the young James Bond, Charlie Higson, and the Sean Connery-look alike, Nick Richmond.
Besides seeing all of these personalities associated with James Bond, it was a thrill to be able to watch the best remaining copy of Thunderball on the big screen. The copy was in fact sent to this event directly from the vault of MGM for the purpose to be shown on this celebration. From a personal point of view I have never seen it on the big screen before and would really recommend anyone to see it this way: the charming and cool beauty ‘Fiona Volpe’ in the shape of actress Luciana Paluzzi really makes it worthwhile, Also, the screening of the documentary A Child’s Guide To Blowing Up A Motor Car was a joy and very amusing to be able to see for the first and probably only time as it’s another treasure from a vault, this time courtesy of Ford Automobile.
Another one-time opportunity was to hang around at ‘Café Martinique’ as it doesn’t exist anymore as the real location in Bahamas has been removed.
This event, honouring the ‘The BIGGEST Bond of All’, was overall a great success if one looks at the faces of the all the 140 attendees at the end a day, filled with over eight hours of hardcore ‘Bonding’. All of whom exited the doors at the end of the day with a goodie bag in their hands, consisting among several things of a limited souvenir programme in the memory of this film.
Finally, a big thanks to the organisers; Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall of Cinema Retro, Gareth Owen and Andy Boyle of Bondstars, James Page and James Wheatley of MI6, for making this day a truly long-lasting memory inside the hearts of genuine Bond fans!
Anders Frejdh © 2005 From Sweden With Love