Thunderball - Palmyra from the air

Exterior shots of Palmyra, as seen in Thunderball (1965).

Palmyra was the temporary residence of SPECTRE board-member and second-in-command, Emilio Largo. Located near Nassau in the Bahamas, the estate was utilized in SPECTRE's plot to steal atomic weaponry. It first appeared in the 1961 Ian Fleming novel Thunderball and was featured prominently in its 1965 motion picture adaptation of the same name. A very different version of Palmyra appeared in the unofficial 1983 film Never Say Never Again.


Novel background

In the novel, Palmyra was located at Lyford Key, a secluded spot situated away from tourists and prying eyes. The estate had been rented from its owner, an Englishman named Mr Bryce, six months prior to the events of the novel and served as Largo’s shore base and the anchorage for his yacht, the Disco Volante. Bond utilizes his knowledge of the property to approach Largo, posing as an interested party with Leiter as his lawyer and financial advisor.

Film background

Unofficial background


Palmyra, as seen in a Never Say Never Again deleted scene (1983).

Unlike previous versions of the property, the Palmyra featured in Never Say Never Again was a private estate of Moorish design located on the North African coastline. Enraged at Domino Petachi's romantic connection to Bond, Maximillian Largo traps the pair and takes them to Palmyra. Largo coldly punishes Domino for her betrayal by selling her to some passing Arabs. Bond subsequently escapes and rescues her while the estate comes under attack from Commander Pederson's submarine.

Behind the scenes

On arriving in Nassau, Thunderball producer Kevin McClory searched for possible locations to shoot many of the key sequences of the film and used the home of a local millionaire couple, the Sullivans, for Largo's estate, Palmyra.[1] Notably, Connery's life was placed in danger during the shark-tank sequence set in Palmyra. He had been concerned when he read the script and insisted that production designer Ken Adam build a special Plexiglas partition inside the pool. However, it was not a fixed structure and one of the sharks managed to pass through it.[2] Adam later told UK daily newspaper The Guardian,

"We used lots of sharks for this movie. I'd rented a villa in the Bahamas with a salt-water pool which we filled with sharks and used for underwater filming. The smell was horrendous. This was where Sean Connery came close to being bitten. We had a plexiglass corridor to protect him but I didn't have quite enough plexiglass and one of the sharks got through. He never got out of a pool faster in his life - he was walking on water."[3]

Another dangerous situation occurred when special effects coordinator John Stears brought in a supposed dead shark carcass to be towed around the pool. The shark, however, was not dead and revived at one point. Due to the dangers on the set, stuntman Bill Cummings demanded an extra fee of £250 to double for Largo's henchman Quist as he was dropped into the pool of sharks.[4]

For the unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983), Largo's Palmyran fortress was actually historic Fort Carré in Antibes.[5]



  1. (2006) 007 Mission Control: Exotic Locations. Thunderball Ultimate Edition DVD, Region 2,Disc 2: MGM/UA Home Entertainment. 
  2. (1995) The Thunderball Phenomenon. Thunderball Ultimate Edition DVD, Region 2, Disc 2: MGM/UA Home Entertainment. 
  3. Dee, Johnny. "Licensed to drill", 17 September 2005. Retrieved on 10 March 2016. 
  4. Production notes for Thunderball. Retrieved on 30 December 2007.
  5. Reeves, Tony (2001). The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Chicago: A Cappella, p.134. ISBN 978-1-55652-432-5.