Thunderball is a 1965 spy film and the fourth official installment of the James Bond film series. Terence Young returns to the series as director, marking his third and final directorial effort. Sean Connery returns for the fourth time as Bond, as do Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell in their respective roles. Desmond Llewelyn appears as Q for the third time, and Martine Beswick appears for the second time in a Bond film. Adolfo Celi and Luciana Paluzzi appear as the villains while Claudine Auger plays the main Bond girl.
MI6 agent James Bond 007 and his liaison Madesmoiselle La Porte (Maryse Guy Mitsouko) are in France to attend the funeral of SPECTRE Number Six Colonel Jacques Bouvar. After Mlle. La Port notes that Bond and the late Bouvar shared the same initials, she mentions that he died in his sleep. Bond laments that the real shame of the colonel's death is that he did not kill Bouvar himself, as Bouvar was responsible for the death of two of Bond's colleagues. Bond and Mlle. La Porte then watch as Bouvar's widow (Rose Alba) exits in her limo, but Bond becomes suspicious when he sees her open the car door for herself.
Madame Bouvar drives back to her French château only to find Bond waiting for her. He suddenly punches her in the face, revealing that Madame Bouvar is in fact Colonel Bouvar in disguise, having faked his own death to escape MI6. Bond and Bouvar engage in a violent fist fight, wrecking most of the room, but Bond eventually gaining the upper hand and snapping Bouvar's neck with a fire poker. Just as Bond tosses some roses onto the corpse, Bouvar's butler (Guy Laure) and bodyguard Brinon (François Avazeri) burst into the room and chase Bond out onto the roof. However, Bond makes a daring escape through use of a jetpack, meeting up again with Mlle. La Porte who is waiting for Bond with his Aston Martin DB5. More of Bouver's goons arrive and try to shoot them, but Bond activates the car's bullet shields and water cannons, allowing them to drive away.In Paris, SPECTRE Number Two Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) arrives at the Centres International D'Assistance Aux Personnes Déplacées, where Mr. and Mrs. Karlski (Philo Hauser and Amelia Bayntun) are getting their visas to travel to Brazil. Largo discreetly enters a secret door to the SPECTRE board meeting room, where Number One (Anthony Dawson/Eric Pohlmann) is being updated on SPECTRE's latest activities. Number Seven (Cecil Cheng) has been blackmailing Japanese double agent Matsou Fujiwa, garnering the sum of fourteen-million yen; Number Ten (André Maranne) has overseen the assassination of French anti-matter specialist Perringe, who had defected to the Russians, thus gaining SPECTRE three-million francs from the Quai d'Orsay; Number Five (Philip Stone) reports that the organization has earned two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand pounds for their consultation in the Great British Train Robbery of 1963; Number Eleven (Murray Kash) announces that SPECTRE's distribution of Red China narcotics in the United States have netted them two-million-three-hundred pounds, collected by Number Eleven and Number Nine (Clive Cazes). Number One is disappointed by this figure, as he had expected the operation to gain them higher numbers. Number Eleven tries to explain this discrepancy by bringing up the competition from Latin America, meaning that prices are down, but Number One declares that it is clear to him that one of them is guilty of embezzling from the organization. As Number Eleven expects the worst, Number One pushes a button on his control panel and electrocutes Number Nine to death. Number Nine's body is removed from the room while Number Eleven and Number Thirteen (Gábor Baraker) mop nervous sweat from their faces. Largo then takes the floor to announce his NATO blackmail project, mentioning that he has placed a SPECTRE agent in England to begin making preparations...
At Shrublands Health Clinic outside London, Bond is being given a massage by the very attractive Nurse Patricia Fearing (Molly Peters), where he meets Count Lippe (Guy Doleman). During their encounter, Bond notices a criminal tattoo - a red square with a spike through it - on Lippe's arm. Bond subsequently phones Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) back in London, who helps him identify the tattoo as a symbol of the Chinese Tong. Becoming suspicious, Bond goes to snoop around Lippe's room, but as he is leaving, he is seen by Lippe's charge; the heavily bandaged Angelo Palazzi (Paul Stassino). Bond then attends an appointment with Nurse Fearing, where he tries to plant a cheeky kiss on her, but she resists and leaves him strapped into a spinal traction machine. Lippe sneaks into the room and turns the machine up, leaving Bond to die, but Fearing arrives back just in time to rescue him. Bond promises not to tell Fearing's boss Doctor Wain as long as she joins him in the steam room. Afterwards, Bond finds Lippe relaxing in a steam bath and traps him in it to get him back.
