February 18, 2009


Thunderball (1965) SPECTRE HQ. Production Designer/Ken Adam (Goldfinger, Dr. Strangelove), Art Director/Peter Murton (Goldfinger, Dr. Strangelove, The Ipcress File). Determined to expand on the traditional board room-style, Adam challenged himself to create the office lair of a calculating and deadly organization worthy of James Bond. Spoofed by Mike Meyers in Austin Powers, the room sports two rows of sleek chairs with microphone consoles and lamps. The "table" area resembles a fashion show runway, making the henchmen seem exposed and vulnerable. A large map covers the far wall. Overlooking the operation, and half-hidden by a frosted panel, sits Blofeld stroking his white cat. A few reports and unanswered questions later, the flick of a switch- and one fried baddie in a cloud of smoke and sizzle! And because evil geniuses tend to maintain decorum in social interactions, the chair quickly sinks into the floor to dispose of the untidy corpse. The meeting resumes. The vastness of the room echoes the far-reaching power of SPECTRE. They are ruthless, efficient, and faceless. We are in awe and know that Bond has his work cut out for him as Operation Thunderball commences. Baddie #2, Largo, enters the room through a sliding shelf and hidden metal door.

In celebration of the chain-of-doors concept, Spy Vibe will give away a Season One box set of GET SMART (1965)! Post a Thunderball or Get Smart memory in the comments section of the Spy Vibe blogsite under this posting, and a winner will be drawn at random on March 21, 2009. Don't need Get Smart? Post your memories anyway and let me know you're not in the drawing.


Check out Spy Vibe's production set series, an event that gathered together many writers to celebrate the best spy sets from cold war-era film & TV. Guest Set Lists: Lee Pfeiffer, Jeremy Duns, Armstrong Sabian, Steve Bissette, Roger Langley, Matthew Bradford, Wesley Britton, David Foster, Matt Kindt. Spy Vibe's Set For Adventure here, Set Countdown #10, #9, #8 ,#7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1.


  1. Man, I don't have Get Smart yet, but I should stay out of your contests....

    It goes without saying that I love this set...all you have to do is look at my site to see that! Still, it didn't crack the top five. Which is forthcoming! Seriously! It's second on my to-do list!

  2. Also: you didn't point out my favorite part of the room -- that ultra-awesome world map. I've been looking for a great world map for my office wall, but settled for a $4 version that I'm going to try to spice up myself....

  3. It's been my favorite Bond film ever since I first saw it at age 8 or 9 nearly 30 years ago. I enjoy everything about Thunderball, especially the Bondmania aspect. TB was 007 at his commercial peak, Connery having the most fun, and is it any wonder he bought a place in the Caribbean after making this film?

    I'm always amazed at the color of TB, especially all of the Bahamian powder blue! And it seems Connery's Bond is always wearing it. But the whole film has a sun-soaked, tropical feel that even seems fresh to me, and I live in South Florida! That's another part of TB that I enjoy so much, that it takes place near my neck of the woods. My friends and I would re-eanct the final underwater battle whenever we were in a pool or at the beach.

    Finoa Volpe is my favorite henchwoman! She is so sexy, and deadly!

    Great clothes: Bond at Shrublands, the Grey suit (powder blue shirt) during the street chase. The women look splendid, Fiona in powder blue(!), Domino's b&w bathing suit and her beautiful attire during the gambling scene. My wife watches this one just to see Fiona and Domino's clothes. Even Q's tropical shirt is eye catching!

    I've always loved the underwater scenes, even the taking of the bomb. I enjoy the deliberate pacing of TB and the fast-paced action at the end. As a matter of fact, the underwater scenes are what got me liking this one when I was a kid.

    The source music is fantastic as Bond is dancing with Fiona, and it really works up the tension as Bond must time his move with the gunshot. Great! As a kid, I thought 007 was being brutal when he did that, but that's quintessential Fleming Bond!

    And of course that ending! The greatest exit in Bond film history!

  4. What an excellent idea for a blog.

    I remember watching millions of reruns of 60's spy shows like Get Smart and The Avengers (and Batman, although not exactly "spy") when I was a kid in the 90s.

    These shows ended up as huge influences on my personal style and I get the odd person now telling me I remind them of Barbara Feldon (what a compliment!)

    Now if only I had the digs to go along with the clothes.

  5. Thanks, Angela! What were your favorite parts of The Avengers?

    IKEA is an affordable resource to help give your digs a spy vibe :) Also, take a look at my friend Matt Maranian's book "Pad" (Chronicle Books) for swingin' DIY home projects. It's amazing what one can do with fabric, glue, and tag sale treasures!

    If you like Barbara Feldon, check out the Man From Uncle episode "The Never Never Affair" from the first season (I think Netflix has it). She's cool! And she does intros and interviews on the Get Smart dvds.

