Sunday, July 30, 2023

All The James Bond Themes Ranked, Part Three

We've featured a lot of great themes to accompany the fast-paced action of the James Bond series.  The best themes which fit the character and the franchise are spotlighted below!

by Tina Turner
From GoldenEye

Released in 1995, the 19th movie in the series saw Pierce Brosnan step into the role as 007.  It was the first Bond film to not use any material from author Ian Fleming.

Bond and Alec Trevelyan (superbly played by Sean Bean) infiltrated a Soviet chemical weapons facility known as Arkangel.  Trevelyan is caught and apparently killed by Colonel Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov (played by Gottfried John), but Bond was able to destroy the site and escape.

The former Agent 006 Trevelyan is scarred and bitter but alive and vows revenge on the system which he feels let him down.  Bean's performance is seen as one of the best in Bond history, as he is both a physical as well as a psychological threat. 

GoldenEye also stars Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Robbie Coltrane, Tchéky Karyo, Alan Cumming, Michael Kitchen, Serena Gordon and Minnie Driver.  Judi Dench was cast as M, the first female in the role and one that Dench reprised several times in the coming years.

Bono and the Edge from U2 wrote the theme song, recorded by Tina Turner.  It reached #3 in France and Finland, #5 in Austria, #6 in Switzerland, #8 in Germany, #9 in Denmark and Norway and #10 in the U.K.


"For Your Eyes Only"
by Sheena Easton
from For Your Eyes Only

John Glen made his directorial debut in this 1981 film produced by Albert Broccoli. Roger Moore returned as Bond in the 12th movie in the canon based on two Ian Fleming short stories, "For Your Eyes Only" and "Risico". Bond must locate a stolen missile system that jeopardized British submarines while in the wrong hands, while dealing with rival businessmen along with Melina Havelock (played by Carole Bouquet), who is seeking revenge for the murder of her parents.

Chaim Topol is Milos Columbo, with former U.S. figure skater Lynn-Holly Johnson in that role and Julian Glover as the top villain who aims to sell the missile system to the KGB.  Glover was one of the top choices to be the next Bond in the 1973 movie Live and Let Die before losing out to Moore.  Cassandra Harris, who at the time was married to future Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, played Lisl, Columbo's mistress.  Harris and Brosnan had lunch with Broccoli during the filming.  The cast also includes Michael Gothard, Jill Bennett, Jack Hedley, Walter Gotell, James Villiers, and Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, one of 14 Bond films Maxwell would star in.

Bill Conti wrote the score and co-wrote the title song with Michael Leeson.  Impressive newcomer Sheena Easton sang "For Your Eyes Only" to the opening credits.

Easton scored one of the biggest hits of the franchise with this worldwide smash, which rocketed to #1 in the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland and reaching #3 in Austria, #4 in the United States and France, #5 in Canada and Canada and #8 in the U.K.



"James Bond Theme"
by Monty Newman
from Dr. No

#8 is instantly recognizable to any Bond fan--it began the series and is featured in all of the other 25.  Terence Young set the tone by directing the debut film that starred Sean Connery as Bond with Ursula Andress his love interest.  Joseph Wiseman as one of the top villains in the series and Jack Lord (Bond's CIA contact Felix Leiter) added credibility the opener.

Dr. No, as the first Bond villain, sets the stage for all that follow, with an elaborate island fortress and robot hands.  He has procured loyal followers willing to die for his cause.  Dr. No is a great Bond enemy, played perfectly by Wiseman.

Connery was sent by MI6 to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another British agent.  He finds out about a plot by Dr. No to disrupt an American space launce with a radio beam weapon.

The "James Bond Theme" is heard in the gun barrel sequence and was written by Norman with arrangement from John Barry.  It peaked at #11 in the U.K.


by Adele
from Skyfall

Skyfall is the 23rd movie in the series and is largely credited for helping the franchise make a big comeback in 2012.  Daniel Craig made his third appearance as Bond with Judi Dench reprising her role as M.

Directed by Sam Mendes, Bond investigated a series of data leaks and coordinated attacks on MI6, led by the former MI6 operative turned terrorist Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem.

Unlike many of the Bond villains, Silva draws his inspiration from personal hatred and rage, not world domination.  Bardem gives a solid performance in making Silva one of the 21st century's top villains and one of the baddest in the Bond series.

