Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 4, 2011

[Bonded] -- Today's Flashback is shaken, not stirred, because we're looking at title songs for James Bond films in the 80s. In that one decade, three different actors assumed the task of portraying the British super-spy. Three! That has to be foreshadowing for a Flashback, right? In the 80s, those three actors appeared in five different films. During that time, we saw the original (and aging) Bond try to recapture the magic, the second Bond age himself out of the role, and a third Bond who never got the chance to grow into the role (he lasted only two films). So, which spy-worthy themes do I have for you in this week's Flashback?

Read and hear more after the jump.

Flashback #1
"You can see so much in me, so much in me that's new." The first Bond film of the 80s, For Your Eyes Only (1981), was Roger Moore's fifth outing as the seasoned spy. It was nearly his last appearance because Moore reportedly tried to leave the series but was persuaded to do two more films. Thank goodness he did this installment if only to redeem the franchise after 1979's Moonraker. Moore's Bond was lighter and more humorous than that of the man he replaced (Sean Connery). But even at his most flippant, this Bond still came across as an accomplished detective. Those detective skills were necessary as he attempted to crawl out of the spiraling web of deception in For Your Eyes Only. The title song, written by Bill Conti and Michael Leeson, was performed by Sheena Easton, who was the first song artist to appear in a Bond film -- that is, in the opening credits of the film. "For Your Eyes Only" became a top ten hit in both the U.S. and the U.K., and it was nominated for Best Song at the Academy Awards in 1982; it unfortunately lost to "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" which was buoyed by the uncanny tenor of Christopher Cross.

It may be all of 30 years old, but "For Your Eyes Only" has held up incredibly well (the song, that is, not necessarily the video). Let me know what you think.

Flashback #2
"Face to faces, secret places, feel the chill | Night fall covers me , but you know the plans I'm making." Our second flashback tune originally inspired last week's Heirs of Avalon Flashback theme. When the time came to compile the three songs for that entry, however, I realized this song was much better suited for this week's theme. Besides, the Fab Five have an extensive catalog so it was easy to select a replacement. A View to a Kill (1985) was Roger Moore's final appearance as 007.

As mentioned previously, Moore wanted out after For Your Eyes Only, and it is no wonder he left after this one: at age 57 (at the time of the film's release), he was the oldest actor to portray the spy. He no longer had the grace of his earlier films, so they had to employ nearly 100 stuntmen for all the action. Although a box office success, A View to a Kill was almost universally panned. Moore has, on several occasions, expressed regret about being a part of this film. Perhaps a younger Bond would have helped, but Christopher Walken's crazy machine-gunning villain, Max Zorin, and his bodyguard, May Day (strangely acted by Grace Jones), were just not up to the standards of villains in the Bond canon. Fortunately, the title song, co-written by John Barry and Duran Duran, was a bouncy joy. The band performed three different versions, two of which make no reference at all to the classic James Bond theme. Still, the song shot up the charts, hitting #2 in the U.K. and #1 in the U.S. So, let's dance into the fire with Duran Duran's music video for "A View to a Kill" (or see here if you prefer to view the theatrical version). 

Flashback #3
"Hey driver, where we going? | I swear my nerves are showing | Set my hopes up way too high | Living's in the way we die." If you think Roger Moore had it tough following Sean Connery into the world of 007, imagine how rough the going was for Timothy Dalton. He only had to replace the longest-serving Bond: Moore had spent twelve years in the role and he made seven films [source: Wikipedia]. Little known casting fact: Dalton was the original choice to succeed Connery as Bond. Dalton, however, declined because he felt he was too young (he was all of 22 years old). He was a ripe old 41 when he appeared in his first Bond film, The Living Daylights (1987). This outing was relatively well-received, and many fans, and critics alike, applauded its return to realism and espionage. It has a "fresh" score of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The soundtrack for The Living Daylights was notable for its use of sequenced electronic rhythm tracks overdubbed with the orchestra. Although composer John Barry is reported to have had something of a rocky collaboration with the Norwegian pop group, A-ha, the joint result has been quite popular. "The Living Daylights" is one of A-ha's most successful singles, reaching #5 in the U.K. (but not reaching Billboard's Hot 100 in the U.S.). There are two versions of the song: the first appears on the film soundtrack, and a reworked second version appears on A-ha's third album, Stay On These Roads (1988). I have posted here a fan made video using the soundtrack's version of the song.

There were a total of five Bond films in the 80s (one of which was the "unofficial" film, Never Say Never Again). Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. Fortunately for me, two of the films (the aforementioned "unofficial" one and Octopussy) had lousy title themes. So, now that I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. But if you 80s-philes need more flashbacks, please visit the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post.

I'll see you in seven!

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