No copyright infringement is intended · James Bond copyrights held by Danjaq LLC · United Artists Corporation · Ian Fleming Publications Ltd
 

Original feature from the July 13th 1965 edition - transcribed with original spelling.

 

REJOICE! James Bond is off to the chase again. 007 must save our bumbling, sleeping world. Emilio Largo, that eye-patched paw of SPECTRE, has snatched a British bomber complete with armed H-bombs. Largo, black-mailer extraordinaire, wants £100,000,000 from the free world. Else, he will blow up an unnamed city - like Miami, Fla. Who can humble, foil and kill Largo? Who else?

Reluctantly, M, the pipe-smoking, tut-tutting head of Her Majesty's Secret Service, springs Bond for the job. M knows that 007 wearies his pistol hand with wine, women and cards. But M also knows 007 enjoys blotting people out. As Operation Thunderball bounces into action, chiefs of state, admirals and generals sweat and stammer tactics in coded cables.

Bond fumbles it alone, just as he did in Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. His helpers are like people who fill bat racks. Thunderball, fourth film based on the secret-agent novels of Ian Fleming, stars Sean Connery again. Locales are Paris, London, Nassau, land, sea, air and improbability. No matter. Bond sharpens his taste for vodka and women.

James Bond has an endearing boyish trait. He goes to bed early. Women don't care that his body is a Pollock canvas of reds, blacks and blues, a body stained by floggings, fists, pistols, stompings and the dust of guano. They love him. In earlier films, 007 wooed Honeychile, Tatiana, Pussy Galore; they were just main events. In Thunderball, he wins Domino.

As cinema lovers, Sean Connery (Scotsman) and Richard Burton (Welshman) have laid the ghost of the chinless, tea-sipping British Romeo. Yet Ian Fleming's fans have a puzzle: Bond's love life is a lovely riddle, despite his brief marriage to Tracy. For 007 never stays put to meet the parson or the bloody payments on a split-level honeymoon cottage. Actually, long ago such reluctance drove Don Juan to hell. The Don dreaded the inevitable plaint of his conquests: "When will I see you again?" D.J. always fled. Bond does same; 007 cleans up a caper, kisses, showers and jets back to his London bachelor flat. There waits the faithful, clucking May, his gray-haired Scottish housekeeper. She is a - Nanny.

Bond's truth emerges: Forget the gorgeous birds. Nanny knows best.

If you play with fire, you know what happens. Bond is a five-alarm conflagration for foe and friend. The movies bank him a little, but he remains inferno.

Jill Masterson betrays Goldfinger, coddles 007, so Goldfinger paints her out of this world. Vesper cheats her masters, makes the earth move with James and kills herself. Kerim, Bond's Turkish bat man in From Russia With Love, goes to a leaden reward. In Thunderball, SPECTRE sinks poor Paula. Paula thought that running around with 007 was better than running a Nassau gift shop. Now, she knows.

If Bond is a Superman or a Tarzan, his adversaries are Satans paying doomed visits to our planet. They rub their hands and set snares baited with luscious dames. Fools! They all fall down and go BOOM as Goldfinger did, or GLUB as Dr. No did in a radioactive tankful of water, or SSSST as Oddjob did against an oversized toaster in Goldfinger.

Ian Fleming, for all the curled lips of some critics, did create incredible villains who are believable fun. Rosa Klebb, that twisted maniac with those knife-flicking shoes, is dead. But the Bond loyalists pine for her. They will be bereaved, too, over the fate of Emilio Largo in Thunderball. This supercrook slaves for POWER and the joy of pulling off an impossible crime. He, too, has gimmicks (a fly-away hydrofoil, sharks, two-man submarines, radar) to blank out Bond. But he may as well forget them.

When Largo jousts with Bond, the fiend discovers that his weapons are merely little boy's tinkertoys.

JAMES BOND - or Bondism or 007-ism - is a happy fever rampant through the world. 007 is cheered in movie houses in Peoria, London, Paris, Madrid, West Berlin and Tokyo. Immunity shields you from Bond only if you reject violent, foolish entertainment or require a hero who writhes through too many reels at the faintest memory of Mother's First Frown. Mr. Bond is not out of the Stanislavsky stable.

Ian Fleming created him in 1951 (Casino Royale) as the hero of improbable tales, a British secret agent immortal in combat, snobbish in the selection of maidens and martinis, unswerving in his devotion to The Crown and to his hopped-up Bentley motor car (painted battleship gray). Bond is a bright, amusing fiction in the shadowy business of espionage. He comforts. When a real agent gets exposed, the whole world trembles. Too much is at stake.

