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Thunderball (1965)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

James Bond, 007, mingles with mourners at the funeral of Jacques Boitier, the murderer of two British agents. Bond rapidly deduces Boitier is actually disguised as a female mourner and, following a savage fight, dispatches Boitier before fleeing from the scene using a jetpack which allows him, literally, to fly to his waiting Aston Martin DB5.

Bond's superiors send him to Shrublands, a secluded health farm in the English countryside, in order to recuperate after recent exertions. Here, his carnal interests are aroused by an attractive young nurse, and his professional interest by another resident - the mysterious Count Lippe, who wears a ring indicating allegiance to SPECTRE - the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terror, Revenge and Extortion.

Suspicious, Bond breaks into the rooms Lippe shares with his wheelchair-bound companion, 'Mr Angelo', but fails to uncover any hard, incriminating evidence. However, he is spotted, and faces harsh but non-lethal punishment when he is strapped to a traction machine - known as 'the rack' - set to maximum.

Meanwhile, SPECTRE has become desperate for more funds and the syndicate's Number Two, Emilio Largo, hatches a plan to commandeer a Vulcan bomber, steal its two atomic bombs and blackmail Western governments with the threat of detonation.

Angelo is really a SPECTRE agent, who has undergone plastic surgery in order to resemble the plane's real pilot, Fran├žois Derval, who is murdered shortly before Largo's operative takes his place.

The scheme is executed while the Vulcan is engaged on a NATO training exercise, and Bond receives immediate orders to join the other 00 operatives who have all been assigned to the case. He makes the connection between Angelo and Derval, and travels to Nassau to pursue the lead, in the form of Domino, the dead pilot's sister. Engineering a meeting, he proceeds to charm and subtly question her in equal measures. Over a game of chemin de fer he encounters her 'guardian', Largo, and the two men strongly insinuate their backgrounds. Shortly afterwards, Bond is reunited with his old CIA colleague, Felix Leiter, and the agents join forces.

That evening 007 swims to Largo's ship, the Disco Volante, and discovers a hatch through which divers can secretly swim into the surrounding waters. Convinced this has been used to surreptitiously collect the Vulcan's bombs, Bond resolves to investigate further, before which he meets the alluring Fiona Volpe, another SPECTRE agent, who makes her allegiances clear.

The following day he visits Largo's home, Palmyra, where he is introduced to Vargas, one of Number Two's lethal henchmen. Meanwhile, Volpe and her colleagues visit Bond's hotel suite and his assistant, Paula, is abducted. She later takes a cyanide pill rather than talk. Leiter informs Bond of her disappearance and he races back to Palmyra to search for her. However, he is spotted, fights his way off the property and returns to his hotel, to discover Volpe waiting. They have sex before she hands him over to her colleagues, but Bond escapes and seeks relative safety on a dance floor with her. When he is shot at, a swift turn ensures the bullet kills Volpe, and 007 disappears into the crowd.

Time is dwindling for the Western governments and, although Bond discovers the Vulcan on his next dive, both bombs are missing. After he and Domino become lovers, Bond explains Largo's involvement with Fran├žois's death. Heartbroken and vengeful, she agrees to help him. Her assistance begins with a warning that Vargas is watching them. As he readies to shoot, 007 harpoons him, and Domino muses that it should have been Largo.

Shortly afterwards, using a Geiger counter secreted in a camera, she discovers the bombs are not yet onboard the Disco Volente. Aware that they must be in the vicinity, Bond calls for reinforcements to seize them. A mammoth underwater battle ensues and although one bomb is recovered, Largo escapes to his ship with the other. Bond follows him and in the ensuing struggle Domino kills her ex-'guardian'. The remaining atomic device is recovered and a passing plane intercepts a line attached to Bond. Once again, 007 'flies' to safety, but this time he holds his lover tight in his arms.