The characters Moneypenny (played by Naomie Harris) and Q (played by Ben Whishaw) return after a two-film absence.  The film also stars Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes, Bérénice Marlohe, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace and Helen McCrory.

Skyfall premiered at the Royal Albert Hall on October 23 and debuted in the United States on November 9, the 50th anniversary of Dr. No in 1962.  The movie, which grossed $1 billion, was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two.

Thomas Newman replaced David Arnold as the ninth composer in the series.  Superstar Adele wrote and recorded the theme song with Paul Epworth.  "Skyfall" catapulted to #1 in 11 countries (including, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Ireland) and reached #2 in the U.K. and New Zelaland, #3 in Canada, #5 in Australia and #8 in the United States and with sales of 7 million copies, is one of the top-selling singles of all-time.  

It won an Oscar for Best Original Song, an honor which had eluded three previous Bond nominees, and also won the Golden Globe in the same category.  When "Skyfall won the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual media, it became the first Bond song to win all three awards.


"No Time To Die"
by Billie Eilish
from No Time To Die

The most recent Bond movie, one of the most emotional in the series, stars Daniel Craig in his fifth and final role as James Bond.  Cary Joji Fukunaga directed the film that also stars Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch (the new British agent given the number 007), Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Rory Kinnear and Ralph Fiennes.

Although Bond has left active duty with MI6, he is recruited by the CIA to find a kidnapped scientist and meets the powerful villain Lyutsifer Safin (played by Rami Malek) who possesses the technology capable of killing millions.  Fukanaga describes Safin as "the most powerful adversary Bond has ever faced".

Dan Romer was the composer of the film score but because of "creative differences", was replaced by Hans Zimmer.   At age 18, Eilish is the youngest recording artist ever to sing a Bond theme.  She delivered in a big way.  Eilish co-wrote the song with her brother, Finneas O'Connell.

"No Time To Die" debuted at #1 in the U.K. and Ireland, and reached #1 in Ireland and Scotland, #2 in Switzerland, #3 in Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway, #4 in Australia and Denmark, #5 in Germany and #9 in New Zealand. 

It became the third Bond theme in franchise history and also the third consecutive to win an Academy Award (after "Skyfall" in 2012 and "Writing's On The Wall" in 2015) and won the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.  "No Time To Die" has sold over two million copies worldwide.


"You Only Live Twice"
by Nancy Sinatra
from You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice from 1967 is another of the early Bond films among the best in the series.  Lewis Gilbert made his Bond directing debut; he would go on to also direct the 1997 movie The Spy Who Loved Me  and the 1979 film Moonraker.  Although loosely based on Ian Fleming's 1964 novel, it is the first Bond film to feature an entirely new plot, only using a few characters and locations from the book.

After American and Soviet spacecraft mysteriously disappear in orbit, with each nation blaming the other during the Cold War, Bond is sent to Japan, which is believed to be the site which the attacking spacecraft originated from.  

The movie reveals the appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played by Donald Pleasance), who was previously only seen from the neck down.  Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE, is working for an unnamed Asian power, believed to be China, which is trying to provoke war between the two superpowers.

Connery stars as Bond for a fifth time, with Tetsurō Tamba as Tiger Tanaka, Akkiko Wakabayashi as Aki, Mie Hama, Teru Shimada, Karin Dor and Charles Gray as a British contact living in Japan.  Gray later played Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever.

Barry composed his fourth soundtrack of the series and co-wrote the theme with lyricist Leslie Bricusse.  Nancy Sinatra recorded the theme after her father Frank passed.    Although she was reportedly nervous and needed 25 takes, Nancy's finished product is among the all-time best in the series.  It reached #3 on the Easy Listening chart and #11 overall in the U.S., #10 in Australia and #11 in the U.K.


"Live And Let Die"
by Paul McCartney & Wings
from Live And Let Die

"He always did have an inflated opinion of himself."

Sir Roger Moore issued this campy line after the villainous Dr. Kanaga was killed with a gas pellet that blew him up like a balloon.  Moore made his debut as Bond in this 1973 spy thriller directed by Guy Hamilton.  

