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Thursday, August 17, 2006

HE STRIKES LIKE ... FUN-DERBALL! 

Let me first say this about Thunderball the 1965 movie: If you think Tom Jones singing the theme for a James Bond movie is an AWESOME idea, then Thunderball is the movie for you. Wow! This is one crazy movie, from Tom Jones singing "Thunderball" to the shark pools to the SPECTRE meeting to Fiona Volpe's robin-egg blue Mustang to the epic battle of the frog-people to Nassau's crazy festive parades to the Disco Volante to the fight in the health spa to the jet pack to the baccarat game to the villain's eye patch. The fun never stops.

Which is why I call it FUN-DERBALL.

I've already described the plot of Thunderball and the 1965 film follows the Fleming novel reasonably closely. James Bond beats up a grieving widow. Bond beats people up at a health spa, meets girl. SPECTRE steals nuclear missles. Bond goes to the Bahamas, meets girl. Bond spies on bad guy with eye patch, meets girl. Bond trespasses on bad guy's Nassau estate, meets dead girl. Bond pulls bad girl in front of him while escaping, girl is shot and killed. Bond persuades girl to spy on bad guy by telling her bad guy killed her brother. Bond summons an army of frog-people and bad guy is defeated.

The filmmakers added the villainess Fiona Volpe as an operative of SPECTRE who does an awful lot of Largo's dirty work. She drives the Mustang. When Bond is trying to escape by mingling with dancers at a club, Fiona Volpe cuts in, and Bond twists her around to take the bullet. The third Austin Powers film really had a bit of fun with this scene. It seems pretty cold, but Bond has just found a female British Secret Service agent tortured to death by Largo's men, and he's not inclined to be forgiving.

(When they remade Thunderball as Never Say Never Again, they kept the basic character of a female assasin/fixer assistant to Largo and called her Fatima Blush.)

The girl playing Domino is pretty good, very attractive, but she never "drives like a man" like it is in the novel. No, in the film, she swims like a man. Fiona Volpe is the one who drives all crazy.

The villain is Emilio Largo, an agent of SPECTRE. He has an eyepatch, and Blofeld calls him Number Two once or twice, so he is the inspiration for Number Two in the Austin Powers films, played by both Robert Wagner and Rob Lowe. In the original Thunderbal, Largo is played very menacingly by the Italian actor Adolfo Celi. I don't think Adolfo Celi's Largo would think the Austin Powers films are funny. He glares a lot. Look at him! He's glaring again! Now he's feeing one of his henchmen to the sharks! Ouch! It must be hard to get any experience fighting James Bond because all the bad guys kill their minions who fail. Dummies! Now he's going to torture Domino with a lit cigarette and an ice cube! Oh, he's mean! Then he gets in a big fight with Bond on the Disco Volante and they really beat each other up and then Domino shoots him with a spear gun just as he's about to kill Bond! Hoo-ray for Domino! (Even if the movie Domino doesn't drive like a man, she's still pretty cool.)

Yow, I love this movie. Fun, fun, fun. Did you know this is the first Bond film to go over two hours? It's not really a problem. Yeah, sure, the frog-people war seems to go on forever, but it's pretty cool, lots of bubbles, sharks, spear guns, thrashing about, underwater explosions, blood and stuff. I couldn't tell what was going on much of the time, but they finally chased Largo back onto his boat and they took off their masks and you could finally tell what was going on. And the bad guys lost and the Free World dodged another bullet! Good show!

Sean Connery IS James Bond. How many times do I have to say that?

He strikes like ... FUN-DERBALL!

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