Bond’s Casual Attire in Thunderball

Today’s the day I leave for the beach for an annual week-long vacation in South Carolina. It’s extraordinarily relaxing and, next to Christmas, is the focal point of my year. There’ll be continuous posts all week, but I won’t have too much access for comment responses so I apologize if I’m late.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Thunderball.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Thunderball (1965).

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, British secret agent

Nassau, September 1965

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

Background

Although known to many fans as the film where Bond spends half of his time underwater, which Connery himself commented on in a 1965 Playboy article, Bond does indeed spend some time in the Bahamas on dry land. Notably, he is invited to villain-and-hero bonding time at Largo’s estate, Palmyra. For this, he dresses casually without reverting to the mixed-reception sport shirt and sports he wears for his more aquatic adventures.

He also wears a matching blue set of shirt and pants when meeting with Q which, well… you can decide for yourself.

What’d He Wear?

Visit to Palmyra

Bond shows up at Palmyra in a very light and comfortable outfit. His shirt is a white sport shirt with a dulled blue butcher’s stripe. The wide butcher’s stripe is a strong and simple yet impressive look for summer, especially with open-necked shirts like Bond wears. Simon Crompton wrote a good piece about these in his Permanent Style blog a few years ago. Crompton explains the natural reason for the stripe’s nomenclature, as it resembles the stripe size traditionally found on butcher’s aprons.

In keeping with the casual look, the short-sleeve shirt has a camp collar and a slightly curved front hem so that the shirt can be successfully worn untucked. Additional details include a breast pocket and 3/4″ cuffed sleeves. It has a very straight fit with short side vents. Initially, while talking to his CIA cronies, Bond appears to wear a white sleeveless undershirt, but this has disappeared by the time he gets to Palmyra.

Bond may spend 40% of Thunderball underwater, but he also spends 40% of it squinting while above water. The other 20% he probably spends in bed with various women.

Bond may spend 40% of Thunderball underwater, but he also spends 40% of it squinting while above water. The other 20% he probably spends in bed with various women.

To further combat the heat, Bond wears a pair of cream-colored linen flat front trousers. They have plain-hemmed bottoms, rather than cuffs, with no break. This keeps them short enough to prevent his trouser legs from dancing with the ground or his exposed feet. Many men are tempted to wear shorts in the summer, but a pair of linen pants can be refreshingly cool and look miles better.

Bond makes the rounds at Palmyra.

Bond makes the rounds at Palmyra.

For the first time in the series, Bond wears a pair of sandals. They are brown leather and have three straps – a toe strap, a midfoot strap, and a heel strap. The straps over the toe and midfoot are adjustable.

Bond’s wristwatch is his Q-issued stainless Breitling Top Time, supposedly fitted with an internal geiger counter. The watch has a round black dial, dual silver sub-dials at 3:00 and 9:00, and brass bracelet joints.

So far, eight different places have laughed at me for asking to see their geiger counter wristwatches :(

So far, eight different places have laughed at me for asking to see their geiger counter wristwatches 😦

The Breitling was the only non-Rolex watch prominently featured on Connery’s wrist in the EON Productions Bond canon. According to MI6-HQ.com:

The Bond art department commissioned Valley Tool Company to create a bespoke underwater ‘Geiger counter’ case with glazed bezel for the Breitling timepiece. There was only one of these watches made for the film, making this particular Bond gadget totally unique. Lost since filming, this watch has only recently been rediscovered.

After it was bought for just £25 at a car boot sale in England a couple of years ago, the watch will be auctioned by Christies as Lot 49 in the ‘Pop Culture’ event on June 26th 2013 in London. It’s estimated sale price is £40,000 – £60,000.

Although the estimate was that the watch would sell for around £50,000, MI6-HQ.com reported that the watch indeed went for a grand total of £104,000 to a currently unnamed bidder. This is about $160,000 in real money (for any Americans reading).

Kind of Blue

It might not be a terrible look, but it’s not my favorite either. During the CIA/MI6 “summit” in Nassau, Bond wears a blue pantsuit that resembles – to my inexperienced eyes – a pair of comfortable short-sleeve pajamas.

The sport shirt is royal blue with a camp collar and four large white mother-of-pearl buttons down a plain front. There is a patch pocket on each hip, just like my barber wears. The bottom hem is straight with two shoulder darts pressed down the back of the shirt. Like the butcher’s stripe shirt, the sleeves have a short sewn cuff.