At a nearby motel, Royal Air Force Major François Derval (Paul Stassino) is lying in bed with the beautiful Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), but he is called away and has to leave. When he opens the door to make his exit, Derval is shocked to find himself face to face with his own doppelgänger, who is actually Angelo Palazzi. Palazzi gases Derval, killing him, just as Lippe arrives and Palazzi complains about how he has spent the last two years studying Derval and undergoing plastic surgery in order to become his duplicate. As such, he wants more money; a quarter of a million dollars instead of the one-hundred-thousand dollars that was originally agreed upon. Lippe draws his gun on Palazzi to threaten, but as there is no one else who can take his place and considering that time is of the essence, Fiona concedes to raise Palazzi's fee with the one-hundred-thousand acting only as a down payment.
Palazzi drives over to a nearby RAF airbase, where he takes Major Derval's place aboard an Avro Vulcan being used as part of Flight 759, a training exercise which involves carrying two live atomic nuclear warheads. Back at Shrublands, while Bond is rubbing Nurse Fearing's bare back with a mink glove when he notices a fake ambulance pulling up outside. He decides to go and investigate and notices Lippe's men transporting a body. Bond follows them into Palazzi's room and discovers it to be Derval's corpse. When he reaches for the phone, Bond is accosted by one of Lippe's goons from behind the window. Bond manages to smash him through the glass and wrap the phone cord around his neck, subsequently setting off the fire alarm and waking up all of the patients and staff.
Aboard the Avro Vulcan, the pilot (Neil Hallett) offers to let Palazzi take the controls. When he does so, however, he plugs a vial full of poisonous gas, supplied to him by Fiona, into the plane's breathing system, thus suffocating the rest of the crew. He then ditches the Vulcan into the sea, while Largo and his men watch from Largo's nearby yacht, the Disco Volante. As the plane sinks to the ocean floor, Largo and his frogmen dive into the water and swim down to the Vulcan. Palazzi, who has failed to eject himself, finds that his seatbelt has jammed and he is trapped in his seat. He signals to Largo to help him; Largo, however, knows that Palazzi wanted more money and ruthlessly cuts his air tube, leaving him to drown in agony. The rest of Largo's men then steal the two atomic bombs from the Vulcan and bring them aboard the Disco Volante, where they are excitedly inspected by Polish physicist Ladislav Kutze (George Pravda).
The following morning, Bond is recalled from Shrublands back to London. As he is saying goodbye to Nurse Fearing, he sees Derval's body being removed and Fearing notes that he is Angelo Palazzi, who apparently died of a heart attack. Bond then drives off, but is followed by Lippe in his own car. Lippe draws a gun and tries to shoot Bond, but just as Bond prepares to use one of his gadgets to best Lippe once again, Fiona roars onto the scene on a motorcycle which torpedoes the back of Lippe's car, causing it to swerve off of the road and explodes in a ditch. Fiona, who executed Lippe on Number One's orders for having been to hire Palazzi and failing to foresee that he would ask for more money, subsequently ditches the motorcycle in a lake.Bond arrives back at Universal Exports in London, where Moneypenny tells him that every 00 agent in Europe has been called in to deal with the crisis. Bond walks late into the meeting between M and the other 00s, where the Home Secretary (Roland Culver) plays a recording from Number One stating that SPECTRE has obtained two nuclear warheads and intends to use them to destroy a major city in either the United Kingdom or the United States, unless the government pays SPECTRE the sum of one-million pounds sterling within seven days. Sir John (Edward Underdown), the Air Marshal, reveals a map hidden behind a grand painting and states that the RAF have no idea where the plane went down or where the bombs may be held. The Home Secretary and his aide Kenniston (Reginald Beckwith) then take their leave, while M declares the name of their operation to locate and recover the bombs to be "Thunderball."
In Bond's subsequent one-on-one meeting with M, M assigns Bond to Station C in Canada, where Group Captain Pritchard (Leonard Sachs) will be his Air Force liaison. Bond, however, has recognized someone among the identification photos of the Vulcan crew members; Major François Derval. Bond argues that it was impossible for Derval to have been aboard the plane because Bond himself saw his lifeless corpse at Shrublands the previous night. The only lead they now have is a photo of Derval with his sister Dominique (Claudine Auger) in the Bahamas. M agrees to send Bond to Nassau to further investigate the Dervals.
In Nassau, Bond and his local contact Paula Caplan (Martine Beswick) find Dominique, or "Domino" to her friends, and he saves her when she gets her foot stuck on a coral reef while snorkeling. When Bond and Paula's oat subsequently won't start, Domino offers to give Bond a lift to shore on her boat, leaving Paula behind to get the service boat. As they make their way back to the beach, they fail to notice two shady individuals watching them. Domino does eventually spot one of them and recognizes them as Quist (Bill Cummings) who works for her guardian, as her guardian likes to know where she is at all times.