Actual spies are colorless men and women (as they must be), and they blend into gray offices loaded with computers or laboratories stacked with Einsteinian formulae. These people eat in cafeterias, live in ordinary apartments and often owe money. They are nervous nondescripts and blow the job, eventually.

Not so with James Bond, who is dashing, handsome, assertive. He hates paper shuffling and loves his Walther pistol. He takes in worldly pleasures as easily as a cluster of seedless grapes, and buys women $750 diamond clips. Bond is a great gambler. When he calls for chips at an elegant casino, immediately the dealers blow on their manicured fingernails. They know that the fellow with that black comma of hair over the right eye is - trouble.

Fleming's books sold well enough, but remained something of a cache. They were "in" trifles; the late President John F. Kennedy was one reader who enjoyed them. The movies fanned Bond into a rage, and Fleming's books, printed in 11 languages, have now sold more than 40 million copies. The fire was built by Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger.

All star Sean Connery, a 34-year-old Scotsman who chose acting as a career on impulse in 1953. Now, the usual believers insist Connery is James Bond. He chafes, no, and seethes when people ask him about the possible similarities between 007 and himself. Big-boned, 6'2" with brown hair (Bond's is black) and brown eyes (Bond's are blue), Connery speaks with a burr that one other Scotsman compares to the kind of American English spoken by residents of New York's Bronx. Like Bond, he plays golf. Connery has read but two Fleming books, gives no comment about either.

He is a player in a special kind of comedy, and he gives his role the easiness that makes these gory spoofs manna for the believers. Goldfinger, which has grossed more than $40 million, crested the wave that is washing out box-office history. It also sent forth hordes of producers and actors into the conspirator industry. TV already has NBC's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Richard Burton stars in the movie The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. And The Ipcress File, Passport to Oblivion, The Liquidator and many more are on their way.

Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli produced the first Bonds. Joining them in Thunderball is Kevin McClory, who won the film rights to the novel after extended court debate with Fleming. He is one of three writers who share credit for the Nassau epic of 007.

McClory, 40, has been in movies almost all of his life. He worked for Mike Todd and once produced an art film about a boy and a bridge that won awards but broke McClory. He remembers, "Mike told me you couldn't eat plaques or awards. It is the best advice anyone ever gave me." McClory, familiar with the Bahamas, suggested Thunderball to Fleming as a script that could be turned into a novel. It became both. McClory says, "Sean is the best for Bond."

The producers know, also, there have been at least 12 Tarzans, but there may be only one Bond. "Sean," Saltzman says, "is the ideal marriage of actor and character." In 1961, when Connery came into the London offices of Eon Productions to talk about his first assignment in the spy business, he wore a sweater, slacks and loafers. He put his feet on Broccoli's desk. He began to pound when the talk swung to the exclusivity of his servives, something all producers demand and get (if they can) from an actor. Saltzman and Broccoli had the options on all of Fleming's works except two. Connery signed for six Bond films, but won the right to do other work. He had acted on the stage, in British television and U.S. movies, had never achieved great success, but was confident. Broccoli says: "When Sean left the office, I watched him walk along Audley Square. He moved like a cat. That did it for us. Harry and I said, 'This is the guy.' Sean plays Bond, and it seems like a cinch, but he is damned clever at it. Bond is a tough assignment."

The first two thrillers were made on low budgets. Skillful spoofs, they thrust James Bond to center stage. Book sales increased. Kids began collecting 007 trading cards. With these profits in the can, Eon Productions moved the Goldfinger budget to $2.5 million. The sweet and troublesome smell of success hung in the air as all the elements of Fleming howl and horror got hot. Given a better deck of trick cards to deal, art director Ken Adam laid out a lot of aces. Bond got a supercar, a wild Aston Martin. It was an armored racer but could have won at the Grand Prix and Bastogne. The publicity about Bond films claimed they were "larger than life," and Adam improved on the cliché with a replica of Fort Knox, which seemed bigger than all Kentucky. Auric Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce (almost solid "gold") and Oddjob's iron derby were ordinary gimmicks, but they played as masterful bits of business. The big-beat theme music was marvelous.

Sean Connery had to emerge on top of all this competition. He sensed it. He was also concerned about his original contract. Estimates vary, but he was paid between $16,000 and $35,000 for Dr. No, was to get about $200,000 for Goldfinger. Connery's role calls for a lot of action. In one tussling scene, he got jostled about and went home with a sore neck. He did not return for four days. During that time, his contract was renegotiated, and he wound up with a new deal that gave him five percent of the picture's gross. He stands to make at least $1,000,000 from Goldfinger alone. His fee for acting in The Hill, an un-Bond picture, was $400,000. By now, Connery had come all the way from a chorus boy who worked for about $35 a week in a British road company of South Pacific.

