Website last updated: 17-7-2024

55th Anniversary of Thunderball (1965) starring Sean Connery

By: Anders Frejdh
Thunderball 50th Anniversary
On this day in Bond history, 1965's Thunderball, Sean Connery's fourth film as Ian Fleming's James Bond, premiered at cinemas 55 years ago. (Thunderball was first released in Japan on 9th December 1965. The Swedish premiere took place on 17th December 1965. In the United States, the film premiered on 21st December and in the UK on 29th December 1965.)

The criminal organisation SPECTRE hijack an RAF Vulcan bomber and hold the Western World to ransom with its deadly cargo of atomic bombs.

This film, billed as the biggest Bond of all, was directed by Terence Young (his third and final Bond at the helm). It was awarded with an Academy Award for Best Special Effects (to John Stears) as one of only three Bond films to receive that honour ("Goldfinger" got one for Best Sound Editing and "Skyfall" got two for Best Song and Best Sound Editing respectively).

Dubbing editor Norman Wanstall says that he immediately recognised the biggest challenge for him would to be the underwater scenes. He experimented at an early stage with various basey water sounds which composer John Barry listened to with great interest. Barry said he would compose in a higher register to complement the basey water atmospheres, but whether this was a success in the final analysis is open to question. As an example of a highly dramatic sound that he had faked in the recording studio, Norman nominates the Vulcan bomber crash-landing on the surface of the ocean.

Production notes (Source: MGM / Eon Productions)
• 16 Feb 1965: Shooting began on Thunderball. The film’s opening scene was the first scene shot
• 19 Feb 1965: Terence Young shot the scene in which Bond escapes via jetpack
• 22 Feb 1965: Terence Young shot the scene in which Bond attacks ‘Mme Boitier’
• 27 Feb 1965: The scene where Bond discovers there’s something odd about Count Lippe was shot
• 16 Mar 1965: Terence Young filmed Bond and Fiona Volpe’s love scene
• 18 Mar 1965: Terence Young shot the scene in which Bond beats Largo at cards
• 29 Mar 1965: Terence Young shot the scene in which Bond and Domino are spied on by Vargas (he’s killed by Bond)
• 8 Apr 1965: Shooting began on the underwater fight scenes at Potter’s Wharf, Nassau
• 26 Apr 1965: Young shot Bond's arrival at Largo's Palmyra Estate at Rock Point, Bahamas
• 27 Apr 1965: The scene where SPECTRE try to kill Bond by throwing him to the sharks was shot
• 11 May 1965: Shooting began on the underwater finale, off Lyford Cay
• 18 May 1965: Filming was completed on the underwater finale
• 24 May 1965: Bernard Lee and Sean Connery filmed M’s briefing of Bond
• 26 May 1965: Desmond Llewelyn filmed his one scene as Q, giving Bond gadgets including the Geiger counter watch
• 2 Jun 1965: Terence Young directed Emilio Largo’s death on Stage E at Pinewood Studios
• 21 Jun 1965: The crew filmed the chase involving Lippe, Fiona Volpe and Bond at Silverstone
• 25 Jun 1965: The scene shot in which Blofeld electrocutes SPECTRE#11 for embezzlement

A selection of filming locations for Thunderball:
• Avenue d'Eylau, Paris 16, Paris, France (HQ for SPECTRE with Eifel Tower in the background)
• Bay Street, Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas (Junkanoo Mardi-Gras/Bond introduces Felix Leiter to Paula and Pinder)
• Breakwater, North Shore, Paradise Island, Bahamas (diving scenes with Largo's henchmen)
• Cafe Martinique, Paradise Lagoon, Paradise Island, Bahamas (Bond has dinner and dances with Domino/Bond gambles with Largo)
• Chalfont Park House, Chalfont Park, Buckinghamshire, England (Shrublands health clinic)
• Château d'Anet, Anet, Eure-et-Loir, France (Funeral and fight scenes in opening sequence)
• Clifton Bluff, Nassau Harbour, Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas (underwater battle scenes)
• Clifton Pier, Nassau Harbour, Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas (Bond & Domino underwater love scenes)
• Clifton Wall, Nassau Harbour, Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas (underwater hiding place of stolen Vulcan bomber)
• Denham Quarry Lakes, South Harefield, Uxbridge, Middlesex, England (Fiona Volpe B.S.A motorcycle dumping)
• Golden Grotto/Thunderball Reef, Off Staniel Cay, The Exumas, Bahamas (spear-gun battle)
• Kiss Kiss Club, Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas (Kiss Kiss Club sequence)
• Love Beach, North Shore, New Providence Island, Bahamas (Vargas ambush attempt to kill Domino and Bond)
• Lyford Cay, New Providence Island, Bahamas (underwater battle)
• Miami, Florida, USA (off the coast - US Navy parachuting scene)
• Paradise Beach, Paradise Island, Bahamas (Bond and Domino arrive ashore)
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England (studio)
• Pont d'Arcole, Seine River, Paris, France (opening sequence)
• Rock Point, Off West Bay Street, North Shore, West Providence Island, Bahamas (Largo's lair/Palmyra Estate)
• Rose Island, New Providence Island, Bahamas (Crash-landing of Vulcan Bomber off the sea of)
• Royal Saracen's Head, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England (car arriving at pilot's hotel)
• Silver Springs, 5656 E. Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala, Florida, USA (underwater close-up shots)
• Silverstone Racetrack, Northamptonshire, England, UK (chase with Bond, Lippe & Volpe)
• Thunderball Grotto, Off Staniel Cay, The Exumas, Bahamas (Felix Leiter rescues James Bond to safety by winch)
• Vulcan Bomber wreck, South Ocean, New Providence Island, Bahamas (underwater scenes)

Vehicles used during the filming: (Source: BMT 216A: The James Bond Vehicle Library)
• Aston Martin DB5
• Avro Vulcan B.1
• Bell 47J
• Bell Aerosystems Rocketbelt
• Boing B-17 - Rescue plane
• BSA A65 Lightning
• Buehler Turbocraft
• Disco Volante Hydrofoil yacht
• Ford Mustang convertible
• Ford Skyliner - 1957
• Ford station wagon - 1965
• Lincoln Continental
• Moris Minor 1000 cabriolet
• Sikorsky S-62
• Small underwater sledge
• Speedboat
• Underwater-sledge

Over the years, FSWL has been fortunate to meet some of the cast and crew from Thunderball:

>Albert R. Broccoli (producer)
>Desmond Llewelyn (actor)
>Don Black (lyricist of "Thunderball")
>Earl Cameron (actor)
>Harry Saltzman (producer)
>John Barry (soundtrack composer)
>Ken Adam (production designer)
>Lois Maxwell (actress)
>Luciana Paluzzi (actress)
>Martine Beswicke (actress) >interview with Martine
>Mollie Peters (actress)
>Monty Norman (composer of the James Bond theme)
>Norman Wanstall (dubbing editor)
>Nosher Powell (stuntman)
>Paul Stassino (actor)
>Peter Hunt (editor)
>Richard Graydon (stuntman)
>Richard Maibaum (screenwriter)
>Rocky Taylor (stuntman)
>Sean Connery (actor)

United Artists, Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli present Ian Fleming's James Bond in Thunderball:

Photo above:
The original Swedish film poster for Thunderball (1965) from FSWL's private collection.

Read more about the film Thunderball on MGM's official website:



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