Trailer for 1965 James Bond classic Thunderball
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Connery didn’t just look the part to play 007, he was a former boxer who had tangled with gangsters in his own past. Yet, when he read the script for the fourth film in the iconic franchise, the actor was not happy. Watching the movie, Bond, of course, is perfectly suave at all times and full of dry quips, but behind the scenes there had been some terrifying near misses. Director Terence Young later admitted some of the shots of Connery’s terror were very real. SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH THE SCENE FROM THUNDERBALL
Much of the 1965 film takes place in the Bahamas as Bond is sent in to retrieve two warheads stolen by Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). The eyepatch-toting villain keeps sharks in his swimming pool (as you do). When Bond first visits, Largo boasts they are Golden Grotto sharks named after a local reef and “the most dangerous and savage” sharks in the world.
In real life this isn’t actually true, no such breed exists, but on screen the secret agent simply replies, “Charming.”
When 007 breaks back into the compund at night, he falls into the pool fighting with a henchman. They are trapped under a retractable cover as a hatch lifts and sharks pour in. After an extremely close escape, Bond drawls: “Sorry old chap, better luck next time.”
All good, tongue in cheek Bond fun. The reality was far more terrifying.
Connery’s initial reaction, when told about the scenes he was expected film, was “Not bloody likely!”
He was only convinced after a plexiglass screen was built in the pool, separating him from the sharks. However, production designer Ken Adam later confessed: “What I didn’t tell Sean was that I could only get so much Plexiglass.”
There was still a small gap and a shark actually managed to wriggle through and a terrified Connery had to frantically leap out of the pool.
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At the end of the scene on screen, Bond pulls himself out of the pool closely pursued by a shark. Initial reports claimed a dead one was supposed to be used, pulled on a wire.
Special effects coordinator John Stears later revealed the shark was unexpectedly still alive and began to thrash. Sharks will attack an injured one and horrifying a feeding frenzy erupted, as Stears screamed, “Get me out of here.”
Sharks plagued the entire film shoot, with all the main underwater scenes at sea having to be shot at very low tide, due to the number of wild sharks in the area.
Back safely on dry land, Connery was much more playful, and Thunderball Bond Girl Martine Beswick, who plays CIA agent Paula Caplan, recounted one hilarious moment.
Beswick said: “One time, we’d finished filming for the day, and there were hundreds of people milling around on the beach, all roped off watching.
“Sean called to the set hairdresser, Here, you’, and then he simply pulled off his toupée and threw it at the hairdresser.
“The hairpiece sailed over like a Frisbee and as the hairdresser caught it, Sean said something like, ‘That’s it, I’m off.’
“Everyone just collapsed. It was the funniest thing.”
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