Ranking The James Bond Songs #18 -16

18. The Living Daylights (from The Living Daylights) – A Ha
ahaWe’re getting into the better songs now. I tend to sway back and forth on this one a lot – it has plenty of unique and unusual moments that I enjoy, but I can’t truly rank it much higher than this. Terrific intro, amusing vocals which veer between terrible, brilliant, and silly. The verses aren’t great, but the pre-chorus and chorus are very good and catchy as hell. It has a ridiculous, sexy saxophone intrusion, and sounds both nothing like a Bond song, and exactly like a Bond song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXM4eIoPZUU

17. Under The Mango Tree (from Dr No) – Diana Copeland

Monty Norman’s missus provides this neat little ditty. It’s not much of a song, but it fits the Jamaican, Calypso feel of the original film. It will burn itself into your brain though, and if you ever find yourself sipping a cocktail on a beach, you’ll find yourself humming this one. It’s hard finding an actual copy of this on youtube, so here is a clip of Ursula emerging from the water in her bikini, singing the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViKzO5C7gwk

16. License To Kill (from License To Kill) – Gladys Knight

Gladys+Knight++The+Pips+Licence+To+Kill+538174

This one begins brilliantly too, with a sultry swell followed up y some fine vocals. I’ve never understood the lack of appreciation this one gets – it’s not the slow burning ballad that the most famous themes are, but that’s a good thing – this is a massive step up in quality from Adele’s effort. It is overlong, but the main hook and chorus are quintessential Bond, and will get caught in your head for hours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw8_LTu07Jo

What do you think of this trio? Let us know in the comments!

Best Stunt Work: 1962

My Nominations: This year arguably saw the first of what could be classed as ‘the modern action movie’ with Agent 007 embarking on his premier mission. With this new approach to genre-filmaking, focus on action set-pieces and stunt work became heavier as directors became more ambitious and pushed for bigger, badder, better hooks for their movies. As it was the first, Hollywood still relied on the tried and tested ways of the past, with epic battles, haymakers, and horse heroics, but Dr.No clearly symbolized a change to both a tighter, more taut and yet more bombastic, extravagant approach.

The 300 Spartans: Unfortunately I have no idea who was involved in the stunt work in the film, so my credit goes to director Rudolph Mate, and military advisor Major Cleanthis Damianos for helping to shape some original, sweeping battle scenes.

Cape Fear: Although most of the violence in the film is unseen and suggested, there are still some potent scenes and impressive work, much of which was performed by the acting roster.

Dr No: From the now requisite pre-title sequence, to the car chases, from the many fist fights to the dragon attack and final Island battle/escape, Dr No is packed with action and premium stunt work. As expected, we have many (shockingly uncredited) stunt performers who were well on their way to become legends in the field – Peter Brace (Batman, Willow, Prince of Thieves, Raiders Of The Lost Ark), Gerry Crampton (Daylight, The Dirty Dozen), and of course Bob Simmons (future Bond films) to name a few.

The Longest Day: A film of this magnitude and with this subject matter will always rely on dedicated stunt professionals, and here they pull off some stunning work. The likes of Joe and Nosher Powell (future Bond movies), Ken Buckle (First Knight, Cleopatra) and Ian Yule (Ben-Hur, The Wild Geese) should be commended here.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: A film not renowned for its stunt work, this nevertheless has many great moments thanks to the likes of married stunt performers Louise and Montie Montana, Chuck Hayward who double for Wayne and most of the biggest Western stars of the era , and Hal Needham, arguably the most famous stuntman of them all.

Sanjuro: Not to be outdone by the West, Japanese master Kurosawa creates yet another rip-roaring Samurai piece, complete with expected, and unexpected swordplay moments. Whilst not as visually memorable as Yojimbo or Seven Samurai, the sword fighting is second to none, thanks to Ryu Kuze.

My Winner: Dr. No

As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments and have a go at the poll!

