Home > Films > T > Thunderball

Tuesday October 16th 2018

Thunderball | 1965

Thunderball location, Chateau d'Anet
Thunderball location: Bond escapes with the jetpack: Chateau d'Anet | Photograph: flickr/Jean Pierre Belot

The fourth Bond, eagerly awaited after Goldfinger, had the biggest budget of the series so far and was the first shot in full Panavision widescreen.

It turned out to be phenomenally successful, despite a protracted underwater battle that just drags on forever (well, that’s my opinion).

Thunderball location, Chateau d'Anet Chapel
Thunderball location: the suspect funeral: Chapel, Chateau d'Anet | Photograph: flickr/Nukleo

The opening teaser, with Bond (Sean Connery) beating the life out of the strangely butch widow at the funeral, and the jetpack escape, is at the Chateau d’Anet, a partly-destroyed palace built for Diane de Poitiers at Anet, about 50 miles west of Paris.

Thunderball filming location: Avenue d’Eylau, 16th arrondissement, Paris
Thunderball location: Largo arrives at the SPECTRE HQ: Avenue d’Eylau, 16th arrondissement, Paris

Villain Largo (Adolfo Celi) arrives at the ‘Centre International d’Assistance Aux Personnes Déplacées’, which is a front for the SPECTRE HQ, at 35 Avenue d’Eylau, in the 16th arrondissement, northwest of the Palais de Chaillot, Paris.

‘Shrublands’, the health farm where Bond roasts Count Lippe (Guy Doleman) in the Sitz bath, was Chalfont Park House, Chalfont St Peter, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, near to the Pinewood studios.

This 18th century house, once owned by the great-nephew of the Duke of Marlborough, was redesigned by John Nash in the fashionable Gothic style. Transformed into a military hospital during World War I, the estate became a hotel and country club in 1921 and was subsequently taken over as offices (it now houses an IT company).

The incineration of Count Lippe, blown up in his car, uses the famous Silverstone Racetrack, between Towcester and Brackley in Northamptonshire.

Major Derval stays at the Royal Saracens Head, 6-8 London End at Windsor End, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. The 18th century inn still operates as a pub and restaurant.

Thunderball location, Clifton Pier
Thunderball location: Bond in the Bahamas: Clifton Pier, Nassau | Photograph: flickr/Noel back in Zurich

Most of the other locations are – surprise! – at Nassau, in the Bahamas. The swish nightspot, where Bond gambles with Largo and dances with Domino, is the Cafe Martinique – now revamped as Atlantis – on Paradise Island, a two-mile strip of sand and rock at the outer edge of Nassau harbour.

The dressed-up-to-the-eyeballs extras are locals, tempted out in their poshest frocks, with the promise of free caviar and champers – very much director Terence Young’s style. At the time, the island could be reached only by boat (there’s now a bridge) and was called by its pre-tourism name of Hog Island.

Largo’s ‘Palmyra’ estate, with its shark-infested swimming pool, was the summer home of the Nicholas Sullivans of Philadelphia (no, I don’t know who they are, either), Rock Point, West Bay Street, east of Compass Point on New Providence Island. The Junkanoo, Nassau’s Boxing Day parade, used Parade Street in downtown Nassau. Most of the major Bahamian islands celebrate Junkanoo, though downtown Nassau hosts the largest and most popular parades. There are two major Junkanoo parades a year, on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

The stolen Vulcan bomber crash-lands in the sea off Rose Island, on the northeastern coast of New Providence Island. It is hidden alongside Clifton Wall, part of Nassau Harbour, where the framework of the purpose-built prop (despite being blown up after filming) can still be seen, almost alongside the sunken freighter from the Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again. The speargun sequence uses the Golden Grotto, now known as Thunderball Reef.

Clifton Pier in Nassau Harbour is the site of Bond and Domino’s underwater tryst, though the beach where they come ashore is the aptly-named Love Beach (it’s actually named for the Love family), west of Gambier Village on the northwest shore of New Providence. The climactic, and tiresomely protracted, underwater battle is also alongside Clifton Pier.

The underwater scenes were staged by Ricou Browning, the veteran diver inside the rubber suit as the original Creature From the Black Lagoon, and a few close-up shots were recreated at the all-purpose underwater location of Silver Springs State Park in Florida, where much of the Creature movie was made – along with a fight scene for Moonraker.

Silver Springs State Park is a tourist attraction just east of Ocala, Route 40, central Florida. Also in Florida are the skydiving frogmen – that’s clearly the city of Miami in the background.