The Journal by TWC is exactly that, a Journal of a life, of sorts, a collection of articles written and curated by Thomas W Coombs esq. On a variety of topics that many of us love and enjoy. From fashion to cocktails, travel to wine and some of the simple things in life in between, be it literature, photography or film.

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Issue 36; Double Oh, 4

I will continue my journey through Bond where I left off, so follow me through Bond to another Bond and Back again. To look back at the reason behind this series of articles was one of love, for a film franchise which has spanned 59 years next April.  But also to see what as an adult and self appointed film connoisseur I think of the now fifty plus year old films.  And here I find myself at the fourth film in the series, also known as the one I usually forget about.

The name sticks in my mind, but the plot is forgettable in the oddly titled, Thunderball.  More than any other reason for the dull feeling I get with this film is the underwater scenes.  I am sure in 1965, these were incredible to watch but seeing them now just makes for long drawn out scenes with little suspense, some might say like my writing, but at least I don’t take it too seriously, unlike these slow fight scenes.

The plot is a classic spy thriller one with the loss of two atomic bombs, then stolen by our villain of the piece, Emilio Largo, played by Adolfo Celi and is another well played character the patch making him what is now a staple Bond enemy.  Crying blood anyone?  And the best part of the film is when Bond and Largo meet in the casino and know who each other are but play an intellectual game of cat and mouse, each man playing both parts of the chase.  But much of the film after this point flattens and until we get to the final act on the futuristic underwater base it all gets pretty much left behind.  I may be on my own but it was marketed due to the dive scenes, so maybe I know nothing.  One thing did come out of this film, apart from Adolfo Celi, it was the pool scene with the sharks, used so many times since for forgettable villains of other films, this is an iconic scene.  But in 1967, things were going to get a whole lot worse.

I think at this time in Hollywood sci-fi was taking over a bit and the space race was in full swing so EON and Bond cashed in with shuttles being hijacked in space.  But that was not the most absurd idea in this film because who can forget when Sean Connery was disguised as a Japanese fisherman.  I am not even complaining about it like we would if this was tried in 2020, it was just silly when I first picked up Bond as a child, but really it was horribly ridiculous.  And now in my adult years I can really only think of Team America.  The whole disguise was not required and when you watch the film you soon realise that they could have got him to where he needed to be without the bad disguise that made him look more like Mr Spook than a Japanese fisherman and never could work out why he needed to pretend to marry someone. The film mostly just opened the door for Blofeld to be revealed who was played amazingly by Donald Pleasence this once.  Even though the film once released was a great success it did have a couple of not so good reviews, but that is how times change I suppose as now it would be seen as a bit more of a flop with the plot being slim.

At this time Sean Connery decided he had had enough of depicting Bond and retired, opening the door for a great actor to take it on.  Alas this was not the case and they picked a model instead, with no acting credits, at all.  To be honest it was quite obvious and we were introduced to the most un-Bond Bond we had seen. 

“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” we meet Bond on the hunt for Blofeld as he tracks down a known associate, in the only way Bond knows, by seducing that person's daughter.  I did find this film heavy on the woman seducing and at one point, which I will get to, it all goes a bit Carry On...Bond.  This was the second time we had Bond actually go undercover with another identity  this time as taking the place of Sir Hiliary Bray a genealogist from Scotland who Blofeld has been in talks with about becoming a Count.  In classic Bond style he walks into the dragon's den but rather than just reveal himself straight away he carries on as Bray whilst systematically sleeping with the woman in some futuristic clinic in Switzerland.  This is where it gets a bit Carry On, in one room with one girl, comes back to another in his bed, this should have been left to Sid James and co.  We meet Blofeld again but he is played by Telly Savalas who had no scar or cat, or even funky evil genius suit? So could have been anyone.

The plot is a good one, even though it didn’t play out too well, it does play like a Bond film and it is more like the book the story comes from, but we could have done with the character of Bond being a similar Bond as Sean had played, not a copy but a more manly endeavour but Lazenby came across as a wet fish out of water. This was a very different film and you can see why in 1971 we welcomed back Sean Connery as Bond, with twists and turns and nods to the book, Bond can finally get Blofeld about three times if I counted correctly, in Diamonds are Forever.

To Be Continued...........