Friday, March 13, 2015
Goldfinger (1964) | Music
For Goldfinger's title sequence, designer Robert Brownjohn went back to the same well he'd pulled from in From Russia With Love. He got more creative though and instead of just projecting the credits over a woman's body, he projected images from the film with the credits running alongside. That makes the credits easier to read, but also gave Brownjohn more to play with in terms of the images. Drawing inspiration from what happens to Jill Masterson in the movie, Brownjohn painted model Margaret Nolan (who also plays Dink) gold and made fun choices about what images he projected where. At one point he superimposes Oddjob's face over hers, for example. Later, he has the Aston Martin's license plate replace her mouth. It was the most fun and creative sequence so far and it ties in well with the theme of the movie, even if it does feel a bit easy and on-the-nose to just use shots right out of the film.
For the title song, composer John Barry finally had complete control. He'd created the Bond Theme in Dr. No, written the entire score in From Russia With Love, but with Goldfinger he also got to write the music for the theme song. The lyrics were by the popular songwriting team of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse (who would go on to also write the lyrics for the theme to You Only Live Twice and the songs for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). Newley and Bricusse teased Barry about the melody for "Goldfinger" and its similarity to Henry Mancini's "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's. They're not wrong about the opening bars, but for the most part it's a decent, versatile melody. It's a bit light and airy for my taste though, even with the heavy brass in the recording.
Maybe because of Barry's involvement with the "Goldfinger" song, the Bond Theme gets a lot less play in Goldfinger than it had in the first two movies. We hear it during the teaser when Bond's infiltrating the heroin refinery, then again when he introduces himself to Jill Masterson, but the third time isn't until Felix is tailing Oddjob and Solo. And even then, the Bond Theme quickly morphs into the Goldfinger Theme. There's something meta going on there, with the hero's giving way to his much more interesting villain. As cool and suave as Bond still is, he's also becoming more goofy in this one and the real star of the show is the title character. Like I said earlier in the week, I'm cool with that in this movie, but it's too bad that it inspired so many of the later, less inventive films.
To sing the title song, Barry hired pop singer Shirley Bassey. He'd conducted her orchestra when she'd toured the year before and they were apparently a couple as well. Nepotism aside though, she's got a fantastic voice and makes the song work in spite of its simple, and (frankly) silly lyrics.
Top Ten Theme Songs
1. From Russia With Love (John Barry instrumental version)
2. Dr No
4. From Russia With Love (Matt Monro vocal version)
Top Ten Title Sequences
1. Dr No
3. From Russia With Love