Thunderball Obsessional, A Dedication to the Best Underwater James Bond Film

by Owen James Burke

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All images courtesy of of Thunderball Obsessional

Sure, he made “Never Say Never Again,” (1983), for which we can never forgive him, but without screenwriter and producer Kevin McClory (who could be credited with bringing 007 and the undersea world to the [big] screen) we might also never have seen James Bond le plongeur.

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Most of us have seen the 35mm technicolor classic, but not to the degree of behind-the-scenes detail that the website Thunderball Obsessional has cultivated it. A very secretive and semi-anonymous man himself, Mr. Alan Gilbert — who does not accept requests for interviews — operates a website dedicated entirely to his favorite James Bond film where he’s compiled what is surely the most comprehensive collection of artwork, outtakes and trivia from the 1965 film.

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The set — or part of it — at Coral Harbour on New Providence in The Bahamas

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Production Designer Ken Adams’ sketch of the submarine in “Thunderball” for which he was nominated a BAFTA award for Best British Art Direction

Thunderball” was the first James Bond story to be written for film, and while the novel was written by the original author of the series, Ian Fleming, the idea of adapting 007 to film and setting it in The Bahamas was proposed by screenwriter and producer Kevin McClory. McClory met with Fleming to discuss the proposal in 1959, and Fleming completed the novel in 1961 (the film would be shot and released by 1965). There was only one problem: as McClory saw it, he never received the credit to which he felt entitled (though Fleming did write it).

Below: Concept art for the battle scenes

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With a 50-year dispute over the “Thunderball” novel rights (along with the rest of the James Bond library) finally settled as of last year, the Kevin McClory estate has relinquished their rights to MGM and Danjaq LLC, the producer of the James Bond films (financial considerations have not been disclosed).

Outtakes of underwater scenes from “Thunderball”

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Mr. Bond under attack

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An exceptionally docile-looking tiger shark comes in for a closer look at the production

 

Browse more outtakes and photographs from the set at Mr. Alan Gilbert’s page, Thunderball Obsessional — OB

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