Let there be no mistake: Sean Connery is James Bond. After begrudgingly conceding that Daniel Craig needs to have at least one more outing as the secret agent with the license to kill to claim the throne, my vote for the title of the “best” Bond clearly falls to Connery, who’s cool and confident approach made the spy series feel real while maintaining its fun sense of adventure. Connery’s run was back when the Bond series was closer to realistic instead of its evolution to the crazy, over the top plots and devices that plagued Pierce Brosnon’s run as the famous 007 (those films were still good and fun, but they just took a larger grain of salt to get through). Connery’s fourth outing as the Secret Agent is 1965’s ‘Thunderball.’
After a NATO plane armed with nuclear missiles is highjacked by SPECTRE (who is holding the world at ransom for $100 million in diamonds), Bond joins the mission to find the missing plane and recover the missiles before the world has to pay (or before an undisclosed location is blown up by the missing bombs). The mission takes Bond to
Indeed, ‘Thunderball’ had all the making of a great Bond film. It was at this point in the series that everyone involved knew what the formula was and was able to deliver on that and still offer something new and exciting. If you think about it, it’s a pretty difficult task to impress an audience that knows how the film will play out before it even begins. So the credit for this film’s success is how well it plays within the confines of its world and how it comes up with ways to surprise the audience. Connery’s Bond is a huge asset to ‘Thunderball’ as he had perfected the role by this point. The second ace up the film’s sleeve (and all of the subsequent Bond films’ sleeves) was the gadgets. ‘Thunderball’ wasn’t at the point of underwater or disappearing cars yet, but rather it introduced the more sensible, realistic spy toys that always came in handy at just the right time (a compact underwater breathing device, a non-harmful radioactive pill that can help trace the agent wherever he is). All of these combined helped ‘Thunderball’ spur the series onward. Add a great opening sequence with a kick-ass theme song (Tom Jones singing ‘Thunderball’ [and, adding to its kick-ass-itude, it’s rumored that Mr. Jones actually passed out in the recording studio after singing the final high note of the song]), you can’t go wrong with ‘Thunderball’ as your James Bond fix.