Based on Ian Fleming's 1954 novel of the same name, the drug lord Mr. Big plots to distribute two tons of heroin for free to put rival drug barons out of business.  Mr. Big (played by Yaphet Kotto)  is the alter ego of Dr. Kananga, a corrupt Caribbean dictator of the fictitious island San Monique, where opium poppies are secretly farmed.  Bond must investigate the deaths of three British agents which leads him to Kananga.

Jane Seymour plays Solitaire, Kananga's psychic.  The cast also includes Sheriff J.W. Pepper, Clifton James, Julius Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison as Felix Leiter, Gloria Hendry, Tommy Lane, Earl Jolly Brown, Roy Stewart as Quarrel Jr., son of Quarrel from Dr. No, and Lon Satton as CIA agent Harry Strutter.

As John Barry was unavailable due to another commitment, Broccoli and Saltzman asked Paul McCartney to write the theme song.  This reunited McCartney with Beatles producer George Martin, who was chosen to score the film.  "Live And Let Die" became one of the most successful Bond themes in history, reaching #2 for three weeks in the U.S. and #9 in the U.K.  It was nominated for an Academy Award but had the misfortune of being released in the same year as "The Way We Were", which took the honor.


"Diamonds Are Forever"
by Shirley Bassey
from Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds are Forever from 1971 is the seventh in the series and, after a one-movie break, Sean Connery, who earned $1.25 million for the role, returns as James Bond.  This would, however, be Connery's last appearance as James Bond until 1983.  The movie, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound, is based on Ian Fleming's book of the same name and is the second of four Bond films directed by Guy Hamilton.  

In this thriller, Bond needs to impersonate a diamond smuggler in order to infiltrate a crime ring and soon discovers a plot by arch-enemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld to use the diamonds to build a space-based laser weapon that will destroy Washington, D.C.  

Joining Bond in the story are diamond smuggler Jill St. John (as Tiffany Case), Charles Gray as Blofeld, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Cabot, Bruce Glover, Putter Smith, Norman Burotn as Felix Leiter, Joseph Furst and Leonard Barr.  Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell reprise their roles as M, Q, and Moneypenny, respectively.

John Barry composed the soundtrack for a sixth time with Bond fans thrilled with the return of Shirley Bassey to perform her second Bond theme song.  Bassey only reached #57 with the song, one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.



"Nobody Does It Better"
by Carly Simon
from The Spy Who Loved Me

Another of the highly rated Bond films comes from 1977, The Spy Who Loved Me, with Moore back as Bond for a third time.  Lewis Gilbert directed the movie which takes its name from Ian Fleming's 1962 novel while not using any of its plot.  

Reclusive villain Karl Stromberg (played by Curt Jürgens) has a plan to destroy the world and create a new civilization underwater.  Bond teams up with Soviet agent Anya Amasova (played by Barbara Bach of Mission:  Impossible fame) to stop the sceme, dodging Stromberg's giant henchman, Jaws (played by Richard Kiel). 

Caroline Munro, Geoffey Keen (the first of six Bond films as Sir Frederick Gray), Edward de Souza, George Baker and Walter Gotell as General Gogol, also the first of six Bond movies he would appear in, round out the cast.

Producers Saltzman and Broccoli called on Marvin Hamlisch to score the movie.   The Spy Who Loved Me was nominated for three Academy Awards--Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Original Score and Best Original Song, sung by Carly Simon.

Carly's "Nobody Does It Better", written by Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, was the first Bond theme to have a different title than the movie.  Cleverly, Bayer Sager included the film's title in the lyrics.  

"Nobody Does It Better" was a monster hit, reaching #2 for three weeks in the United States, kept out of the top spot only by Debby Boone's classic "You Light Up My Life".  Simon achieved one of The Top Easy Listening Songs of the Rock Era*, however, with a seven-week stay at #1 on that chart.  

"Nobody Does It Better" also landed at #1 in Ireland, #2 in Canada,#5 in France and Norway, #7 in the U.K., #8 in Australia, thus becoming one of the biggest international hits to that time.