Once, Connery told LOOK's Stanley Gordon, "America has too much pressure. If you don't have money, you're in trouble. It's even too expensive for motorists here. One doesn't mind buying a car and paying the road tax, but when you have to pay to park the bloody thing, it's too much." Today, he doesn't feel such pressure.

The Nassau shooting of Thunderball began in April. Jets bore 102 actors and technicians and 12 ½ tons of gear from England to the Bahamas. Work was hustled on the full-scale copy of a Vulcan bomber, the hydrofoil Disco Volante and the submarines. Tiger sharks were caught and tied, parades staged, cans of Panavision and Technicolor film shot. The budget was $5.5 million.

Connery was the eye of this hurricane of activity. He had arrived with special problems. They were marital; he and his wife, Diane Cilento, were apparently separated. The crush of the press was historic. Connery was dogged by reporters and photographers from all over the world. He found hideouts at Lyford Cay, then at Love Beach; it was there that Mrs. Connery and their young son, Jason, joined him several weeks after his arrival. Now there was a story. For Tom Carlile, the publicity director, there were questions like this: "Did Diane stay with Sean at Love Beach? Hmm. In his house, in the same room? Hmm. Do they have twin beds?" Carlile is 6'8". The lines on his face grew as long as his legs while he swatted away such gnats.

Connery talked to very few people apart from company associates in Nassau. He did his work: He got into the pool with exhausted tiger sharks, played fight and love scenes, "battled" with villains and posed for photographs on very tight schedules. He also managed 18 holes of golf almost every day. His handicap is nine.

"Without golf," a friend says, "Sean would go right around the bend." Connery became addicted to the game during his visits to California. He started on miniature courses, then graduated. But he shied from private clubs and played on public links.

Terence Young is directing Thunderball. Young beckons Connery onto a set with the cry, "All right, Barrymore, you're on!" He believes Connery is an actor who is just beginning; Young would like to see him play Bothwell, for who Mary, Queen of Scots, gave up all. "Connery has the physical presence to make her action believable. All of this success hasn't changed Sean one iota, subtly or unsubtly, period. He is still the same fellow who can play Hotspur (the British critics compared him to Olivier) and the role of Giraudoux's Holofernes. He is a very good comedian with a quick wit, not with schoolboy's humor, and he is very well read. Don't ever unkid that. When I direct him, I want him relaxed. When you talk to him, talk theater. He will relax."

One night, after scuffling for the cameras with a SPECTRE thug, Connery relaxed alongside one of two swimming pools on Livingston Sullivan's Rock Point estate. He was dressed in the black SPECTRE costume; sweat trickled down his face. His voice was hoarse. He croaked, "I've had everything here from the trots to leprosy."

Connery believes that leading male actors are the products of cycles: "A different actor lasts about 10 years. There was the time of the fair-haired lead, with the aquiline nose. He was a romantic conception of a period. Then there were the Garfields, the Lee Cobbs, the Brandos, probably the best of later actors to come out of New York. There are boyish ones, like Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, aesthetic in appearance. Europeans have gone the other way. Jean-Paul Belmundo, for example. It is all a cycle. Look at Leslie Howard, when England was producing that sort of an actor."

Does he fear being frozen in the Bond mold, as Brando remains forever shrouded in his torn T-shirt and jeans? "If one weren't realistic, it could be a problem," Connery admits. "I make a Bond every 14 months. You must realize that no one imagined that Bond would take off in such a phemomenal way. What you do is close your eyes and ears a lot and carry on the best you can."

Connery's contract calls for two more Bonds with Saltzman and Broccoli. Charles Feldman owns Casino Royale. Is it true Connery wants $1 million and 10 per cent of the gross for doing that film?

"Yes, that's so."

Thunderball will be another Christmas present for moviegoers from Eon studios, and will be released by United Artists. A blizzard of 007 merchandise will precede and attend the movie. Jay Emmett, the chairman of Licensing Corporation of America, believed in Sherlock Holmes when he was a kid. Today, he believes in James Bond. Emmet predicts $40,000,000 in sales of 007 products, which include shoes, cards, toys, toiletries and, it figures, the sleeping coats 007 wears. Women can buy those too. Bond is blue chip for everybody, and certainly for Sean Connery.

In The Hill, Connery plays a sergeant with a crew cut and a mustache. The movie opened in Paris recently. When his face flashed on the screen, there was an excited roar: "James Bond."

Bond goes it alone, but Connery will always have 007 with him.

end