Best Original Song -1962

Actual Nominations:

Days Of Wine And Roses – This starts off promisingly but quickly descends into the dreary sort of violin strewn noise that made you run from the TV when you were younger. For such a striking and important film, the song sounds like it is a couple of decades out of date, yet the slow, winding tone does fit with the boozed up nature of the story.

Mutiny On The Bounty Follow Me: This on the other hand does not sound dated at all, possibly given the use of the Tahitian choir. It is, however, very repetitive and could really have been 40 seconds long.

Two For The SeesawSecond Chance: A bar hopping number belted out by a weary, smoke ridden mistress to the lonely midnight patrons of the cities most dank dive. Unfortunately the song doesn’t really go anywhere and the melodies aren’t remembered a few minutes later.

Tender Is The Night –  An eerie into set to piano gives away to pleasant lyrics and decent melodies. If it wasn’t sung by Tony Bennett it might be worth recalling more often (I’m not a fan of any of those old school male swing singers).

Walk On The Wild Side – A good song for stripping too, if the mood takes you, but it sounds even more like it should be used for a game show with SUPER PRIZES! A nice big sound but once again, there is nothing special here.

My Winner: Tender Is The Night

My Nominations: Dr. No: Underneath The Mango Tree. Tender Is The Night.

My Winner: Dr No

Any excuse to show this pic really

 

Best Art Direction- 1962

Actual Nominations: Once again we have separate awards for colour and black and white, but I’ll stick them together for my own awards

BW: To Kill a Mockingbird – Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen and Henry Bumstead; Set Decoration: Oliver Emert.       Period of Adjustment – Art Direction: George Davis and Edward Carfagno; Set Decoration: Henry Grace and Dick Pefferle.    The Longest Day – Art Direction: Ted Haworth, Leon Barsacq and Vincent Korda; Set Decoration: Gabriel Bechir.    The Pigeon That Took Rome – Art Direction: Hal Pereira and Roland Anderson; Set Decoration: Sam Comer and Frank R. McKelvy.       Days of Wine and Roses – Art Direction: Joseph C. Wright; Set Decoration: George James Hopkins

Actual Winner: To Kill A Mockingbird

My Winner:  The Longest Day.

Colour: Lawrence of Arabia – Art Direction: John Box and John Stoll; Set Decoration: Dario Simoni.            The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm – Art Direction: George Davis and Edward Carfagno; Set Decoration: Henry Grace and Dick Pefferle.               That Touch of Mink – Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen and Robert Clatworthy; Set Decoration: George Milo.       The Music Man – Art Direction: Paul Groesse; Set Decoration: George James Hopkins.         Mutiny on the Bounty – Art Direction and Set Decoration: Hugh Hunt

Actual Winner: Lawrence Of Arabia

My Winner:  The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm

My Nominations: Dr. No. Lawrence Of Arabia. Brothers Grimm. The Longest Day. Mutiny On The Bouny.

Bond films are known for their elaborate sets as well as luxurious locations and costumes which bring the world of high class espionage as globe trotting evil to life. Syd Cain, Freda Pearson, and of course, Ken Adam are largely responsible for the look of Bond films to come, setting the tone in the original and they deserve much credit.

My Winner: Dr. No.