Simon earned a Gold record for the song and was also nominated for Song of the Year and Best Female Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards and Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards.  In 2004, the American Film Institute honored "Nobody Does It Better" as #67 in their salute to the best movie music of the last 100 years.


by Shirley Bassey
from Goldfinger

Goldfinger from 1964 is the third movie in the series and generally regarded as the best in the franchise.  It is the first of four Bond films directed by Guy Hamilton.  There's several "bests" in the film, including topping our ranking of Bond themes.  Goldfinger was the first in the series to win an Oscar (for Best Sound Editing) and recouped its budget in two weeks.  It is the only one in the series to include two of The Top 10 Bond Villains in Goldfinger and the quirky OddJob.  

Goldfinger (played by Gert Fröbe) is a bad human being, rich enough to be able to put in motion his sick plans.  There isn't anything one needs to read between the lines about Goldfinger; his greed, ego, and utter disregard for human life are on full display.  His famous line "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" is one of the best quotes from any movie.

Oddjob is a menacing physical specimen, played superbly by Harold Sakata.  Sakata is a former American Olympic silver medalist weightlifter and professional wrestler.  It is not only Oddjob's toughness, but his smug smiles of satisfaction, the way he is impeccably dressed and his fierce loyalty that makes him special in Bond lore.  The lethal Oddjob can flick his bowler hat lined with a razor to decapitate a victim in seconds.  And Sakata creates this legendary villain without uttering a word.  Although he was badly burned in his death scene, Sakata steadfastly held on to his hat until the director yelled "Cut!".

The movie also happens to be included among the best presentations of opening credits in cinema history.

Sean Connery once again shines as MI6 agent James Bond, who uncovers Goldfinger's plans to contaminate Fort Knox from his initial investigation of gold smuggling.  The penchant for Bond gadgets and use of technology in later films all owe a debt to Connery in Goldfinger, for this is the Bond film in which they first appear.  

Honor Blackman is one of the best of the Bond girls, starring as Pussy Galore and leader of Pussy Galore's Flying Circus, an all-female team of pilots.  The cast also includes Shirley Easton, Tania Mallet, Martin Benson, Cec Linder as Felix Leiter, Bernard Lee as M and Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny.

John Barry's movie score is also superb, matching the themes of gold and metal with the heavy use of brass and metallic chimes.  Barry teamed with lyricists Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse to write "Goldfinger", with a tour de force vocal performance by Shirley Bassey.  The track features a young Jimmy Page on guitar.

"Goldfinger was featured in both the memorable open as well as over the closing credits.  Bassey reached #1 in Japan, #4 in Australia, #5 in the Netherlands, #7 in Austria, #8 on the Popular chart and #2 for four weeks on the Easy Listening chart in the United States and #8 in Germany and earned a Gold record for one million copies sold.  Although it stalled at #21 in the U.K. at the time, a 2002 BBC poll of listeners ranked the song at #46 by a British act for the last 50 years.

"Goldfinger" ranked #53 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs countdown of the top songs in cinema history.  In 2008, the single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The "Goldfinger" Soundtrack stands alone among Bond films as the only one to chart at #1 on the Billboard Album chart, far more successful than any other Bond soundtrack.  

Saturday, July 29, 2023

All The James Bond Themes Ranked (Part Two)


Thanks for joining us on Inside The Rock Era for our salute to the great James Bond Themes.  Buckle up and enjoy Part Two!

"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
by John Barry
From On Her Majesty's Secret Service

The 1969 contribution to the Bond series was based on Fleming's 1963 novel.  After Connery decided to retire after You Only Live Twice, George Lazenby landed the role.  Diana Rigg starred as Countess Tracy di Veicenzo, Bond's love interest with Telly Savalas playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE.  Lois Maxwell and Bernard Lee reprised the role of Miss Moneypenny and M, respectively, joined by Gabriele Ferzetti, Ilse Steppat and George Baker.

Barry was at his best in this soundtrack featuring the driving title theme.  It was part of Barry's fifth score for the franchise and one of only two instrumentals to be featured in the opening credits.  "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was one of the first in cinema to feature the Moog synthesizer.

"We Have All The Time In The World"
by Louis Armstrong
From On Her Majesty's Secret Service

In the sixth film of the series, Blofeld, played by Telly Savalas, is planning to make infertile all food plants and livestock by the brainwashed "angels of death", who are 12 beautiful women from around the world.  Bond (played by George Lazenby) meets and falls in love with Contessa Teresa di Vencenzo (known as Tracy), whom he eventually marries.  But James's happiness is wiped out in an instant. 

