Bond Hits the Beach in Thunderball

I hope you’re all having a warm first day of summer! If anyone is looking to hit the beach soon – and you hopefully will – take a few tips from Bond in Thunderball, who spends plenty of his time beachcombing and getting into underwater battles with international terrorists armed with harpoons.

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger in Thunderball.

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger in Thunderball (1965).

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, sophisticated British secret agent and sportsman

Nassau, September 1965

Film: Thunderball
Release Date: December 29, 1965
Director: Terence Young

Background

Sensing both a genuine lead and genuine lust, Bond convinces M to send him to Nassau to do his part for Operation Thunderball. Luckily for Bond, it’s September (for the sake of this blog, let’s call it summer) and tourist season is in full swing. Bond’s first order of business is to visit the beach in Nassau.

Later, BAMF Style will focus on some of Bond’s non-beach attire while “vacationing” in the Bahamas, notably the striped shirt and linen trousers he wears while visiting Largo at his estate, Palmyra. Bond also sports a matching blue shirt and pants, but the “pajama suit” is a bit too dated to be considered BAMF. Doesn’t mean you’ll never see it here, though…

What’d He Wear?

Swimming in Nassau

Sean Connery appears as the unofficial spokesperson for Jantzen swimwear in Thunderball, wearing three different pairs of swimming trunks from the brand, which created its first bathing suit one hundred years ago in Oregon. His standard swimwear is a light blue pair of swimming trunks with a very short inseam. The shorts have a continuous black elastic belt, worn through button-down belt loops along the top of the suit. Jantzen’s distinctive black “diving girl” logo is visible on the lower left leg of the shorts. The shorts are fastened with a small white button on an extended waistband tab. There is a small flapped pocket on the right side, not quite large enough for Bond’s PPK should he find himself in any underwater danger. Of course he’s also underwater so it wouldn’t do him much good.

While not filming, Sean Connery enjoyed more scholarly pursuits.

While not filming, Sean Connery enjoyed more scholarly pursuits.

Interestingly, Don Draper pitched the Jantzen team in the first episode of Mad Men‘s fourth season, set in late 1964, four months before Thunderball was filmed. The Jantzen team turns down Draper’s ad for being too risque. It is interesting that the “family-oriented” company would refuse Draper’s ad but would let its brand be associated with a film franchise centered around sex and violence. Of course, Mad Men is fiction, but it still raises an interesting point.

Jantzen shorts are featured on the excellent James Bond Lifestyle site, with a great description and history of the shorts worn by Bond. The actual shorts themselves were also part of a Bond 50 exhibit.

After getting out of the water and drying off, Bond grabs a rose-colored short-sleeve linen sport shirt, throwing it on as he and Domino walk onto the beach. Naturally, as he is only wearing swimming trunks, he leaves the shirt untucked.

Bond's look in Thunderball is considerably more casual than his attire in Goldfinger.

Bond’s look in Thunderball is considerably more casual than his attire in Goldfinger.

The shirt has a camp collar and five white buttons down the plain front. It is fitted with shoulder pleats and a slightly curved hem with side vents that end in a point on the front. The shirt also has a rounded breast pocket.

Bond and his idea of a "scholarly pursuit".

Bond and his idea of a “scholarly pursuit”.

Bond’s beach shoes, worn throughout Thunderball, are a pair of light blue canvas espadrilles with double elastic gussets, worn with no socks. Canvas slip-ons like these are a good choice for people like me who, after an unfortunate toenail incident, avoid open-toed shoes whenever possible. The shoes cover the feet and toes to protect them, but the canvas is still light enough to allow the feet to breathe. This is also especially smart for a man of action like Bond who can’t afford to go slipping over his own feet in flip flops or sandals if danger arises.

For anyone interested, the gun in the henchman's hand is a Beretta M1951, a 9x19 mm pistol that could be considered the precursor to the Beretta 92FS, now in the hands of the U.S. military.

For anyone interested, the gun in the henchman’s hand is a Beretta M1951, a 9mm pistol that could be considered the precursor to the Beretta 92FS, now in the hands of the U.S. military.