Best Picture – 1962

Official Nominations: 1962 was, above all, a year of epics, with Lawrence Of Arabia, The Longest Day, and The Mutiny On The Bounty all providing big budget thrills. It was also the year of MAN with the major nominees featuring near all male casts. Indeed, LOA is the only Best Picture Winner to have credited roles for only one sex. David Lean showed that he was the undisputed king of the epic, and that he could go one better with his all encompassing tale, while a couple of smaller scale films- Morton DaCosta’s The Music Man (a faithful screen adaptation of the Broadway hit), and Robert Mulligan’s To Kill A Mockingbird had just as great an impact. Lean’s earlier success with River Kwai meant he was a directorial force to be reckoned with while Darryl F. Zanuck was a massive Hollywood legend with numerous wins and nominations bursting out of his trophy cabinet- he assembled a strong cast of directors and actors to make another all star cast. My winner though, sneaking in behind the defence, is Milestone’s Mutiny On The Bounty; this remake out does the original in every way, with great performances from the 3 leads, Brando, Howard, and Harris, it is an exciting, harsh voyage which was not well received at the time. Arabia is almost too clean, too refined, while The Longest Day was groundbreaking but lacks something entertaining. The Music Man, for me, is just another throwaway musical, while with Mockingbird I struggle to look past the fact that it was one of those books forced upon us in school, and I don’t share the same love for it as many do.

My Winner: The Mutiny On The Bounty

My Nominations: Cape Fear. Dr. No. Lolita. The Mutiny On The Bounty. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The Manchurian Candidate.

I’m torn between winners from my personal nominations because there are several hits here, with Cape Fear being an outstanding thriller, Dr. No kick starting one of the greatest movie franchises, and Lolita being yet another Kubrick classic. As it’s my blog it comes down to personal preference so while Dr No is by no means the best or my favourite Bond film it gets my vote. Rarely before had we seen such a fascinating and winning mix of action, humour, drama, tension all weaved around a strong plot with subersive characters and good performances. This is the starting point for all modern action movies and gave other film-makers a new benchmark to aspire to.

My Winner: Dr. No

Dr No

Dr No

The first in the most successful movie franchise of all time, and the perfect introduction to Bond- one of the most loved characters in movie history. Sean Connery is perfect in the role he made his own, able to be tough and cold in the face of the enemy, charming with women, and capable of delivering witty one liners without them sounding cheesy. Dr. No was a worldwide hit upon release, and now almost half a century later thanks to this Ultimate Edition the film looks and sounds as if it was filmed yesterday- and a whole new legion of fans can become entwined in the world of 007.

Bond travels to America to find the bad guy who the Americans could not, follows the clues which lead him to a Caribbean island, and encounters two important characters-Honey Ryder, his love interest, and Quarrel, a guide. As with every Bond film following, the secret agent comes in contact with one or two ‘Bond Girls’, and a friend who helps him complete his mission. The famous shot of Ursula Andress coming out of the sea may well have been outrageously sexy in the 60’s, but has become extremely dated, or rather the audience has since become de-sensitised to images of a sexual nature. However, it remains the benchmark for the Bond Girl entrance, and Ryder is still one of the most famous women to grace Bond’s world. She was certainly a strong female character for the era, but there is a definite sexist attitude towards her throughout the film, mainly because Bond’s real sole purpose is to catch or kill the bad guy, complete the mission, and stay alive.

Quarrel is played brilliantly by John Kitzmiller, and although there are slight racist undertones, unfortunate but unsurprising for the time, he is a strong character and Bond is genuinely hurt when he is killed. We see that Bond is a haunted character, and that people who come into his life will inevitably die or not stay around. This is what makes him cold, why is must be mysogynistic, and why he cannot afford to get close to anyone. We are introduced to Moneypenny, whose relationship with Bond has always been intriguing over the years, and his superior M, who constantly annoy each other but have a great mutual respect. Dr. No himself is a slightly weak character, partly because of his lack of screen time, and partly because he is not as charismatic or memorable as later bad guys. However, he is ruthless and has the traits of most villains-pride, and an eye on world domination. His death scene is also weak, but perhaps this is because we are used to more elaborate scenes in later films.

Overall the film is high quality entertainment, the script is sharp and tense, the tone is darker than other movies of the time, the music is memorable, and the stunts are good, leading the way for its sequels. The features on the dvd are excellent, with deleted scenes, a good commentary, and interesting documentaries.

Feel free to leave any comments on the movie- does this still stand up to today’s standards of action and Bond movies? Also check out my other Bond reviews in the DVD section.