One of only two Bond films to contain two songs to make this list (Dr. No is the other), On Her Majesty's Secret Service also features "All The Time In The World" by Louis Armstrong.  Barry chose Louis because he could "deliver the title song with irony", according to an audio commentary available from the DVD.

Barry wrote the song with lyrics from Hal David.  It is played during the courtship of Bond and Tracy.   Armstrong was very sick at the time but was able to record the song in one take.  However, he couldn't play the trumpet, believed to have been played by Herb Alpert, a close associate of David.

"All The Time In The World" was re-released in 1994 and reached #3 in the U.K.  It was used for the second time for the closing credits of the 2021 film No Time to Die.

by Shirley Bassey
From Moonraker

In the action-packed 1979 movie Moonraker, Roger Moore as Bond investigates the mid-air theft of a space shuttle.  It is the third and final film to be directed by Lewis Gilbert.  The movie is also notable for being the final appearance of Bernard Lee as M; Lee died of stomach cancer before he could complete filming of the 1980 movie For Your Eyes Only.

Lois Chiles stars as Holly Goodhead, an astronaut scientist on "loan from NASA", later revealed to be a CIA agent.  Michael Lonsdale is the main villain Hugo Drax, with 7' 2" Richard Kiel, possessing a mouth filled with steel teeth, returning as Jaws.  Kiel also appeared in the great movie Silver Streak three years previous.  The cast also includes Corinne Cléry, Geoffrey Keen, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, Desmond Llewelyn and Toshiro Suga as Chang.

"Moonraker" is Shirley Bassey's third contribution to the franchise (after "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever").  Johnny Mathis originally began recording but was unable to finish, leaving Broccoli to offer the song to Bassey just weeks before the premiere in England.  The ballad version appears in the opening credits with a disco version following at the end of the film.

"A View To A Kill"
by Duran Duran
From A View To A Kill

The 1985 movie A View To A Kill is the 14th in the Bond series and is the seventh and final one to feature Roger Moore.  Christopher Walken is fantastic as Max Zorin, a psychopath who wants to destroy Silicon Valley to control the market on microchips.  A View To A Kill also stars Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip as CIA agent Chuck Lee, Robert Brown as M, Dolph Lundgren and Desmond Llewelyn.

John Barry once again composed the score for the soundtrack and co-wrote "A View To A Kill" with Duran Duran.  The song reached #1 in the United States and was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Original Song.

"Writing's On The Wall"
by Sam Smith
From Spectre

Spectre became the 24th Bond film released in 2015. We find Bond in Mexico City, where he stops a bombing attempt during a Day of the Dead festival. When Bond obtains a ring stylized with an octopus from the attacker, he uncovers his connection to a secret organization, Spectre.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz, is the mastermind behind Spectre and the arch-nemesis of Bond. Judi Dench appeared in her eighth Bond movie as M, marking 20 years since her debut as the character in GoldenEyeSpectre also includes Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Dave Bautista as assassin Mr. Hinx, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen and Monica Bellucci.

Sam Smith earned the nod to sing "Writing's On The Wall" for the opening credits, and it became the first Bond theme to reach #1 in the U.K., also peaking at #1 in Scotland, #2 in Greece, #3 in Finland and #9 in Ireland.  The song also swept the Academy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture.

"Licence To Kill"
by Gladys Knight
From Licence To Kill

Licence To Kill, from 1989, is the second and final film to star Timothy Dalton and the 16th overall.  It also is the fifth and final Bond movie directed by John Glen, the last with Robert Brown as M and Caroline Bliss as Miss Moneypenny.

Bond gets suspended from MI6 as he chases drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), who ordered an attack against Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter.  Rather than stop his aim for revenge, Bond resigns, although Moneypenny retypes the letter as a request for leave.

Licence To Kill also stars as DEA informant Pam Bouvier, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe and Everett McGill and includes American decathlete Rafer Johnson and Anthony Starke, best known for speaking in the third person as Jimmy in the Seinfeld episode "The Jimmy".

The theme song, sung by Gladys Knight, was written by Narada Michael Walden, Jeffrey Cohen and Walter Afanasieff, the latter who had written several of Mariah Carey's biggest hits.  "Licence To Kill" shot up to #1 in Sweden, #2 in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark, #3 in West Germany, #4 in Ireland and #6 in the U.K.