On its own, the shirt is a cool vintage piece...

On its own, the shirt is a cool vintage piece…

The flat front trousers are also the exact same royal blue, with a pressed crease down each tapered leg. The bottoms are plain-hemmed, with no cuffs. In some shots, the trouser crease matches up perfectly with the lines of the hip pockets, creating an odd vertical effect.

... but with matching pants, things get a little weird. At least Q embraces that he is an old man and dresses accordingly.

… but with matching pants, things get a little weird.
At least Q embraces that he is an old man and dresses accordingly. Kudos to Desmond Llewelyn, who would continue to be the coolest old guy in the world for the next 35 years.

On his head, Bond sports a very tropical-looking straw pork pie hat with a checked cotton ribbon with stripes in varying shades of blue and white. Standard for the ’60s, it has a short brim. While out on the water with Felix, Bond also wears his black Harlequin wayfarer sunglasses.

Bond at play in the Bahamas. The people on the far left are very starstruck, aren't they?

Bond at play in the Bahamas.
The people on the far left are very starstruck, aren’t they?

Bond’s feet aren’t clearly seen during this scene, but he appears to be wearing black leather loafers, much like he also wears later at the Junkanoo. However, he wears these shoes with no socks.

His watch is the standard Rolex Submariner on an undersized RAF strap, seen in most other scenes of the film. It is this scene, though, where Q issues him his geiger counter Breitling.

Bond's Rolex is replaced in this scene by the Breitling.

Bond’s Rolex is replaced in this scene by the Breitling.

Go Big or Go Home

Bond rides around Nassau in style, having rented a sweet silver-blue ’65 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible with a white soft top. In one of the earlier instances of Bond product placement, Ford provided many cars for the film, including Bond’s rented Lincoln, Fiona’s Mustang, Count Lippe’s Fairlane, and Largo’s ’65 Thunderbird. Bond’s rental has a 430 cubic inch Ford MEL engine, making 345 horsepower. Compare this to the last rental car you had. Times have changed…

"Sir, we have a 2011 Taurus or a 1965 Continental. Which would you prefer?"

“Sir, we have a 2011 Taurus or a 1965 Continental. Which would you prefer?”

As typical, Bond lives his usual high life while in Nassau. He shows up to Largo’s estate and is immediately confronted with a gorgeous woman in the pool, a refreshing summer cocktail, and a shotgun.

What to Imbibe

Rum CollinsThe drink that Largo kindly offers to Bond, and which Bond naturally accepts, is a Rum Collins. As you may have guessed, a Rum Collins is a rum-based variant of the venerable Tom Collins.

Rum Collins

You’ll need light rum, lemon juice, and sugar syrup. Some recipes call for lime juice rather than lemon juice, but lemon juice is the ingredient in a Tom Collins and it tastes just as good to me. In the end, do what feels good.

Pour three parts light rum, two parts lemon juice, and one part sugar syrup into an ice-filled shaker. Shake it until it’s very cold – since you’re likely drinking this in the summer heat – and pour into a Collins glass, also filled with ice. Fill the glass to the top with carbonated water and add your garnishment. Largo only gives Bond a lemon slice, but you can also add a maraschino cherry or switch it up and use an orange or lime slice. Enjoy!

2013-06-19 05.38.42 pm dk

How to Get the Look

If you're gonna pick one of these to try and emulate, I suggest this.

If you’re gonna pick one of these to try and emulate, I suggest this.

Easily imitated, but not quite as easily pulled off, Bond looks very sporting and cool in the warm Bahamian climate.

  • White short-sleeve sport shirt with blue butcher’s stripe, camp collar, breast pocket, and short side vents
  • Cream linen flat front trousers with plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Brown leather three-strap sandals
  • Breitling Top Time stainless steel wristwatch

The accessories are the best part of the blue outfit, but here’s the breakdown if you’re interested:

  • Royal blue short-sleeve sport shirt with camp collar, 4 mother-of-pearl buttons down a plain front, hip patch pockets, and rear darts
  • Royal blue flat front trousers with plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Black leather slip-on loafers
  • Short-brimmed straw pork pie hat with blue and white checked cotton band
  • Black wayfarer-style sunglasses – Bond’s were likely made by Harlequin
  • Rolex Submariner wristwatch on an undersized RAF strap

The blue shirt, however, might look good with the cream trousers. I’m not sure about vice versa, as the blue stripes may clash with the blue trousers. I’d say to just skip the blue trousers in general unless you want to look like Pete Campbell from the waist down.