Bond wears his trademark Rolex Submariner 6538 wristwatch on his usual undersized striped RAF strap. This is the same watch that he wore in Goldfinger. Although he is later issued a geiger-counter Breitling Top Time by Q, Bond only wears the Breitling during his visit to Palmyra.

It's 3:58 somewhere...

It’s 3:58 somewhere…

Nighttime Investigation

After emerging from the water during a covert nighttime investigation, Bond slips on one of the few clearly-branded items of attire in the franchise history, a navy blue Fred Perry short-sleeve polo shirt. Fred Perry was a championship-winning English tennis player and table tennis-er (seriously) who began his career in clothing with the development of the first sweatband in the late 1940s. By 1952, Fred Perry was a recognized clothing brand with his tennis shirts finding immediate success at Wimbledon. Perry passed away in 1955, but the shirt lived on, eventually in more colors than the original white as mods began wearing more diverse palettes. The brand’s logo, a laurel wreath, can be clearly seen on Bond’s left breast. The brand still exists today, under the ownership of a Japanese corporation.

With his polo, short white shorts, and warm smile, this is the most that James Bond has ever resembled Mad Men's Bob Benson.

With his polo, short white shorts, and warm smile, this is the most that James Bond has ever resembled Mad Men‘s Bob Benson.

Although he was spying, Bond inexplicably wears his brightest pair of Jantzen swimming trunks – colored in white – while underwater. These ones feature an orange-red “diving girl” logo.

Bond pairs the navy polo and white trunks with his usual light blue canvas slip-ons and Rolex with the RAF strap. While underwater, he wears a red rubber zip-up wet suit over the polo.

Private Beach Relaxation

Bond lets a softer side emerge with his all pink swimming ensemble during his private beach time with Domino. Here, his shirt has a fine pink-and-white gingham check. Like the first, it is a short-sleeve linen shirt with a camp collar and five white buttons down a plain front. The shirt also has a breast pocket and rear shoulder pleats. However, this shirt has a straight-hemmed bottom with side vents.

TB-beach-pink1

Bond’s swimming trunks are his third pair of Jantzens, this time in mottled pink. Like the others, they have a short inseam and button-down belt loops. Bond wears these with no belt, though.

It seems like she stayed wet long after he managed to dry off. Weird...

It seems like she stayed wet long after he managed to dry off. Weird…

For the second time in the series, we get to see Bond in a pair of sunglasses. He looks much cooler than Felix Leiter, who stands out like a sore thumb in his seersucker suit and sunglasses while “covertly” watching Bond. Bond’s are a pair of dark wayfarers, the Oliver Goldsmith Consul model, evident by the vertical hinge pins on the front of the frames and the horizontal side pins.

(I previously had the sunglasses listed as Harlequin, an American brand, until Simon Courtney corrected me in the comments section. Thanks, Simon!)

Sometimes, Sean Connery can't help but to look exactly like Sean Connery.

Sometimes, Sean Connery can’t help but to look exactly like Sean Connery.

He also wears his Rolex with this outfit and – after swimming to Palymra – his blue canvas slip-ons.

Prior to this scene, when Bond is out on helicopter surveillance with Felix, we get a brief flash of Bond wearing the exact same outfit in blue – a blue gingham short-sleeve shirt and the blue Jantzen shorts. Interestingly, he wears no wristwatch.

Bond is always sure to out-dress Felix.

Bond is always sure to out-dress Felix.

Go Big or Go Home

Bond is a hell of a swimmer, as even M notes his “enthusiasm for water sports.” His isn’t just the frat boys’ obsession of being around gorgeous women in bathing suits, although Bond certainly gets his share. Geez.

Seriously, if you’re a big fan of attractive Bond girls, Thunderball is your movie. After seducing his nurse at Shrublands, Bond heads to the Bahamas where he ditches one tan bikini-clad beauty for another and eventually hops into bed with a fiery and rather buxom redhead who packs a pistol and drives a Mustang.

