10. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Main Titles)”
From On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; Written by John Barry
We begin with a very different but extremely cool song and title sequence, one completely unlike anything else in the Bond canon. Veteran franchise composer John Barry did not want to compose a ‘title song’ for this 1969 George Lazenby outing, understandably believing there was no way to organically work the long and complex film title into lyrics. Instead, he composed this incredible electronic piece that plays out over a series of painterly, impressionistic silhouettes and brief, silent clips from prior movies.
The overall effect is pretty amazing, making it very clear that in this first non-Connery film, things have changed. Barry’s piece is extremely foreboding, building gradually and forcefully while the imagery grows wilder and more surreal. In one of the most memorable images, the black silhouette of an hourglass splits apart, and gradually becomes two women. The sequence is fairly remarkable from start to finish, recalling the past while suggesting a dark, dangerous new future. It seems like the perfect way to kick off the ‘new’ era of Bond that, due to Lazenby’s departure and Connery’s return, never actually happened.
9. “The Man With The Golden Gun”
From The Man With the Golden Gun; Performed by Lulu
My favorite example of an utterly silly, thoroughly cheesy, completely substance free James Bond opening, “The Man With The Golden Gun” is a wacky, faux ‘hard rock’ piece that is kind of awesome in spite of itself. The lyrics may be ridiculous – “Love is required whenever he’s hired; No one can catch him, no hit man can match him” – but they achieve the perfect amount of goofiness for this era of the series, and Lulu has a lot of fun singing what essentially amounts to one long string of dumb sexual innuendos. The visuals are actually excellent in their own right, with memorable images of women giving seductive glances underneath watery surfaces, or dancing in front of showers of red hot sparks. It may all be mindless and frivolous, but that’s what Bond themes were becoming at this point, and this sequence, at least, has no allusions about what it is. It’s just a fun, campy romp, and I like it.
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