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

The Gun

Largo may have thought he would be intimidating his lunch guest by leaving two shotguns in plain view, but Bond quickly asserts himself as the man in charge:

Bond: That gun, it looks more fitting for a woman.
Largo: You know much about guns, Mr. Bond?
Bond: No, but I know a little about women.

The gun in question is a Remington Model 1100, a semi-automatic shotgun that was previously seen in the hands of Fiona Volpe while shooting clay pigeons. This type of 12-gauge shotgun, with its long ribbed barrel, was used primarily for sport and target shooting. It was very new at the type, having been developed in 1963 as an evolution of the early Remington Model 11.

Point a shotgun at James Bond and he'll still mock you.

Point a shotgun at James Bond and he’ll still mock you.

Interestingly, although almost definitely not related, the Remington Model 11 was used famously in the hands of a woman. Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) had a customized sawed-down Remington Model 11 20-gauge that she called her “whipit” gun. For a woman less than 100 pounds and under 5′ tall, a sawed-off shotgun is no joke.

To test his mettle, Bond is given a Browning Auto-5 shotgun by Largo. The Auto-5 was an older weapon, first introduced in 1902. In fact, it was the first semi-automatic shotgun to see mass production. As opposed to the sleeker Model 1100 used by Fiona and Largo, the Auto-5 had a distinctive raised rear end (“humpback”). The top of the action was straight back, level with the barrel, until cutting down sharply towards the stock. This differentiated the Auto-5 from later variants like the Remington.

A Browning Auto-5 with a shorter barrel than the sporting version seen in Thunderball.

A Browning Auto-5 with a shorter barrel than the sporting version seen in Thunderball.

Most Auto-5 shotguns were made in 12-gauge and 20-gauge, with some 16-gauge models also entering production. Shells were loaded into a three or five round tubular magazine under the barrel. Most A-5s have removable magazine plugs to prevent more than three shells from being loaded to comply with U.S. Federal migratory waterfowl laws and some state hunting regulations. Two rounds would fit into the magazine and one in the chamber. With the plug removed, two more rounds can be loaded, bringing the grand total to five.

The Browning Auto-5 was designed by master gunsmith John Browning and first manufactured by Fabrique Nationale (FN) in Belgium. A proud American, Browning had initially taken the Auto-5 to Winchester and Remington, but Winchester refused his terms and the president of Remington died while Browning waited to hear back from him. Not wishing to delay further, Browning took his design to FN, which had previously produced some of his pistols like the Model 1900.

Eddie Izzard makes a great point about sport shooting: "And clay pigeons - everyone shoots them in the air. Wait 'til they land! Then go up to the clay pigeon... POW! Much easier."

Eddie Izzard makes a great point about sport shooting: “And clay pigeons – everyone shoots them in the air. Wait ’til they land! Then go up to the clay pigeon… POW! Much easier.”

The Auto-5 quickly spawned a number of variants, from the aforementioned Remington Model 11 (produced from 1905-1948 as the first American semi-automatic shotgun) and the Savage Model 720, first developed in 1930. The gun saw plenty of service, from Depression-era bandits and policemen to military services in the major wars of the 20th century. The last Browning Auto-5, made by Browning Arms of Ogden, Utah, rolled out of the plant in 1998.

Do Yourself A Favor And…

Buy the film and, please, try and avoid matching shirts and pants if you’re not going to be sleeping in them.

The Quote

It looks very difficult. (shatters a clay pigeon while shooting from the hip) Why no, it isn’t, is it?

Footnotes

Both outfits – the striped shirt and the blue matching set – were very recently covered by Matt Spaiser’s wonderful blog, The Suits of James Bond. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.

7 comments

  1. teeritz

    Can’t believe that Top Time sold for so much. I paid the same for my house back in 1999. Have a great vacation, sir, and keep a look-out for a Claudine Auger look-alike. You never know 😉

    Like

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  4. Peter

    I’d recommend trying a rum Collins with some lime juice — you can even mix in both. Being a tropical liquor, rum mixes nice with lime and a Collins can be mixed with either citrus. I’d also recommend being careful about the size of your glass, as it’s easy to dilute a good Collins by adding too much soda with the fill.

    Like

  5. Pingback: James Bond's Revere Collar Camp Shirt - Iconic Alternatives
  6. Pingback: Bond Hits the Beach in Thunderball | BAMF Style

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