Posted by Jeff Stafford on October 20, 2007
I’ve been a James Bond fan since I first saw DR. NO in 1963 but I don’t think I realized how important the film score was to the series’ success until I saw GOLDFINGER (1964). The dazzling opening credit sequence with Shirley Bassey belting out the title song was a revelation to me and I immediately bought the soundtrack, playing it constantly. I even took the soundtrack LP along with my small portable turntable (2 speed -33 1/3 & 45 – battery operated) on the family vacation during the summer of 1965. Holding the turntable on my lap, I drove everyone crazy as I played GOLDFINGER and other records along the back roads of Tennessee and Georgia on our annual trip to Dalton to see relatives.
For obvious reasons, my turntable playing would only last as long as everyone’s tolerance for it but whenever I could I’d stick on GOLDFINGER, particularly the theme song, which sounded very “adult” to me. It wasn’t anything like the Herman’s Hermits “Best of” album or any of the pop 45s I’d brought along.
John Barry’s arrangement was big and bold, conjuring up a world of sophistication and high class sleaze, and Shirley Bassey’s commanding vocals brought out the casual cruelty of the lyrics, enunciating words like “SUCH” with haughty delight. So there we were driving past tobacco fields over bumpy roads with my record skipping and Bassey’s voice booming “Pretty girl, beware of..(scratch)…THIS HEART IS COLD…he loves only..(scratch)..only gold….” The record was practically ruined by the time we reached our destination much to everyone’s relief.
Even today the GOLDFINGER theme song remains a personal favorite and a perfect example of Barry at his most bombastic which is completely appropriate for the Bond films. I love the THUNDERBALL theme song almost as much and Tom Jones is the only male singer I can think of that can match Shirley Bassey in terms of dramatic phrasing and power. Of course, Bassey would go on to sing two more Bond theme songs, “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker,” but neither of those theme songs sunk their hooks into me like GOLDFINGER. Part of the magic formula might have been the collaboration of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley on the GOLDFINGER lyrics.
The third Bond film was also John Barry’s first opportunity to shine as the composer for the Bond franchise. He worked uncredited on DR. NO and he was the orchestra conductor on FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE but both of those films were scored by Monty Norman, the former big band singer who penned the famous “James Bond Theme Song” used in every 007 feature. The success of GOLDFINGER also helped launch Barry’s career in Hollywood but as the years passed I found myself liking less and less of his work and preferred his golden period in the sixties – BEAT GIRL (1960), SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (1964), THE KNACK (1965), THE IPCRESS FILE (1965), BORN FREE (1966), YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967), PETULIA (1968) and MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969).
GOLDFINGER, of course, is the one that made me take notice of John Barry but also made me realize that film scores and soundtrack albums were not necessarily background music and opened my ears to a whole new realm of listening pleasure.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Academy Awards Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art Direction Art in Movies Asians in Hollywood Australian CInema Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Black Film Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Children Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism Film Festival 2015 film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films About Gambling Films of the 1930s Films of the 1960s Films of the 1970s Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Memorabilia Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Magazines Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movie titles Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals New Releases Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Russian Film Industry Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Set design/production design Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Spaghetti Westerns Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival TCM Underground Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies U.S.S. Indianapolis Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies