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From the Archive
Issue #23 (1990)



NFT Programme May 1990

NFT Thunderball event page

Thunderball screening Programme Notes

Thunderball screening Programme Notes

NFT Programme May 1990


Programme Notes


Graham Rye’s 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 Theatre.

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 cooperation. 

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 screening. 

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 Sixties. 

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 hydrofoil…. 

….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 tonight! 

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 Thunderball

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 Double-O Seven. 

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)

Thunderball logo
NFT Thunderball screening ticket
Graham Rye gives the opening speech at the NFT
Graham Rye on stage at the National Film Theatre.
Mollie Peters signs autographs for the fans outside the NFT
Mollie Peters signs autographs for the fans.
Production designer Syd Cain
The irrepressible Syd Cain.
Special effects supervisor John Stears with Graham Rye
John Stears enjoyed the get-together.
Graham Rye introduces Thunderball Main Title designer Maurice Binder
Maurice Binder on stage at the NFT.
Maurice Binder chats about his involvement in Thunderball

Our warmest thanks go to Sheila Whitaker and Helen Deeble at The National Film Theatre for their much appreciated and total cooperation with our event; Peter French, Malcolm Rowing and Stephen Rance in the Technical Department of United International Pictures film distributors; Amanda Schofield at EON Productions; and Christian McLintock and his staff at Oscar’s for their special effort with our ‘Thunderball 25th Anniversary Dinner’.

Terence Young addresses the audience at the National Film Theatre prior to the 25th Anniversary screening of Thunderball.
Terence Young addresses the audience at the National Film Theatre prior to the 25th Anniversary screening of Thunderball.

After the screening Graham and myself, together with a group of Club associates, and a number of our Celebrity Guests left by coach for the Anniversary Dinner, which had been arranged by Graham at Oscar’s Brasserie in Leicester Square. Once again a great deal of planning had also gone into this part of the evening.

The walls of Oscar’s are adorned with the photographs of many famous film stars, but until recently James Bond had not been represented there in any of his incarnations. But now a permanent feature in their basement brasserie is the specially printed and framed portrait of Sean Connery in full naval uniform from You Only Live Twice, presented to Oscar’s by Graham on behalf of The JBIFC. So although Sean Connery was unable to attend our event himself, he overlooked our tables in spirit at least.

Anniversary Dinner Menu signed by Thunderball guests

ABOVE: The menu for the Thunderball Anniversary Dinner was signed by the attending guest celebrities. (right) Maurice Binder's acceptance letter.

Terence Young explains why Thunderball was the most successful Bond film of all!

ABOVE: Terence Young explains why Thunderball was the most successful Bond film of all! (bottom right) Reunited with Mollie Peters at the National Film Theatre for the first time in 25 years.

Our party of 30 guests filled a large section of the dinning area where they were greeted with specially produced personalised Thunderball Menus and ‘Double-O’ place setting cards, all of which Graham had prepared the evening before. During the meal we were entertained by live music in the shape of a talented black female vocalist accompanied by her pianist. To our ‘surprise’ and delight she began with her rendition of Thunderball before moving on to other Bond title songs. We were most pleased that Terence Young and his guests joined us; including his two daughters and Lady Orr-Lewis (a remarkable and very entertaining lady who was of great assistance to the director when he was filming in The Bahamas, where she lived at the time). Claudine Auger (Domino in Thunderball) had arrived at the brasserie earlier with her husband Peter, but unfortunately had to leave as she was feeling unwell. Mollie Peters talked over old times at the dinner table, and after what had been a nerve-wracking day for Graham, it was a relaxing way to end the day – and I’m pleased to report that everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.

Thunderball 25th Anniversary screening at the National Film Theatre

ABOVE: (1) Mollie Peters chats to film editor Chris Nixon,  watched her by son Aaron and Andrew Pilkington (2) Maurice Binder, John Stears and Syd Cain reminisce with ex-colleague Dennis Hall (3) Mitchell Binder chats with Bridget Young (4) Lancelot Narayan and Mark Thompson man the sales area.

As for future screenings; well, it is something we would like to do, but only if there is a suitable print, and it is easily available. It would appear to be a ludicrous situation that a screenable print does not exist of the most successful film in the most successful series of films in cinema history. In 1985 Cubby Broccoli presented a set of brand new prints of the Bond films to the Museum of Modern Art in New York to coincide with an exhibition of Bond props. Not only had such an exhibition not been seen in the UK until the 1990 JBIFC Convention at Pinewood Studios, but it is also puzzling that such a gift has not been forthcoming to date to the British Film Institute, especially when the series can be looked upon as one of the true successes of British Cinema. Might it not be an appropriate and long overdue gesture that a similar gift is made to the BFI for posterity? Only time will tell, but I hope the generosity of the filmmakers prevails, if so, possibly evenings such as our Thunderball screening will become a more frequent event in the JBIFC calendar.

Northfields ODEON 1965/National Film Theatre 1990

ABOVE: (top) NORTHFIELDS ODEON 1966: Fred Bryant, Alastair McLeod, and Graham Rye pose with competition winner Robin Rowe and Bond Girl Mollie Peters. (centre) NORTHFIELDS ODEON 1966: Mollie poses with one of the BSA motorbike’s rockets, while Northwood and District Sub-Aqua Club member Gus Sutton looks on. (bottom) NATIONAL FILM THEATRE 1990: (L-R) Graham Rye poses with John Stears, Terence Young, Mollie Peters, Syd Cain, Maurice Binder, Andrew Pilkington and George Leech at the Thunderball 25th Anniversary screening which reunited many members of the cast and crew.


Thunderball FACT FILE