December marks the last major 007 anniversary of this year — the 50th anniversary of Thunderball, the fourth Bond film and the apex of the 1960s spy craze.
This blog has written a lot about Thunderball. It was a milestone. In the fall of 1965, spies had taken over television, trying to get a piece of the spy frezy unleashed by Agent 007. But Thunderball transcended all that.
A half-century after it was released, Thunderball generates mixed reactions. For those who were there, it was a huge event. For those who weren’t, some go so far to wonder what the fuss was all about.
The former looks fondly at a spectacle that could only be viewed on the silver screen, not on TV. The latter sees a slow-moving movie (at least in its underwater sequences).
The former sees a self-assured Sean Connery as Bond, at the height of his powers. The former says, “Meh!” and the original 007 director, Terence Young, phoning it in.
In the U.S. and Canada (ticket information outside that region is hard to come by), no James Bond movie sold more tickets for viewing in a theater. Not just during its initial release, but various re-releases that took place for almost a decade.
In the end, which James Bond movie you like best comes down to personal preference. When looked at on that basis, there are untold opinions.
But Thunderball remains the movie when 007 made his biggest impact on popular entertainment. Thunderball was the follow-up to Goldfinger, the first Bond mega-hit. That was a time that can’t be re-created.
Thunderball, like other spy-entertainment of the mid-1960s, was like catching lightning in a bottle. No matter was happens in the 007 film series, Thunderball remains something to be celebrated.