"Tomorrow Never Dies"
by Sheryl Crow
From Tomorrow Never Dies

Tomorrow Never Dies from 1997 is the 18th Bond film and the second to star Pierce Brosnan.  It is the only Brosnan movie in the series that did not open at #1 at the box office, finishing #2 to Titanic.  It is the first Bond movie after original producer Albert Broccoli died.  His daughter Barbara and half-brother Michael G. Wilson produced the movie.
In this thriller, Bond tries to keep power-hungry Elliot Carver, played by Jonathan Pryce, from initiating world events that would trigger World War III.

Colin Salmon is Charles Robinson, one of three times Salmon performed in the role.  The cast also includes Teri Hatcher, Michelle Yeoh, Götz Otto, Ricky Jay, Samantha Bond playing Miss Moneypenny, Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade, Bond's ally in the CIA,  along with other Bond mainstays Judi Dench as M and Desmond Llewelyn, who appeared in 17 Bond films as Q.

Moneypenny, the one constant woman in Bonds' life who has seen him through hundreds of women and missions, phoned him to request that he return to headquarters ASAP.  Bond replied that he'll be in soon, that he was just "brushing up on his Danish".  Moneypenny of course knew Bond, prompting her to say the great line, "You always were a cunning linguist, James."

Barry was in talks to return for the first time in a decade but when negotiations fell through, Barbara Broccoli chose David Arnold to score the movie.

Arnold originally set out to write the theme with lyricist Don Black, to be recorded by David McAlmont.  When MGM demanded a popular artist sing the theme, however, various singers were invited to write songs and Crow was selected from amongst the competition.

"Tomorrow Never Dies" was nominated for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture at both the Grammys and the Golden Globes.  It reached #3 in Greece, #5 in Finland and #12 in the U.K.

"You Know My Name"
by Chris Cornell
From Casino Royale

Casino Royale (2006), the 21st edition in the Bonds canon, is generally regarded as the best film since the early years.  Daniel Craig made his debut as Bond, out to arrest a bomb maker in Madagascar before he learns of terrorist financier Le Chiffre and must bankrupt Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro.

Craig delivered one of the top quotes in the Bond series after knocking off an enemy but recovering himself--"That last hand nearly killed me."

Jeffrey Wright plays CIA ally Felix Leiter.  The cast also includes Giancarlo Giannini, Jesper Christensen, Judi Dench as M, Tobias Menzies, Isaach de Bankolé, Simon Abkarian, Ivana Miličević, Caterina Murino, Claudio Santamaria and Sébastien Foucan.

David Arnold composed his fourth soundtrack while Nicholas Dodd orchestrated and conducted the score.  Chris Cornell of Soundgarden recorded the theme song for the opening credits, with the main notes reoccurring throughout the film.  Cornell wrote lyrics that conveyed the emotional turn Craig brought to the franchise, and it hit #3 in Finland, #4 in Italy, #5 in Norway and #7 in the U.K.

"The World Is Not Enough"
by Garbage
From The World Is Not Enough

Pierce Brosnan starred as Bond in 1999 for the third time in The World Is Not Enough.  The KGB terrorist Renard kills billionaire Sir Robert King and Bond is subsequently assigned to protect King's daughter Elektra, played by Sophie Marceau.

The movie also stars Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards as Bond girl Dr. Christmas Jones, Maria Grazia Cucinotta as the veteran assassin working for Renard known as "Cigar Girl", Robbie Coltrane and Desmond Llewelyn as Q.  John Cleese appears as Q's assistant.  Bond says to him, "If he's Q, does that make you R?"

David Arnold composed the soundtrack, his second for the franchise and co-wrote the title song with Don Black, his fifth theme, preceded by "Thunderball", "Diamonds Are Forever", "The Man With The Golden Gun" and "Tomorrow Never Dies".  Garbage performed "The World Is Not Enough" in the movie's opening credits.

The song peaked at #2 in the Netherlands and #7 in Norway and Finland and #11 in the U.K.

"From Russia With Love"
by Matt Monro
from the movie From Russia With Love

The second James Bond movie From Russia With Love is one of the top movies in the franchise's history, and generally regarded as the movie which firmly established Sean Connery in the iconic role.  Terence Young directed it, with production once again by Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  The movie is based on Ian Fleming's 1957 novel of the same name.