  6. Hello Mr. Whiton and please allow me to extend my compliments on a wonderfull site. I also wish to acknowledge another wonderful site; Cinema Retro, for if not its recommendation and indorsement myself and thousands more would be roaming aimlessly in the cold of cyberspace without ever landing here at Spy Vibe.
    My memories of our hero Mr Bond, James Bond's third big screen mission goes back to when I was almost nine years old and that is in January of 66. I remember catching Bond fever, after seeing Goldfinger with my cousin Rithie, the year before. However, all the pre release hype of Thuderball really made a young Bond fan's blood turn 007. So I was ready for Thunderball's Christmas/New Year week release. Now one has to remember that the year is 1966, first week of January, I turn nine at the end of the month. So on the first Saturday of Thuderball debut I tell my mom I'm going to the movies. She must have asked me with who and to see what and must of told her the new BOnd movie and by myself. Wow, I could just imagaine what I would have told my son at that age but then there was no way he would ever resond to the question of who you going with with by my self. So there I am with my one dollar in hand and set off to the Liberty or Ritz movie threather in Elizabeth New Jersey. The walk was about a half hour or so to either one. Yes,I walked, by my self at nine years old. But those were much different times which also accounted for why the Bond movies and Thunderball were so special and stunning to watch. There was just nothing like them in the world or at least not in Elizabeth, NJ. I remember the first shows were always bagan at one in the afternoon so that's when I must have sat in my seat at what was then a beautiful art deco style movie house complete with a full baconey. Now of course I was not too accoustomed to that blood soaked opening gun barrel butI am sure seeing it then sent a shiver down my young spine as it still does. (Quantum of Solace not with standing) Now for the fun part, I think Thunderball ran with another movie, I can't recall but in those days we were usualy given our fifty cents worth but I don't know. I do remember that I stayed clued to my seat untill Thunderball screened three times. With no cell phones but lots of phone booths that requried ten cents to make a local call I checked in with the folks and told them I was still at the movies. No problem, I tell my three children to always check in but even something that even the early Q could'nt have imagined, the cell phone, they don't. Now my Thunderball obsession does not end there. I would say that it bagan there. Since it's release in 65 I would say I've watched it a few hundred times. Now we have to go back to how and in what format so let me share them with you. First we had the ABC movie of the week broadcast, then we have the RCA release in the Selecta Vision format. I purshased a copy and watched it at my cousin's house. Then came HBO, the cable movie network ran it uncut. I had one of the first RCA VCRs and taped it on VHS. Then we had the official VHS release, they were great, stereo sound, then surround sound and then letterboxed for all us who knew that letterboxed as "more better". Excuse me but I just watched the movie Perfume. Anyway back to my format TB memories. I must have eight or nine different releases of TB on VHS, need that great artwork. Next the laser disc four releases on laser),OMG,no way we could get any better. But we do, out comes the DVD and at least six different releases. Got em all. In between we have the cable Bond week or monthly marathons and I alway watch some if not all of Thunderball. And on the big screen whenever this classic is showed. Now of course the blu ray release which is fantastic and in full 5.1.In closing,TB is my favorite Bond flick and my favorite Flemming novel as well for 007 million reasons. Thanks for allowing me to share my TB story, can't wait to watch the blu ray on the LCD asap. Anthony Latino

  7. Ken Musante Writes:
    I loved Get Smart as a kid. My sister and I would watch it every chance we got when it was on Nick at Night. (Shows you I'm not really part of the original Get Smart generation.)

    I always thought Max's red sports car was the coolest car ever. Glad to see it made a cameo in the recent movie.

    Anyway, I really like the blog, and I think it's cool that someone is blogging about what you call the "spy" style. Keep on blogging!

    Thank You, Ken! I really like that car, too! I believe it's a 1965 Sunbeam Tiger :)

  8. The first James Bond film I ever saw was The Spy Who Loved at the local drive-in. I loved it so much I would go on different nights with different families. This film had such an influence on me that I was eagre to watch more Bond adventures. Which of course I did over the next few years, whenever they were on television or when a new movie came out at the drive-in. Then in the early 80's came this fantastic invention called the video recorder. Firstly I thought I could buy the James Bond films. Well this was not the case - back then, and this was long before 'sell through', Warner Brothers had the rights to the James Bond films on video in Australia. And they didn't sell their films - not even to the video shops. They rented their titles to the video shops, who then rented them to the consumers. So I couldn't buy them. I had to wait until they were shown on television and record the show.