Bond’s time in the Bahamas, when he’s not fighting terrorists underwater, is pretty much dedicated to women. After meeting Domino, he treats her to a lunch of conch chowder. She doesn’t fall for it, calling him out on the fact that conch chowder is known for being an aphrodisiac, but he eventually seals the deal anyway. He manages to combine two passions by actually having sex with her while deep-sea diving.

The typical Bond staples are also present. He doesn’t stray far from his Walther PPK, keeping it – with the suppressor attached – fastened underneath a table in his hotel room. Of course, if he’s out to sea with nary a PPK around, he improvises with a spear gun.

Bond also mixes himself a refreshing vodka martini, with plenty of ice, using the Smirnoff Blue (100-proof) vodka and Cinzano vermouth kept in his hotel room bar.

Whatever happened to the good old days where hotel bars actually had full bottles of vodka and vermouth?

Whatever happened to the good old days where hotel bars actually had full bottles of vodka and vermouth?

How to Get the Look

Bond’s base outfit is a set of short swimming trunks, canvas slip-on shoes, and a pink short-sleeve button-up shirt, mixing up accessories such as a wristwatch or sunglasses. Most importantly, Bond stays cool in a very warm tropical climate.

Bond and Domino enjoy some private time on the beach.

Bond and Domino enjoy some private time on the beach.

  • Pink linen short-sleeve shirt with camp collar, plain front, and breast pocket – Bond’s are either pink-and-white gingham or solid rose pink, both worn untucked
  • Light blue, white, or light pink Jantzen short-inseam swimming trunks with a removable black elastic belt in button-down belt loops
  • Light blue canvas slip-on espadrilles
  • Rolex Submariner 6538 wristwatch on an undersized RAF strap
  • Black-framed wayfarer-style sunglasses

Bond also sports the navy blue Fred Perry short-sleeve polo. Dark navy polos are a dime-a-dozen, but note that Bond wears his at night; it would likely be too warm to be refreshing during the day.

Iconic Alternatives has a great rundown of affordable options to channel elements of this, such as the sunglassesrevere-collared sport shirts, swim trunks, and espadrilles, and many other 007 outfits.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the film and go stick your head in the sand somewhere.

The Quote

Domino: What sharp little eyes you’ve got…
Bond: Wait ’til you get to my teeth.

Anyone know the story behind this?

Anyone know the story behind this?

Footnotes

Matt Spaiser has also written about the rose shirt, gingham shirt, blue polo, and shoes on his blog, The Suits of James Bond.

An image of Sean Connery as Bond in the pink gingham shirt somehow made its way onto the cover of a very awkward poster for the film. The top portion is an extreme close up of Connery smiling, with the top reading: “James Bond in Thunderball” with the titles of the previous Bond movies underneath. The bottom of the poster has a lovely and shapely young lady reclining in a bikini, although she appears to have no connection to the film whatsoever.

26 comments

  1. Hal

    Fred Perry a golfer?

    I’m not sure that’s right. It was a different sport with an American Open (and an Australian and a French Open), wasn’t it?

    Or am I not getting the joke?

    Like

  2. teeritz

    Only Connery could wear fuschia and still look butch. And I have to say that understrapped Sub has always bugged me. It looks like a 16mm strap on 20mm lugs. One theory suggested that the watch belonged to one of the crew (who was ex-Royal Navy), and somebody in wardrobe went out to get the strap from a corner news-stand so that it could fit Connery’s wrist without needing links removed from the bracelet.
    Great write-up!

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Thanks! That’s a great story, I’m just picturing the crew running all around Nassau looking for a watch strap now. Movie preparation must have been much different back then, as I’ve heard the sunglasses were picked up on the fly as well. Now, they would probably contact all the major companies to see who could give the best placement deals!

      Like

    • David s

      The strap made its first appearance in the GOLDFINGER opening sequence, probably sourced so the watch could be worn on the outside of the costume “dry suit” that he swims up in. It must’ve been 16mm wide or so. It gets its hero shot later in the sequence when Bond checks the time in a cantina just before his demolition job delivers the goods.

      Interesting that it was retained and made a followup appearance in the next film.