Bond is sent to help Soviet clerk Tatiana Romanova defect in Turkey, but SPECTRE plans to avenge Bond's killing of Dr. No in Jamaica the first movie there as well.

But SPECTRE assassin "Red" Grant is always present, looking for his moment to dispose of Bond.  Robert Shaw delivered an outstanding performance to match that of Connery, earning accolades from Esquire as The #1 Villain of the Bond Franchise.  Pedro Armendáriz stars as Ali Kerim Bey, head of MI6 Station T in Istanbul and Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb, another of the top villains in the Bond series, as well as Bernard Lee as M, Daniela Bianchi and Eunice Gayson. 

 Klebb, despite being Number Three, really calls all the shots, placing both friend and foe exactly where she wants them to be.  

From Russia with Love is the movie which brought in John Barry as the primary composer.  Lionel Bart wrote the theme song, recorded by crooner Matt Monro and featured at the end of the movie.

The ten best themes are coming up in Part Three!

Friday, July 28, 2023

All The James Bond Themes Ranked (Part One)!

Whether you've watched one James Bond film or all 26, most can generally reach agreement that the franchise has a reputation for theme songs that are famous and among the best movie themes of all-time.  Join us for our three-part series as we enjoy all of the theme songs (some movies had more than one) that have made up a big part of our lives!

Note:  We ranked these songs differently than in most of our specials.  Rather than go purely by the quality of the song and its audio appeal, we judged the songs based on how well they fit the James Bond character, the movie in which they are featured in, and how they fit into the opening credits and video where they are used in that way.  


"Under The Mango Tree"
From Dr. No

Dr. No was the one that started it all off in 1962, with Sean Connery establishing the great James Bond character right off the bat.  The movie also stars Ursula Andress, Jack Lord as CIA operative Felix Leiter and Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No.  Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman co-produced the movie; it was a partnership that continued through 1975.

The song appears fairly early in the movie, as Bond wakes up to spot a bikini-clad Andress (as Honey Rider) coming out of the water with some seashells.  "Are you looking for shells?" she asks.  "No, I'm just looking."

The song appears for a second time sung by Diana Coupland, composer Monty Norman's wife and a veteran British stage and screen star, on the LP Bond plays in Miss Taro's home.  


"Never Say Never Again"
by Lani Hall
From Never Say Never Again

Never Say Never Again (from 1987) is a remake of the 1965 Bond movie Thunderball, and reportedly is based on a comment from Sean Connery that he would "never again" play James Bond.  The movie also stars Max von Sydow, Klaus Maria Branauer, Kim Basinger, Barbara Carrera and Bernie Casey, former running back with the Los Angeles Rams, who plays Felix Leiter, Bond's CIA contact and friend.

Lani Hall, the lead singer of Sergio Mendes from 1966-71, had the honor of singing the title song which also was featured in the opening credits in the movie.


"The Living Daylights"
by A-ha
From The Living Daylights

This next theme comes from the 15th movie in the series from 1987, starring Timothy Dalton, who plays a serious James Bond in his first and only foray as the character, as well as Maryam d'Abo, Joe Don Baker and Art Malik.

A-ha, the British techno group of the '80's, performed the theme in the opening credits.  This is the last song of 11 that John Barry wrote for the series.  "The Living Daylights" reached #1 in A-ha's native Norway, #2 in Ireland, #3 in Sweden, Denmark and Finland and #5 in the U.K.

"Die Another Day"
by Madonna
From Die Another Day

The 2002 installment in the series was the fourth and final appearance from Pierce Brosnan as our hero and the last with Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny.  Die Another Day also featured Halle Berry as an NSA agent, Judi Dench as M, John Cleese, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike and Rick Yune.

21 of the 26 theme songs share the same title as the movie, including this one at #26 from Madonna, who also appeared in the movie.

"Die Another Day" reached #2 in Denmark, #3 in the U.K., #4 in Sweden, Switzerland and Scotland, #5 in Australia and #8 in the United States.  It was nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards and received Grammy nominations for Best Dance Recording and Best Short Form Music Video.

