Tag Archives: Terence Young

Thunderball (1965) Review

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Thunderball

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Low level violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Claudine Auger as Domino
Adolfo Celi as Emilio Largo
Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona Volpe
Rik Van Nutter as Felix Leiter
Director: Terence Young

A SPECTRE agent steals two atomic bombs from a NATO plane. James Bond is assigned a mission to recover the warheads and put a stop to the evil plans of the criminal organisation.

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I have some memory of watching Thunderball for the first time many years ago. I knew it as the Bond movie with a lot of water and sharks, but I couldn’t remember much beyond that. I was pleasantly surprised by the first three films, so I went into my rewatch of Thunderball with an open mind and came out of it feeling a bit let down.

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After Goldfinger, James Bond was a lot more famous and well known. Naturally, everything including the scope and stakes are increased for the newest installment. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t quite work for me on the whole. Although there’s some enjoyment to be had, I just felt like it didn’t have the charm and fun of the first three movies. There is a sense of blandness to the storyline and most of the characters. I didn’t find myself very engaged or excited, and it was an underwhelming experience. The stakes may be grander, but you don’t really feel them. It doesn’t help that the movie slowly moves, so much of it meanders with a sluggish pacing. Also, as the first Bond movie to be over 2 hours, it manages to feel overlong. The first 40 minutes don’t have much to do with the main plot and wastes time with James Bond at a massage parlour, which in itself was a painful sequence to watch. In terms of treatment of women in Bond movies, I thought the worst instances would be in Goldfinger for a few bad moments, but Thunderball is by far the worst case, just for the opening act alone. There’s a scene where Bond sexually harasses a nurse and later blackmails her into having sex with him. This whole segment hangs over the rest of the movie and it’s hard to look past. It doesn’t help that the whole massage parlour sequence doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the plot. With all that said, Thunderball does have some entertaining moments, and occasionally there are some interesting scenes. It definitely leans more into campiness at points (including a jet pack in the opening scene) and is enjoyable for that. Some aspects are hard to take seriously like the tank full of killer sharks and the mysterious SPECTRE meetings since they’ve been parodied to death. However, it makes the movie more fun to watch at least.

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Sean Connery’s James Bond is confident and charming as usual, and thankfully gets more focus in this compared to Goldfinger. I especially loved his interactions with Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. The main Bond girl Domino as played by Claudine Auger works well enough, but was a little forgettable. Alfodo Celi plays Emil Largo, one of the most recognisable Bond villains with an eye patch and a pool full of sharks. Unfortunately, that’s all that’s going for him. He’s very forgettable and dull, and he doesn’t really feel that threatening or dangerous. Luciana Paluzzi as Largo’s henchwoman Fiona Volpe fares much better, definitely one of the highlights from the movie.

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Dr No and From Russia with Love director Terence Young returns to the franchise after Goldfinger was directed by Guy Hamilton. It is impressive on a technical level; you really feel the increased budget compared to the past 3 movies. It is very well shot, and the production design is great. The action is certainly larger, but for the most part they aren’t that thrilling. You can tell that much of the budget went into filming the underwater scenes, and to be fair it is commendable that they pulled them off. However, something I noticed when watching all the Bond movies is that even if it’s good on a technical level, it struggles with underwater sequences. Tomorrow Never Dies had one, For Your Eyes Only had one, and Thunderball is based around a lot of water so unfortunately there’s more than just one. These underwater scenes are too long, boring and slow, even during action scenes. The underwater action scenes may be impressive for the time but could get messy and can be hard to make out what is going on, with some bad camerawork and editing.

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After the solid first three James Bond movies, Thunderball feels like a notable step down. I liked some of the performances and there is fun that can be had with it. However I just couldn’t get invested in the story, not helped by the dragging pacing. It’s not bad, but outside of some key moments, I think it is rather forgettable and on the lower end of the Bond movies.

From Russia with Love (1963) Review

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From Russia with Love

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Pedro Armendáriz as Ali Kerim Bey
Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb
Robert Shaw as Donald “Red” Grant
Bernard Lee as M
Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
Director: Terence Young

James Bond searches for a Lektor cryptographic device that has the potential to wreak havoc in the world and stops SPECTRE, a secret crime organisation, from acquiring it.

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In my rewatches of the James Bond movies, I was looking forward to From Russia with Love, that’s because of the official Bond movies, that’s the only one I never watched. I did hear some people declare it as one of the Best Bond movies, especially of the Connery era. I finally watched it and liked it, at the very least it is definitely a level above the previous movie Dr No.

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Dr No was a very lowkey Bond movie compared to many of the later movies in the series, with heavy emphasis on the spy aspect. From Russia with Love is similar in that regard, but is better in every way. The plot is a Cold War mission, focussing more on espionage and spycraft than world ending schemes. There aren’t many Bond-esque gadgets, but James Bond does have a suitcase with many tricks, which proves to be useful. From Russia with Love isn’t quite like the Bond movies that you would expect yet, but it is definitely steps closer to the formula in the series. Plotwise, it can be a bit convoluted, but it made for a good movie and was well constructed. Also, whereas parts of Dr No’s story can be shaky, FRWL feels a lot more confident, they upped the scope and scale here. I found the plot to be interesting, mysterious and intriguing. It is a slow burn, it’s quite Hitchcockian in parts with some tense sequences, especially with a particular section on a train. The tone is serious and the film is fairly grounded, but also has some good moments of humour. It definitely has outdated aspects in the writing, but it mostly works.

