Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

A festival similar to Mardi Gras celebrated in Nassau, Bahamas, complete with elaborate floats, marching bands, and a party in the streets—all of which become an elaborate backdrop to the action in Thunderball. In the story, Bond (Sean Connery) is captured by SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) and her thugs, who plan to transport him by car to the Palmyra estate of Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). On the way, they’re held up by the parade, and a drunk happens to put his bottle of liquor in the window near Fiona, who is lighting her cigarette. Bond kicks outward and the liquor splashes into the car, allowing 007 to create a momentary distraction by igniting the liquor and dive out of the vehicle. Wounded in the ankle by a stray bullet, he limps his way through the parade and ends up in the bathroom at the Kiss Kiss Club, where a hasty tourniquet stops the bleeding.

Though the real Junkanoo was normally held on Boxing Day, December 26, the Nassau Junkanoo in Thunderball was staged during Easter 1965, when Eon Productions offered to back the whole affair with cash prizes for the most elaborate costumes. For the sequence, 548 locals were hired, along with 55 European extras. “The Junkanoo was a real parade,” remembered Richard Jenkins, a third assistant director, who had also worked with Terence Young on The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965). “Terence planned to film around the parade as it moved through downtown Nassau. He told us that whatever happened, we weren’t to try to stop it or move it backward. We just had to shoot around it, doing the best we could. We all told Terence that his advice was very sensible. The parade was something like two miles long, traveling around in a big circle, and there were forty companies cosponsoring the event. To bring the whole thing to a halt might have caused a riot.

“As the parade moved through Nassau, there was this constant rhythm of whistle, whistle, boom, boom. And for two nights, that was all we heard. The performers were wild, and when their paper costumes began to loosen up, they would take them off and heat them over flames to make them stiff again. Several times, our camera picked up a crowd of people coming around a corner with nothing on. Well, this whistle, whistle, boom, boom had been going on for six hours the second night when Terence finally called out, ‘I’ve got a headache, we must stop the parade for a little while.’ And Terry Churcher, Robert Watts, and I just stood there, transfixed. There must have been forty-five thousand people watching the parade by then, and we were afraid to walk out there and stop the momentum. But we did it, and Terence was able to realign some cameras and continue shooting. I remember that later the same evening, Terence was sipping some champagne from a paper cup when he said, ‘God, this is a rough location—my champagne is warm.’”[1]

[1] Richard Jenkins, interview by Steven Jay Rubin, London, June 18, 1977.


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