Thunderball ★★★★

My first Bond film, and the first movie that I can recall watching with my father. We were living in Tehran at the time, and I begged him to take me to see this at the local U.S. Army base. Judging by the age-inappropriateness of the subject matter for a boy of 6, I'm kind of surprised he agreed, but I suspect that my more liberal mother convinced him behind the scenes to take me, having apparently learnt nothing from her experience of allowing me to see Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte a year earlier, but then Mom always was a soft touch.

In any case, this movie made a huge impression on me. I don't remember a lot of things from 1965, but I vividly recall Bond taking off in his jetpack after slugging it out with Colonel (She's A Man, Baby!) Bouvar, and later getting a "happy ending" at the health resort after almost being killed on the spinal-traction machine. I wish I could remember how Dad explained that particular scene to me...I'm sure it was a masterpiece of deflection.

As the years passed, I discovered other things to love about this movie. In particular, the sublimely ridiculous and ridiculously sublime Tom Jones theme song. I saw him perform it live at the Montalvo Arts Center about 10 years ago, and it was, without question, one of the greatest musical events I have ever witnessed. Had I been wearing panties at the time, I would've gladly tossed them onstage at Tom's feet. He is a god.

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