"The Man With The Golden Gun"
by Lulu
From The Man With The Golden Gun

The Man With the Golden Gun from 1974, the ninth in the series, is the second to feature Roger Moore as the new Bond with Britt Ekland cast as Bond's assistant.  Christopher Lee drew great reviews as Francisco Scaramanga, the assassin with the golden gun and one of the top villains in the series.  Scaramange wields a gun made out of solid gold and can accomplish his mission with a single shot.  
Hervé Villechaize (later featured on the television series Fantasy Island), played Scaramanga's sidekick.  
The movie was the last to be produced by Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, as Saltzman sold his 50% share after the film was released. Lulu, who gave us the all-time classic "To Sir With Love", sang the theme composed by Barry in the opening credits.

"Another Way To Die"
by Alicia Keys and Jack White
From Quantum of Solace

The 2008 film Quantum of Solace was the sequel to 2006's Casino Royale and unlike its romantic predecessor, Quantum of Solace, was about revenge.  Daniel Craig returned as Bond with Olga Kurylenko as Bolivian agent Camille Montes.  Mathieu Amalric plays Dominic Greene, the villain and a leader of the crime organization Quantum.  Judi Dench returned in a larger role as M.

Jack White wrote the theme song and played guitar and drums; he and Keys recorded the video while Alicia was at the Toronto International Film Festival promoting her movie The Secret Life of Bees.  That video was nominated for Best Short Form Music Video at the Grammy Awards.  "Another Way To Die" hit #1 in Finland and reached the Top Five in Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Scotland.

by Tom Jones
From Thunderball

The third and final film to be directed by Terence Young, Thunderball once again featured Sean Connery, who must find NATO atomic bombs stolen by SPECTRE.  Producers Broccoli and Saltzman originally planned the movie as the first in the series, but relented when author Ian Fleming was sued in 1961 by collaborators Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham, claiming Fleming based the novel on a screenplay the trio had written for a cinematic translation of Bond.

Along with daring and dangerous action sequences, exotic locales, seductive women, great theme songs and classy cars, Bond movies had a penchant for delivering witty remarks.  In this film, Connery quickly took care of an adversary with a shot from his harpoon gun before dropping the line, "I think he got the point."

Adolpho Celi stars as SPRECTRE's number two man Emilio Largo with Claudine Auger as his mistress Domino.  Julie Christie, Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway were all considered for the role before Auger got the part.

But it is SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe (played by Luciana Paluzzi) that steals the show.  Volpe is one of the top villains of the franchise as do-it-all enforcer.  She can seduce a pilot to ensure the success of a plan and use a missile-launching motorcycle to murder a former associate.  She is able to expose Bond's frailty, getting him into bed, setting a trap and then badly wounding him.  Our hero is nearly finished on her watch.     

Rick Van Nutter plays Felix Leiter with Guy Doleman, Molly Peters, Martine Beswick,  Roland Carver, Earl Cameron, Paul Stassino, Rose Alba, Philip Locke, George Pravda and Michael Brennan also starring.  Bernard Lee plays M, the head of MI6, with Desmon Llewelyn as Q and once again Lois Maxwell is Moneypenny.

Tom Jones, the male counterpart to the booming vocals of Shirley Bassey in the previous Bond movie Goldfinger, delivered the theme song featured in the opening credits.  Jones is said to have fainted in the recording booth when singing the final note.  Jones told NPR, "I closed my eyes and I held the note for so long when I opened my eyes the room was spinning."

"All Time High"
by Rita Coolidge
From Octopussy

Octopussy in 1983 was the 13th Bond film and the sixth to feature Roger Moore as 007.  Broccoli produced the movie along with Michael G. Wilson.  Maud Adams returned to the franchise as jewel smuggler Octopussy.  Louis Jordan played exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan, joined by Kristina Wayborn, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, tennis star Vijay Amitraj and Robert Brown as M.

Octopussy also features another great Bond line.  When Khan quips to Bond that he has a "bad habit of surviving", Bond replies back, "Well you know what they say about the fittest."

Written by Barry and Tim Rice, "All Time High" was co-produced by Phil Ramone.  Coolidge enjoyed a #1 smash of four weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #7 in Switzerland and #8 in both Sweden and the Netherlands.

Join us for Part Two of the great Bond themes tomorrow, exclusively on Inside The Rock Era!