A good ninety percent of my time spent in the kitchen is accompanied by the music from five time Oscar winner, John Barry. In fact, as I type these words, the music from the Fort Knox raid scene in Goldfinger is pumping through my living room.
Barry’s first two Oscar wins were for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, both from the 1966 film, Born Free. That was followed by three more wins for Best Score with The Lion in Winter (1968), Out of Africa (1985) and Dances with Wolves (1990). Additionally, Barry provided the score for nearly a hundred other films, including Midnight Cowboy, Somewhere in Time, Body Heat, The Cotton Club, Peggy Sue Got Married and Chaplin.
Most importantly (to me anyway), Barry scored eleven of the James Bond films and defined the musical style that still dominates the 007 series to this day. Although Barry is not credited with wrtiting the “James Bond Theme” itself, he claims that it was he, in fact, who penned it when the producers found the original arrangement by Monty Norman unsatisfactory. And while Norman has won multiple libel suits over the years upholding his claim on the theme, no composer is more closely associated with the Bond film series than John Barry.
Barry’s first full Bond score was for 1962’s From Russia with Love, the second in the series. That was followed directly by Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever. In the seventies, Barry took charge of The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker, followed in the eighties by Octopussy, A View to a Kill, and his final Bond outing, The Living Daylights.
There is no 007 score from John Barry that disappoints. From the brassy boldness of the early Connery films to the more romantic and lush scores for the Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton eras, they all deliver as moving pieces of music that stand on their own. Check out From Russia with Love below, one of my favorite Barry compositions, with additional organ accompaniment by Alan Haven, and along with Goldfinger, the quintessential title sequence for a Bond film.