Friday, January 9, 2009
Vanity Fair profiles John Barry
No other mainstream magazine gives as much coverage to film music as Vanity Fair does. In 1997, VF united Silver Age composers (Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein) and present-day Hollywood favorites (Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard) for a memorable photo spread--the film music equivalent of the 1958 "A Great Day in Harlem" photo shoot. Then last month, VF's Oscar blog provided readers with an impressive overview of this year's Best Original Score contenders (Slumdog Millionaire, the controversial Dark Knight).
This week, the online edition of VF has posted a lengthy profile of John Barry, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday. The article is a terrific read for those of us who are fans of Barry's classic music from the 007 movies. It goes into detail about the dispute between Barry and Monty Norman over who should be credited for "The James Bond Theme;" the creation of the game-changing Goldfinger theme sung by Shirley Bassey, who's in the above 1964 photo with Barry in the center ("'From Russia with Love' didn't wallop an audience. It didn't scream sex and danger and chic amorality. It wasn't silly. It wasn't 'Goldfinger'..."); and the melancholia that suffuses Barry's work, from the You Only Live Twice theme to scores for chick flicks like Somewhere in Time and Out of Africa.
Bruce Handy's Barry profile is also filled with great gossip (I didn't know he was once married to Blow-Up hottie and "Je t'aime... moi non plus" singer Jane Birkin). My favorite bits of gossip include the tidbit about Fellini's love for the Goldfinger score and an anecdote about Barry's contentious relationship with famously abrasive '60s and '70s Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman, who hated the Goldfinger theme and was disgusted by the raunchy lyrics in the Diamonds Are Forever theme.
Saltzman sure would have loved the pun that concludes The World Is Not Enough ("I thought Christmas only comes once a year").