Later that evening, Bond arrives at a party being held at a local casino (passing producer Kevin McClory smoking a cigar in the lobby), where he again runs into Domino, now accompanied by her guardian; Largo. Bond joins Largo at the card table for a game of Baccarat chemin de fer. During the game, Bond hints that he knows who Largo really is, but in a way that no one else at the table could understand, dropping lines such as "I thought I saw a spectre at your shoulder; the spectre of defeat." Bond, of course, beats Largo and offers to take Domino and buy her drink while Largo attempts to recover his lost money. Bond and Domino share a dance, where Bond learns that Largo is Domino's "uncle," but Bond tells her that he knows that she is really his mistress. They break apart when Largo reappears and invites Bond to lunch at his private estate at Palmyra on Sunday at noon.
The next morning, Bond returns to his hotel room where he checks a hidden tape recorder and hears the sound of someone sneaking into the room and hiding in the bathroom. He grabs his Walther PPK and applies his silencer, when suddenly there is a knock at the door. Bond opens it to be met by the same man from the beach, who says "Well, hello, dou-" when suddenly Bond punches him in the gut and pulls him into the room. Bond then turns on the hot water in the shower, revealing Quist hiding behind the shower curtain. The other man is revealed to Bond's friend from the CIA, Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter), who Bond only punched because he nearly said Bond's codename - 007 - out loud. Bond and Felix send Quist running back to Largo at Palmyra with his tail between his legs. Largo, disappointed with Quist, has his other henchmen throw him into a shark-infested pool, where h is devoured.Bond and Felix meet up with Paula and her contact Pinder (Earl Cameron), who takes them to his private shack. Bond is none-too-pleased to be greeted by Q (Desmond Llewelyn), who equips Bond with the latest Q-Branch issue gadgets. These include; an underwater infrared camera, a distress beacon, an underwater mouth-rebreather, a flare gun and a Geiger counter.
As night falls, Bond goes diving and swims out to the Disco Volante, but is seen on the underwater cameras by Largo and his crew, who drop grenades into the water. Bond manages to swim away just in time. He makes it back to shore and stumbles onto a nearby road, where he flags down a lift. The driver who picks him up turns out to be Fiona, and during their ride he notices a SPECTRE ring on her finger. However, she drops him off at hotel without incident.
The following day, while Bond and Felix fly over the surrounding ocean in a helicopter in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the Vulcan, Fiona meets with Largo at Palmyra and chides him for hastily trying to kill Bond the previous night. Fiona declares that she will kill Bond herself when the time is right. Shortly after she leaves, Bond arrives and Largo introduces him to his two henchmen; Janni (Michael Brennan) and Vargas (Philip Locke), who, according to Largo, "does not drink, does not smoke, and does not make love." After Bond again bests Largo, this time at skeet-shooting, and observing Largo's sharks, Largo asks Bond to accompany Domino to the local Junkanoo that evening, to which Bond agrees.Meanwhile, Paula is waiting at Bond's hotel room for a date with him, when Fiona arrives, claiming to also have a date with Bond. Paula then goes to answer a knock at her own door, in a room which adjoins Bond's. When she opens the door, however, Vargas and Janni are waiting for her and they burst into the room and tie her up.
At the Junkanoo, Bond is called away from Domino by Felix, who tells him that Paula has apparently checked out of the hotel. Bond visits Pinder and has him cut out the power of Palmyra so that he can sneak into Largo's estate. Bond finds Vargas and Kutze inspecting Paula's body, as she has taken cyanide and killed herself so that she won't have to give up any information under interrogation by Largo. As the area is flooded with SPECTRE goons, Bond initiates a shootout, killing two of Largo's men. Largo orders his men to search everywhere while Bond attempts to climb over the roof. However, he drops his gun, prompting an accidental discharge, but manages to get to the other side. One of Largo's goons attacks him and they fall into the swimming pool, which Largo subsequently seals. He then opens the hatch between the swimming pool and the shark pool, allowing the sharks into the area where Bond is. Bond manages to fatally stab the SPECTRE agent in the water and leaves to be presumably eaten, while Bond uses the mouth rebreather to give him enough air to swim through the hatch into the adjoining pool, allowing him to escape.Pinder drops Bond back at the hotel, but when he enters his room he hears something odd. He walks into the bathroom to find Fiona taking a bath. She asks him to give her something to put on, but all he hands her are her shoes. She climbs out of the bath and asks Bond to get his wet clothes off, and they subsequently make love. Afterwards, Bond and Fiona are preparing to leave, but when Bond opens the door he comes face-to-face with Vargas, Janni and Dimitri. Bond slams the door and spins around only to see that Fiona has a gun trained on him, and she forces him to open the door and let the heavies in. They subsequently force Bond into a car and drive towards the Junkanoo, but they are forced to stop due to the ongoing parade. When a drunken local, who has been celebrating a bit too much, approaches the car with a bottle of alcohol, Bond sees his chance. He kicks the bottle out of the man's hand, spilling it's contents all over the car, then grabs Fiona's lighter out of her hand as she attempts to light a cigarette, igniting a small fireball and allowing him to jump out of the car and make a run for it.