    The first movie I acquired was Thunderball and I watched this tape over and over - within an inch of it's life. But to illustrate the effect that this movie had on me, let me explain a few small things - namely the condition of the film. I grew up in regional Australia - it wasn't the red centre outback or anything like that, but as far as the outside world was concerned in was pretty primitve in some respects. The nearest television stations were in cities about an hours drive away and the signal was never strong. As a petulant young pup, I am sure I would have insisted that my father climb up on the roof of the house and adjust the direction of the TV aerial, just so we would get the best picture possible for that evening. But even then, the picture I recorded was 'snowy'. But I loved it, and would watch it nearly every weekend (until something better came along).

    It's funny, and I am sure I am not alone in this (tlat shares a similar tale), since then how many copies of Thunderball I have had. Once it was available for sale - first there was your standard VHS version. Then came the widescreen VHS version. Next came the first single disc DVD version. Then they put out the 2 disc DVD, which I had to have. And then finally they put it out on Blue-Ray, and thanks to Tanner and a competition on the Double O section, I scored a copy of that. Thunderball ahs been a part of my life for near on thirty years - and I for one feel that I am better for it.

    Now after all that ego-centric rambling, I'd just like to add how much I am enjoying your site. Keep up the good work.


  9. THUNDERBALL is sometimes my favorite Bond film. I just watched it a couple weeks ago, and was struck again by how great the opening titles are. It seems like the point of Bond title sequences is to be up-to-the-minute current, in a way that makes most of them look dated almost before the theme song ends. The THUNDERBALL titles still look great today, though -- and not just campy retro great, like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE's.

    (I guess there's a reason "Weird Al" used THUNDERBALL as his template for the SPY HARD title sequence. Personally, I think the SPY HARD titles -- by far the funniest part of that movie -- still hold up too! Which probably diminishes my credibility on whether THUNDERBALL's do. I shouldn't even have brought it up.)

  10. GET SMART had it all for a kid like me who felt like a klutz all the time: Maxwell Smart had a cool sports car & a foxy female sidekick, the greatest gadgets (A shoe phone! A finger-gun!) and despite everything, Max managed to carry it off and save the day. How could I...how could ANY kid...not watch this show without thinking "Hey, there's hope for even a guy like me"?

    Unfortunately, my love for the show also led to my checking way too many phone booths for false floors that would open beneath me...

  11. i was just a young impressionable kid of 9 yrs old when this hit the theater. being a fan of the man from uncle & get smart, my friends and i were also james bond fans although i had not seen any of the films. all was to change when i was invited to a friend's birthday party which was for all of to go see the film together. unfortunately i got sick in the very begining of the film and had to go home, severly disappointed. luckily though my dad was also a big bond fan having read fleming's books and seen the previos films, so he made it up to me by taking me to see it later on. of course i was toally blown away. the hidden man wiff the cat, that awesome jet pack, those underwater fights and what to speak of the bond girls

  12. Thunderball is "the" James Bond movie for me! My love for spy movies, Euro and American, started with this movie! Thunderball has everything a good spy movie needs starting with the great intro at the French Castle over the criminal mastermind and organisation up to the water sequences and last but not least the terrific set designs! Although the sixties had great other Bond movies like OHMSS, this one will always be special for me!รง

  13. I'd seen a few Bond movies, but other than Dr. No, none of them seemed that great (it was the late 1970s) then I saw Thunderball and thought it was fantastic. The action, the girls, the sets, all were just great. I was about 15 when I saw Thunderball the first time and I always watch it whenever I can. What I remember about Get Smart is the phone in the shoe. Oh, and Agent 99.


  14. I have loved Get Smart for over 40 years.
    When I was a kid in the 60's I looked forward to seeing my favorite crime fighter Maxwell Smart every Saturday night. He was handsome, confident and brave. He was someone I could relate to. My most vivid memory of Get Smart is asking my dad to buy a Sunbeam Tiger just like the one Max had.
    He told me that when I got old enough that I could buy my own. So I did. It just took 40 years to do it...And loving it.

  15. I was a latchkey kid in the 80's so I would watch hours upon hours of tv re-runs after school. Get Smart was one of my favorites because it was all about spies and it had Agent 99 (need I say more.) I can remember two plots/scenes: Max trapped in a bank vault with his partner. He starts doing jumping jacks to put his side of the oxygen to good use. I remember the evil guys doing a briefing on Max and they have surveillance video except it's clearly being filmed right over his shoulder.

  16. Get Smart was a great series in many ways, but the best part had to be Don Adams perfect timing. He was great in being able to deliver a line, then wait a moment, then react to whatever nonsense he had just spouted with a look like "I wish I could take that back." Followed by a quick apology or change of subject, of course.

    As to Thunderball, that was the best underwater battle in any film. Period. It did make me wonder, even as a teenager, why the SPECTRE guys would fight to the finish and not just get out of there when things got bad. And, of course, just where do you go to recruit a private army like that??