Even after several decades and numerous Bonds, it remains a fact that THUNDERBALL, Bond’s fourth big screen adventure, is The Biggest Bond of all! Bond’s producers at EON finally reached an agreement with Kevin McClory as James Bond became an international pop icon. GOLDFINGER had broken records, and all the stops were pulled out to make sure THUNDERBALL delivered to audiences what they expected. The result is breathless action from start to finish as Bond searches for a pair of nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE.
The film was box office gold and shattered records. Bondmania was now in full bloom, and similar secret agents were quick in hitting the scene in THUNDERBALL‘s wake. A television special used clips from the previous films to whet appetites for the release. Merchandise (which included everything from official Bond toys to clothing) flew off shelves. When one speaks of major events in movie history, the release of THUNDERBALL is right up there! McClory retained the rights to many elements of the story and planned a remake of the film. That didn’t happen until 1983, when Sean Connery returned to play the screen’s most iconic spy in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. Though this film existed outside of the official EON releases, it was nonetheless a cause for excitement with fans. The film’s release was also in competition with the official Bond film OCTOPUSSY. NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN managed to hit screens first, but Roger Moore’s film ultimately did better at the box office. There was talk of yet another remake around the turn of the century, but nothing came of it. Though subsequent films have featured even larger budgets and even wilder action, THUNDERBALL remains in many ways the definitive James Bond movie. I once screened GOLDFINGER and THUNDERBALL back-to-back and felt pummeled when it was over. Some entries may have better scripts, but few are this exciting! Other Bonds are movies, but THUNDERBALL remains an experience.