      The watch is reported to be Albert Broccoli’s own 6538, given to the costumer/prop man for DR. NO when Rolex refused to provide a watch for the production. It appeared in the next four films, on a crocodile strap for Dr. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, and this nylon strap for the next two productions.

      I’ve done research on the pattern, and come up only with suppositions. Some claim it’s the Royal Scots Guards colors on the strap, which could make sense. I think it’s a near match for the Royal Navy Wireless Auxiliary Long Service and Good Conduct medal ribbon. I also wonder if someone was sent running with a £1 note to get the strap from Pinewood when Goldfinger was filmed, so it could’ve just been a good, dark colored strap that wouldn’t stand out against the black dry suit costume.

      Like

  3. Roman

    Eh, umm. Post is as detailed as always, but…
    Shorts. Are. Not. Cool. Never were, never will be. Not even Bond can make them cool.

    Like

    • teeritz

      “Thunderball” was the highest grossing Bond film (adjusted for inflation) until “Skyfall” last year. I can’t help but think that putting Connery in a pair of shorts for this film had as much to do with giving the ladies some eye candy as it did with what to wear in Nassau in the Summer of ’65.

      Like

    • luckystrike721

      Roman,
      While I certainly would never go in for an inseam that short, Bond does need to wear something when he goes swimming, I suppose. However, I’m certainly glad that swimming trunks have lengthened in the years since – my grandfather tells a story of his trip to Hawaii with my grandma after he returned from WWII. It was his first visit to the beach and, being Irish-German, he was ill-prepared. The very short shorts for men at the time resulted in very badly burned legs and he had to sleep crouched over his bed.
      Teeritz also makes a good point – Thunderball probably gave a few more 1965 girlfriends a reason to go see Bond. The makers made up for it by giving men Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi, and Martine Beswick. I myself made sure to include Claudine a few times while making this post. (Although admittedly not enough!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • teeritz

        Ahh, Claudine. She and Daniella Bianchi were the best Bond Girls of the Sixties…with Shirley Eaton running a very close third. Very close.
        Regarding that watch strap again, it was first seen in “Goldfinger” the year before. You would think that after all the money that “Goldfinger” made, Cubby Broccoli would have sprung for an actual Rolex Submariner for Connery to wear in the next film. Some folks have said that the Sub worn by Connery was in fact Broccoli’s own, but he never struck me as a dive watch wearing kind of guy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • luckystrike721

          My favorites as well, Teeritz! I can’t ignore Diana Rigg either, she certainly brought the magic trio of beauty, brains, and brawn to the role.

          Your wristwatch expertise is unparalleled (in my travels so far at least) – do you happen to know what Connery wore off-set?

          Like

  4. teeritz

    You know, I had actually typed in Diana Rigg. And then I remembered Shirley Eaton’s look shortly after Bond pushes her down on the bed when he’s on the phone to Headquarters. Rigg became 4th on the list, but in terms of the kind of girl Bond would marry, then Rigg’s Tracey Di Vicenzo was perfect.
    No idea what Connery wore in private life. There’s already enough heated debate about what kind of Rolex Bond wore in Fleming’s books. This picture (Connery with beard, thinning hair, and camera in hand);
    http://tsutpen.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/before-and-after-292-sean-connery.html
    …shows a thin watch that makes me wanna say “Omega” (based on the lug design), but so many brands were producing a similar style of watch back in the Sixties, so it could be anything. There’s bound to be a better picture somewhere on the web.

    Like

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  9. Simon Courtney

    The sunglasses are not Harlequin. They are Oliver Goldsmith Consul. Terence Young would have dressed Sean Connery in an English brand.

    Like

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  13. Frederick Drury

    Still no match to the sunglasses in this pic. The OG Consul’s do not have temples this thick, and the double dots are nearly attached here, as opposed to the Consuls, which are millimeters apart. Regardless of Terence Young’s theoretical preference for Brit wear, we have yet to see these super iconic shades identified.

    Like

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  16. Dave

    This is actually the front cover of a brochure published at the time of Thunderball’s release, consisting of lots of photographs from the previous films as well as interviews with Connery, the girls, etc.

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