Sunday, November 23, 2008


Most people, even avid James Bond fans, don't realize that Ian Fleming's THUNDERBALL was originally titled THUNDERFART. It was going to be about a special SPECTRE operative who was scientifically altered so that his incredibly rank farts could wreak havoc in whatever situation he may be assigned to infiltrate. In this case, mysterious SPECTRE leader Blofeld would order Thunderfart, disguised as James Bond 007, to enter the office of Bond's boss, "M", and fart him into oblivion. Bond, of course, would catch wind of this malodorous scheme and, with the help of "Q" branch, acquire a similar farting capability in order to go fart-to-fart against the evil Thunderfart. If the original script is any indication, this would have resulted in one of the most explosive finales to any Bond adventure.

When asked why such a promising story was altered so drastically, even to the point of having to rename it THUNDERBALL, producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli was evasive. "I'm not sure what you're talking about," he told a reporter during filming. "Certainly, we toyed with the idea of a villain with super farting capability, but this concept never reached the final script phase. In fact, the closest we got to it was a henchman character named Fart Job, although he was dropped early in the process due to our inability to sign actor Rip Taylor for the part."

Sean Connery had a more negative attitude toward the whole thing. "I thought the idea stunk," he said over a light lunch of squab under glass at Tootsie's one Sunday afternoon. "[Co-producer] Harry Saltzman quite literally pulled it out of his ass one day while we were playing golf. He bent over to pick up his Slazenger 7 somewhere near the eighteenth hole, and cut a fart so powerful that it knocked me clean out the back of my golf cart. I was unconscious for fifteen minutes, and when I came to, Harry was rambling about how great it would be if 007 were to encounter a foe with frighteningly intense farting skills. I told him he was daft, but he wouldn't be put off. He even toyed with the idea of doing the whole thing up in Smell-o-vision.

"I whimsically suggested that perhaps this character might devise some grand plot to rob Fart Knox, which Harry actually considered till he realized the similarity to GOLDFINGER. That's when the idea for THUNDERFART began to gather wind. Harry brought it up with Cubby, and they holed themselves up in an office somewhere with several crates of baked beans, some spoons, and three barrels of Guinness. I'm not sure how far they ever got with the script treatment, but when they came out of there all the wallpaper had peeled off the walls and three potted plants were stone dead. Both their hair had turned snow white. They still don't know what became of Harry's cat."

With only the germ of an idea to show for their weeks of work, they turned to veteran Bond scripter Richard Maibaum to flesh it out. "I thought they'd both gone stark, raving coo-coo," Maibaum confided to The Daily Mail while polevaulting over a moat filled with maneating alligators as he and his valiant army of warrior knights lay siege to the castle of the evil King Sylvester Stallone (no relation to the actor). "There hadn't been a successful spy thriller with a 'super-farting' premise since Hitchcock's THE 39 FARTS or his later film, THE MAN WHO FARTED TOO MUCH. Of course, the great D.W. Griffith started it all back in 1919 with his silent but deadly epic INCONTINENCE, which set the standard. But I just couldn't see the idea working for a Bond film. Especially since Sean, unbeknownst to many of his fans, is physically incapable of farting."

Asked about this later, Connery was reticent to confirm Maibaum's claim. "I've been known to 'cut one' if the occasion called for it," he asserted over a late dinner of meatloaf under glass at Denny's on Wilton Avenue, 1967. "But to my embarrassment, my gaseous emissions are rather high-pitched and 'quacky'--not unlike the sound of an enormously fat woman sitting on a duck. Passable for daily use, of course, but hardly cinematic. Someone brought up the idea of dubbing me, but I balked. If those weren't going to be my own genuine farts up there on the screen, then what's the point? Besides," he added, tucking into a rich dessert of banana split under glass, "it was subsequently discovered that Ian Fleming himself had written a similar, unpublished story, which I thought would make a better film, entitled OCTOPOOTY."

We may never know whether or not THUNDERFART would've been better than OCTOPOOTY, but this surviving excerpt from an early draft of the script may help us decide. In this pre-titles sequence, Bond has been summoned to M's office for a briefing:


M is sitting at his desk, smoking a pipe, apparently unaware of Bond's presence as he pours over some papers. Bond sits across from him, waiting. Presently, M looks up with a dour expression.

M: "Did you just fart?"

BOND: (taken aback) "Never on the company's time, sir."

M: "Then it must be this case that stinks. The PM's having a BM about it. Seems SPECTRE's got a new secret weapon they're threatening to unleash on London unless we pay them...a million pounds."

BOND: (smirking) "A...'million' pounds, sir?"

M: "This isn't 'Austin Powers', 007. We're not doing retro-irony yet."

BOND: (abashed) "Of course not, sir."

M: "You're to infiltrate their organization and find out anything you can about... Operation Thunderfart."

BOND: " that as ominous as it sounds?"

M: "Worse. SPECTRE claims to have an agent who can fart clear across London, with a stench rank enough to knock a flock of buzzards off a dinosaur turd. They're threatening to render Buckingham Palace itself uninhabitable. Now get this, 007...I don't intend to have the Queen being farted right out of her own bed some night by a diabolical madman. Not on my watch."

BOND: "Of course not, sir."

M: "What do you know about beans?"

BOND: "Well...I know them when I see them."

M: "You'll be seeing a lot more of them. Henceforth, I want you to start eating beans non-stop. At least fifty cans a day, until you're a match for this...this Thunderfart." (places a can of beans and a spoon on his desk) "We've developed a special brand guaranteed to produce extra flatulence. You'll draw the rest from 'Q' branch on your way out."

BOND: "Anything else, sir?"

M: "You're not eating, 007."

BOND opens the can of beans and starts gulping them down as he rises and walks into the OUTER OFFICE. MONEYPENNY is at her desk.

MONEYPENNY: "How did it go, James?"

BOND: "Mmfff, glmmff."

MONEYPENNY: "Come again?"

BOND: (swallowing) "Sorry. Can't talk with my mouth full."

MONEYPENNY: "That's never stopped you before."

BOND: (roguishly) "And what do you know about flatulence, Moneypenny?"

MONEYPENNY: "Only the kind you get from eating too much cake. You know, cake?"

BOND: "Ahh yes, we should look into that someday, my dear. Meanwhile..."

BOND pauses as though stricken. Suddenly he unleashes a resounding fart that knocks his hat off the nearby hatrack. Moneypenny turns green and flops over her desk like a dead fish.

M: (over the intercom) "Really, 007! Try to hold your fire until you've left the office!"

BOND: "Sorry, sir. I didn't want to go off half-cocked."

This, of course, would have led directly into the familiar opening titles song, powerfully sung by Tom Jones, but featuring these previously-unheard lyrics:

He likes to make a lot of noise
Offending's one of his main joys
And flatulence is, to him, an art
So he Thunderfart.

Beans are his weapon, of choice
Through which he speaks in thund'rous voice
You're doomed to surrender from the start
If he Thunderfart.

Any room he is in, he'll clear
As each nose learns the meaning of true fear

He'll make you think that something's died
You'll try to run, but you can't hide
He smells just like dog poo a la carte
When he Thunderfart.

If you're stuck in a lift, with him
Hold your breath, or your will to live will dim

He never stops with only one
His farts go on and on and on
The seat of his pants he'll blow apart
When he Thuuunn...derrrr...FAARRRTTTT!

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