Welcome to the From Silents to Satellite files. In the second of what we hope to be many interviews and articles from John William’s original magazines From Silents to Satellite, here is an interview conducted by John Williams with film director Terence Young with the filmmakers’ memories of composer John Barry. John Mansell.
TERENCE YOUNG ON JOHN BARRY.
By John Williams. © 1992/2021. Originally published in Issue 15/16 of From Silents to Satellites.
(Transcribed and edited for MMI by John Mansell © 2021)
Depending on which Bond film you saw first was pivotal on which was your favourite Bond and film. The first film I actually saw was a double bill (remember them?). This was two films on one programme and it was Dr. No and From Russia with Love, and what a splendid three hours or so of entertainment it was. I have always felt that apart from being the first Bond movies I saw that they were also well made by director Terence Young. I spoke to the director about his working relationship with John Barry.
When did you first meet with John Barry?
He came into our lives when we were making Dr. No, We already had another composer doing the music for the movie which was alright, but we did not have anything exciting for the title music. I think it was someone at Chappell music that said to us you must listen to John. He had a band at the time called the John Barry Seven, and he came in and wrote what is now the James Bond theme. But after this the studio became awfully wary of him, they thought he was too young and in-experienced in film music. I had a little bit to do with him finally doing the score for From Russia with Love.
I recall somebody wanted Lionel Bart to write the music, I already knew Lionel and had done for many years, I had used a song of his for a movie I directed called Serious Charge, which was sung by Cliff Richard in the film was called Living Doll, and its still popular all these years later. I said that if they thought John was inexperienced then so was Lionel, and I think we owe it to John to give him a chance. Harry Saltzman wanted Lionel, or at least was very keen on the idea of him writing the music and I was aswell, I liked Lionel a lot, but still could not understand why they were doing down John because he was in-experienced. If they were going to ask Malcolm Williamson to write the music that would be understandable as he was experienced and classically trained. Cubby Broccoli was on my side and in the end, it was two against one, I think Cubby was the decider we should go with John. But in the meantime, Harry had said yes to Lionel doing the music, and that is why Lionel wrote From Russia with Love, which was and still is a charming song. Recently I was running the film in French for some students and my God, the music is awfully good. In fact there is a couple of scenes in it where John has created the sound for the rest of the Bond series. There is a big action scene, where a shoot out takes pace at the gypsy camp, the music I am sure has been used in other Bond movies, it’s very exciting stuff. He wrote a hell of a good score, and then thankfully they gave a picture to do on his own which was Goldfinger. He did a great job on that and wrote that famous title song.
Yes, I think he rates it as the best Bond score as well. On the next Bond you directed Thunderball, there was a song called Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which was going to be the title song wasn’t it?
Yes they wanted to get the title song in because the song had helped Goldfinger so much. It was one of the most popular things about the movie and they wanted to repeat the success with Thunderball which was ok but a bit repetitive, I remember when I first heard it I said it sounded more like “Thunderfinger”, John laughed and said well you know I gave them what they wanted. John is a brilliant musician, absolutely brilliant. I think his work in Hollywood has been very distinguished, and his music for Out of Africa was extremely well done.
On a personal level I have always felt From Russia with Love to be the ultimate Bond film.
TY. It’s the best Bond film. Dilys Powell said that when she talks to critics about James Bond movies it’s the one that they all remember. She analysed it by saying it was the best story he ever wrote, the only book by Ian Fleming that you could read without thinking that you were reading down a little bit. It’s a very well written book, very exciting characters and she also said the film was so well cast. As well as Sean Connery, who was then only just getting into the skin of James Bond, there was Pedro Armendariz and Robert Shaw.
I thought the girl (Daniela Bianchi)was very good as well.
TY. The girl was extremely good, and very attractive, anyway it worked, and that was the main thing. John Barry is a marvellous guy and I have enormous admiration for him.