As Bond is fleeing into the crowd, Janni fires his gun and hits Bond in the leg. Nonetheless Bond manages to get away from his pursuers, eventually making it to the Kiss Kiss Club. In the bathroom, Bond removes the bullet from his leg wound. When he comes out, he spots Vargas, Janni, Dimitri and Ricardo (Ian Bulloch) looking for him. Hoping to blend in, he whisks the woman next to him at the bar (Diane Hartford) onto the dance floor. However, Fiona suddenly appears behind him and asks to cut in, with Bond's partner thinking that Fiona is in fact Bond's wife. As they share a dance, Fiona tells Bond that it is best he comes with them quietly. Just as the drummer King Errisson enters his conga solo, Vargas and Janni sneak up behind the band and one of them pokes a gun out from behind a curtain, but just as he fires, Bond spins Fiona into the way of the bullet. It pierces her spine and kills her. While her henchmen run off, Bond drops Fiona's body into a nearby chair, asking the couple at the table "Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead!"
The following morning, Bond and Felix once again fly over the way to try and find the missing Vulcan. Bond spots an area infested with sharks and makes Felix fly lower, where he can see that something on the ocean bed has been camouflaged. Bond then dives from the chopper into the water and swims down to what turns out to be the sunken bomber. Bond finds Palazzi's drowned corpse, still strapped into his seat, as well as Derval's dog tags.Bond later finds Domino snorkeling again and they make love underwater. As they come onto the shore, Domino steps on a sea urchin, but Bond is on hand to suck the poison out of her foot. They lie down on the beach, where Bond gives her her brother's dog tag and his watch, which retrieved from Palazzi's body. Domino, realizing that her brother is dead, is heartbroken. Bond tells her that he believes Largo was behind Derval's death and asks for Domino's help in locating the bombs. He gives his Geiger counter and asks her to search the Disco Volante. Domino agrees, on the condition that Bond will kill Largo for her. Just then, Domino spots Vargas sneaking up behind them with a silenced pistol. She tells Bond just in time for him to whip around and use a speargun to fatally harpoon Vargas to a tree, quipping "I think he got the point."
Bond knocks out one of Largo's henchmen and replaces him on a dive to recover the bombs from the hollowed-out cove where they are hidden. However, Bond is discovered by Largo, who sends one of the SPECTRE frogmen after Bond as he tries to swim away. The goon chases Bond into the cove, where the exit hatch begins to close while Bond wrestles with his enemy, eventually killing him by ripping his oxygen tube out of his mask. Bond is left trapped, however, inside the cove while Largo and the rest of his men transport the bombs back to the Disco Volante. When he returns to the yacht, Largo catches Domino trying to use the Geiger counter to locate the bombs and corners her in her room.Largo ties Domino up on her bed and threatens to torture her by using a lit cigar and a handful of ice cubes to apply extreme heat and cold, but is interrupted by Kutze, who informs Largo that they are about to activate the bombs. Meanwhile, Felix flies over the cove in search of Bond, who hears the helicopter's rotary blades and fires his flare gun to signal him. Bond orders Felix to contact the U.S. Coast Guard and warn them that the target is Miami Beach. Bond and the U.S. Coast Guard parachute down to the waters surrounding the Disco Volante as it speeds towards Miami. Largo deploys all of the on-board SPECTRE agents into the water for the final battle. Bond swims through the underwater carnage, which results in many fatalities on both sides, eventually managing to board the Disco Volante. Largo attempts to fulfill his plot by jettisoning the back of the ship and escaping on the front; a hydrofoil. The rear of the boat is then captured by the Coast Guard and the crew are arrested. Meanwhile, Kutze unties Domino, revealing that he has defected from SPECTRE and thrown the detonator for the bombs into the sea. Bond makes his way to the bridge of the Disco Volante, where he gets into a violent struggle with Largo and the last remainder of his crew. Bond manages to overpower and defeat all of Largo's men, but Largo himself manages to corner Bond at gunpoint. Before Largo can pull the trigger and finish the job, he himself is shot in the back with a harpoon by Domino. They share one last look into each other's eyes before Largo falls dead over the boat's steering wheel. However, the ship is now out of control and headed straight for the rocks, with Largo's body becoming immovable and making the ship uncontrollable. At the last second, Bond, Domino and Kutze dive over board as the Disco Volante strikes rocks and explodes into a spectacular fireball.
Bond and Domino swim to a life raft deployed by the Coast Guard, where they are rescued by Felix and a skyhook-equipped U.S. Navy plane.
The theme song for Thunderball was performed by Welsh singer Tom Jones. Jones' song was a last minute replacement after the producers turned down the Dionne Warwick song Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, itself originally sang by Dame Shirley Bassey.