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John Barry, RIP

I had hoped to end James Bond January as a celebration of one of the most iconic film franchises ever produced. It as a fantastically organised event – thanks to the legend that is Paul Thain over at Paragraph Film Reviews. Through the month, we had some surprising good news. Despite the shadow that loomed over MGM, the next Bond film (Bond 23, as it is known) would enter production. It would be released for the film’s fiftieth anniversary, would see Daniel Craig return and would be directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes. That was good news, and it really contributed to the atmosphere of the month.

1933-2011

Unfortunately, as the month came to a close, there was bad news. It’s tragic to end the month with the passing of John Barry. Barry had a tremendous career that others can do far more justice to than I would dare attempt. A legendary composer, his work is instantly recognisable – even if you don’t know you’re listening to it. It’s rare for a composer to exude pure and refined class and sophistication, while still remaining truly accessible. Barry did that. He won an Oscar for his work on Born Free, a soundtrack that I can sing along with even though I have never seen the film. I imagine there are more than a few readers who can say the same thing.

There are those who will sum up his career more eloquently than this truncated blog post, but he was a master. He worked on twelve of the Bond films, however his work was so iconic that the only major departure from his style occurred with GoldenEye (and this was promptly corrected for Tomorrow Never Dies). Perhaps his most iconic Bond theme is for Goldfinger. There’s a video below embedded of Barry conducting an instrumental rendition.

However, my own personal favourite John Barry theme comes from You Only Live Twice:

And I have a soft spot for Diamonds Are Forever, where he famously coaxed Shirley Bassey to give it lots and then some.

Rest in peace.

Non-Review Review: Diamonds Are Forever

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

When George Lazenby refused to come back to do a follow-up to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the producers were left with a bit of a problem. Three actors playing Bond in three films would perhaps be a little bit too much for audiences to grapple with, so an emergency appeal was made to Sean Connery to return to the role which made him iconic. Charging a then-astronomical fee, which he donated entirely to charity, Connery donned the tuxedo once again. Reteaming with Guy Hamilton, the man who directed Goldfinger, once would assume that we were pretty much assured a winner – a return to the good old days. What we got was something of a flash-forward. If I didn’t know better, I would suspect that somebody had pulled a “George Lucas” on us, using wondrous new technology to digitally superimpose Sean Connery into a Roger Moore film.

Adam West was considered to play James Bond in this film. I think that tells us everything we need to know.

Sean Connery's Bond was never afraid of wetwork...

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