introduction to Thunderball on stage at The National Film
Theatre, London, May 5th 1990.
Good evening. I’d like to welcome you all to the National Film
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the 300 Club members
attending this evening’s screening for their positive response to
this event, and everyone at The National Film Theatre for their kind
My name’s Graham Rye – and I’m the President of The James Bond Fan
Club – who’ve organised tonight’s screening of Thunderball in
conjunction with The National Film Theatre.
If there’s anyone else in the audience interested in learning about
the Club you’ll find information in the foyer – where we also have
copies if our quarterly publication 007 MAGAZINE on sale, together
with copies of The James Bond Girls book, by yours truly, and
the film poster of Thunderball.
Right – that’s the end of the adverts!
Now – I’d hoped to obtain the most recent, and what was the best
print available of Thunderball. This print was struck from
the original negative in 1979 and subsequently was screened at the
Empire Leicester Square in direct competition to the independently
produced Bond film, Never Say Never Again in 1983. However,
sometime in 1984 that print was lost when it was thrown out with the
contents of the Rank Film Depot in Birmingham during its closure.
This left me with the task of locating a print suitable for this
EON Productions made extensive enquiries in the States and
discovered there were only eight prints left, but all were
unscreenable due to their poor quality….
….so eventually, after spending three days in a cutting room with
the eight available British prints – that’s 56 reels of film – and
with the help of United International Pictures Technical Department,
and Film Editor Chris Nixon, we were able to piece together the
print we’re going to see tonight.
Chris and I felt that it was more important to retain the dialogue
in some sections over picture quality, particularly at the end of
each reel, where most of the wear on the film is noticeable.
It would appear that James Bond doesn’t warrant the ‘Lawrence of
Arabia treatment’ – however, I do feel that a donation of new
prints – of the most successful series of films in the history of
the cinema – to the British Film Institute is long overdue!
I hope the quality of this print won’t spoil your enjoyment of the
film too much – but believe me – I’ve done everything humanly
possible to make this the best print available!
We chose Thunderball for this special screening for a number
of reasons: 1990 marks the 25th anniversary of its release – and in
spite of its age I feel it stands up well against the more recent
hi-tech Bond movies – also the film is constantly butchered whenever
it’s screened by the ‘scissor-happy’ ITV network – and as the film
is the first in the series to be shot in the widescreen ‘scope
format of Panavision, much of its visual splendour is lost on the
small screen. And Thunderball hasn’t been seen here at The
NFT since 1980 – and on the general circuits since the late
The key words to describe Thunderball, like James Bond
himself – are style and sophistication, and this is why the film is
placed near the top of many Bond fans list of favourites.
I was hoping Sean Connery would make an appearance at our screening
tonight, but unfortunately his stay in England just fell short of
our event by a couple of weeks. However, he did telephone to thank
me for the invitation and to wish success for tonight’s event.
I’m pleased to say that tonight we DO have with us some of the
people who helped make Thunderball such a huge success….
….our first guest is a stunt artist who you’ve seen in many Bond
movies and countless other British films – among his Bond credits
are On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, on which he was stunt
arranger – he doubled for actor Putter Smith’s fiery death scene as
Mr Kidd in Diamonds Are Forever, and is featured as one of
Largo’s key henchmen in Thunderball, where once again he’s
set on fire – and battles with Bond aboard the villain’s speeding
….and he’s George Leech.
George! (stands up – applause!)
George also holds the rare distinction of being the only screen
character ever to shoot James Bond – and draw blood!
Apart from their spectacular action sequences the Bond movies are
justly famous for the Bond Girls – and while Double-O-Seven is
convalescing at Shrublands Health Farm his bruises are attended to
by the recuperative powers of ‘physical therapist’ Patricia – played
by Molly Peters. And I’m especially pleased she’s joined us here
Mollie! (stands up – applause!)
Although our next guest wasn’t directly involved with the production
of Thunderball, his involvement with the Bond series was from
the very beginning – working as Art Director on Dr. No, where
among his creations was Doctor No’s fire-breathing Dragon Tank. He
also worked as Production Designer on From Russia With Love,
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Live And Let Die…
… Syd Cain! (stands up – applause!)
During the 28-year history of the Bond movies only two films in the
series have been directly honoured by the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences – not only did our next guest win an Oscar for the
Special Effects on Thunderball – but was honoured a second
time by the Academy for his work on Star Wars – among which,
was the construction of nine working R2D2 robots.
His work on the Bond series spans from Dr. No to The Man
With The Golden Gun, and during this time he’s customised
Double-O Seven’s Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger, making it
the most famous car in the world; he’s sunk a Vulcan bomber in The
Bahamas and devised the rocket-firing BSA Motorbike in
Thunderball; and enabled SPECTRE to capture Russian and American
spacecraft in You Only Live Twice – his work has a VERY
SPECIAL effect in every film in which it appears…
…ladies and gentleman, John Stears! (stands up – applause!)
From designing the opening gun barrel sequence of Dr. No to
the credit titles of Licence To Kill – one man has become
synonymous with these skilful blend of images and music…
…would you please welcome – Maurice Binder!
(Maurice walks on stage and reminisces about the titles for
It can be said of our last guest, that next to Ian Fleming he is the
man MOST responsible for setting the style of the Bond movies – and
moulding the young Sean Connery so perfectly into the role of
He directed the first James Bond film – Dr. No
the best James Bond film – From Russia With Love
AND the most successful James Bond film – Thunderball
– he is of course, TERENCE YOUNG!
(Terence walks on stage and addresses the audience)