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Sean Connery returns of the role of James Bond and once again is great, he’s even better here than in the last movie. It’s a more confident performance, he’s charismatic, convincingly deadly, and has plenty of witty one liners. His interpretation of the character definitely has limitations given the writing, but for what it is, he’s good. There is a better cast of characters compared to the last movie, it even has the first appearance of Q as played by Desmond Llewelyn. Daniela Bianchi is the Bond girl this time, playing Tatiana Romonova. While her story arc doesn’t have much to it (especially considering that this is an early 60s Bond movie), she’s integral to the plot, endearing and felt like a real person, along with sharing good chemistry with Connery. There’s not much depth to the villains but they are better than in the last movie. In the last movie, the antagonist Dr No mentions he’s a part of SPECTRE and that criminal organisation gets more presence here. The secretive leader Blofeld is barely seen but still has a strong presence in his scenes. The main two villains are memorable in their parts; Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb as a higher up of SPECTRE, and Robert Shaw as the first Bond henchman Red Grant, who hunts him down over the course of the movie. The latter particularly shines when he finally meets with Bond.

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Dr No director Terence Young returns to direct, and his work is definitely a step up from the last movie. You can tell that he has a much higher budget here. The action set pieces are grander and feel more fleshed out. There’s particularly a fight on a train that feels very real and is likely one of the best fights in the series. The editing and cinematography are also improved here. Some technical aspects are flawed like the ADR and some continuity errors, but that’s mostly to do with it being a movie from the 60s, you can expect little things like those.

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From Russia with Love is an improvement over the first movie in every respect, with the writing, characters, performances and the directing. It’s an effective espionage spy thriller with some great sequences. It’s a really good movie and definitely on the better side of the Bond movies.

Dr. No (1962) Review

Dr. No

Dr. No

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder
Joseph Wiseman as Dr. Julius No
Jack Lord as Felix Leiter
Bernard Lee as M
John Kitzmiller as Quarrel
Anthony Dawson as Professor R.J. Dent
Zena Marshall as Miss Taro
Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench
Director: Terence Young

Agent 007 decides to battle against an eccentric scientist, Dr No, who is determined to ruin the US space programme. For this purpose, he journeys to Jamaica to nip in the bud this megalomaniac peril.

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After No Time to Die I decided to rewatch the pre-Craig James Bond movies in the most illogical order, going backwards from Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all the way back to Sean Connery and George Lazenby. Going to the Sean Connery movies was interesting, especially with seeing how the franchise started. The first film, Dr. No, is definitely very dated and I wouldn’t call it among the best Bond movies by any means. However it is pretty good and held up better than I expected.

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Having watched the post Connery Bond movies, it was interesting seeing how the Bond trademarks began on film. The James Bond movies are known for being over the top but Dr. No is not that overly campy. In fact, it is surprising how low key and simple its beginning is, Bond’s first movie is more of a proper espionage spy thriller more intrigue than large explosions. Many of the Bond trademarks aren’t here, no Q, no gadgets (outside of a gun), and no globetrotting (it takes place largely in Jamaica). As such, it was very interesting to watch. It also has a 60s old school charm to it which made it endearing to watch, even if it is outdated in many ways. I will admit that I wasn’t fully invested in the story. The pacing is all over the place, the plot can meander quite often, and the middle part of the movie is generally boring. Also, I found the conclusion to the movie to be rather disappointing.

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Sean Connery makes his debut as James Bond, he was the first actor to play him. He makes a strong impression; he is suave and delivers the witty lines excellently. At the same time, he is very believable as a dark character and cold blooded killer, being particularly realistic in the action scenes with his physicality. Connery also benefits from being front and centre in this movie. Generally, the rest of the cast are pretty good if underutilised. Ironically the weakest link is Dr. No himself, as played by Joseph Wiseman. Problematic casting and yellowface aside, the main villain shows up with 30 minutes left of the runtime. While those types of villains can work, Dr. No doesn’t leave much of an impression outside of having metal hands and apparently being really smart. Even some of the side villains like the assassins pretending to be blind are fairly weak as antagonists go.

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Terence Young directs Dr. No, and his work is pretty good. They definitely had a lower budget here compared to the later Bond movies, but they still pulled off a fair amount. Some of the technical elements still hold up well surprisingly. The green screen is definitely dated but otherwise it has good production designs and makes use of the locations in Jamacia. There are also some impressive set pieces with good action scenes. This movie also introduces the iconic James Bond theme by John Barry. The one problem is that the theme is used a bit too much throughout the movie, almost to the point of parody.

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I wouldn’t call Dr. No by any means one of the best Bond movies. It is definitely dated from a technical and writing perspective, and it can be pretty slow and boring at times, especially in the second act. However, it is definitely one of the most unique entries of James Bond considering its before it became a large and successful franchise. It’s interesting seeing it as a relatively gritty spy thriller with a focus on espionage. Additionally, it was directed well, and Sean Connery is great as James Bond.