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THN’s Bond Movie Titles Rundown Part 1

When the 23rd Bond movie was christened SKYFALL, fans the world over were arching their collective eyebrow and saying, ‘Sherioushly? Shkyfall?’

It’s fair to say that it doesn’t have that Bondian ring to it. In fact it sounds more like a James Bond computer game. With titles like AGENT UNDER FIRE, NIGHTFIRE and EVERYTHING OR NOTHING, they all sounded vaguely 007-esque, but by no means good enough to warrant a cinematic eponym. SKYFALL fits in more with that mob than with its theatrical brethren, but just how good are the previous film names? Some are clearly great (GOLDFINGER), some are fun but tenuous (LIVE AND LET DIE) and some are straight up nonsensical  (A VIEW TO A KILL… That… I… I don’t know what that means).

In this series, we shan’t be discussing the films as such, but the titles specifically and how they relate to the movie and in a broader context. It’ll be more fun than it sounds. There may even be swearing, such as bums, plops and c*nt (cunt).

Join us, won’t you, as we go through every title and see whether they warrant their iconic status and see if the name SKYFALL really is that bad. That’s the title, not the feature itself, which we gave five stars (check it out here). We’re not going in-depth with the movies, merely examining their titles. We shall go in depth with every one in chronological order and ask:

Does It Sound Like A Bond Film:
There are certain codes and conventions that we all associate with a Bond movie title, including aspects of danger (usually involving the words ‘Kill’ or ‘Die’), sometimes they’re merely the name of the villain or the mission or they may allude to some cataclysmic world event. There is something etherial about them that we all just sort of know, y’ know?

Does It Get A Song:
Does the name of the film get its own song? Not all of them do, surprisingly. And is the song any good?

Does It Make Sense:
A cool sounding name is fine and dandy (like sour candy, to quote George Bush), but does it make any sense as it relates to the movie, or in general?

Alternative Titles:
We will also toss around some alternative names to see if we can do better than the real ones (OCTOPUSSY… HEPTOCLUNGE?).

So pop on your tux, pick up your jet-pack and bungee jump off a dam and into the Soviet chemical weapons facility of mirth as we enter the O(euvre)O(f)7 (that last bit worked better in my head, hopefully you can see what I tried to do there).

DR. NO

(1962) dir. Terence Young

The first movie/adaptation with a name that gives nothing away at first glance, and one of the two films to use the antagonist as its title (three if you count the Christopher Lee outing, which is also the number of nipples he has. Fun fact).

Does It Sound Like A Bond Film:
Not as such, as it doesn’t have the usual tropes. It sounds more like something you’d say to your GP when he puts on a rubber glove. But then it is the first film, so fair dos.  It set the bar. Low, but it set it.

Does It Get A Song:
No song called DR NO, but its primary theme by Monty Norman became the over-arching and now truly legendary James Bond signature tune which has popped up in various forms in every movie since. They also play Three Blind Mice, but I doubt that counts. Here’s the opening sequence which, when viewed in retrospect after seeing all the others, is fucking peculiar.

Does It Make Sense:
Absolutely – it’s the name of the villain. Though would it have been named after him were he called Dr Arse-Whistle? We may never (Dr.) know.

Alternative Titles:
Arse Whistle
Bond Begins
James Rides a Ryder

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

(1963) dir. Terence Young

Bond is rushin’ around the Soviet Union, being chased by a big, flaming chopper.

Does It Sound Like A Bond Film:
Indeed. It implies romance, intrigue, an international flavour, all things we associate with Bond. So yes, totes.

Does It Get A Song:
And how! Matt Monroe sings the title tune, all sweeping strings and allure. It’s often overlooked in favour of the more grandiose and dramatic numbers, but it’s one of the best. It’s also one of the few theme songs to be heard within the diegesis of the film, as it plays on a radio while Bond is getting his end away.

Does It Make Sense:
Well, he writes the eponymous term on a photograph for Moneypenny, though fans of letter writing scenes will be disappointed. We don’t get enough good letter writing scenes in these films.

“Dear M,
How’s London? The weather is fine here, just a bit nippy. Got chased by a helicopter the other day, WELL random. And this mad woman went at me with her shoe. It had a poisoned knife in it, I almost got proper shanked. But you know me, Mr. Resourceful. I quipped at the time, but now I think about it, it was probably in poor taste. Hope Moneypenny is well, give my love to Q.
From Russia,
With Love,
James.
XXX

PS. Shot another sniper through his lens, today. That’s two, now. Can’t be many more, can there?”

Alternative Titles:
Letters From A Little Town Just Outside Of Stalingrad
My Big Fat Gypsy Cat Fight
From Feltham With Love

GOLDFINGER

(1964) dir. Guy Hamilton

Bond goes up against a man who loves golllllllllllllld in the greatest of them all (apart from the rape scene, but the less said about that the better).

Does It Sound Like A Bond Film:
Again, kind of. It is THE Bond film, the one we all think of when asked to name a Bond movie and undeniably the most famous. It’s so iconic, heralded as the benchmark for those that would follow and the movie title is so synonymous with the franchise that, despite not having any of the regular characteristics, it is inherently Bondian. Although it does begin a mini-trope as it is the first of three to feature the word ‘Gold.’

Does It Get A Song:
You betcha. Not only is it the most famous 007 film theme, its also one of the most well known cinematic singles of all time. Sung by Dame Shirley Bassey, it has become the measuring stick. No matter how good any of the following tunes were, people would always say, ‘It’s alright, but its no Goldfinger.’

Does It Make Sense:
Like DR NO before it, GOLDFINGER is one of the more self-identifying titles. Rumours that he was originally christened Brownfinger are both obvious and incorrect. He was originally called Tim, but it lacked a certain Je ne sais quoi.

Alternative Titles:
Tim
Brownfinger
Pussy’s on a Plane

THUNDERBALL

(1965) dir. Terence Young

Bond does more knobbing for Queen and Country and rides a jetpack like a boss! Just look at this poster. It’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever looked at.

Does It Sound Like A Bond Film:
It certainly sounds exciting. It implies imminent disaster, maybe of global proportions. It also makes us think of the National Lottery, but at the time, it was an unsullied work of glorious hyperbole.

Does It Get A Song:
It gets two! Sort of. The original theme, by Dionne Warwick was the awesome ‘Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,’ but United Artists rejected it, saying they wanted a theme incorporating the movie title. After the success of Dame Shirley with the previous eponymous song, fellow Welsh warbler Tom Jones was brought in for a big, bombastic, brassy number. Rumour has it that he fainted while singing the final line, and if you listen closely, he does sound like he’s falling away from the mic. Johnny Cash submitted a version which, although terrific in its own right, just didn’t feel like a Bond song. Worth looking up though.

Here’s Thunderball by Tom Jones:

Here’s Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Dionne Warwick

And here’s Johnny Cash’s lost version:

Does It Make Sense:
THUNDERBALL is the name of the operation Bond must subdue, and relates specifically to an element of the plot, so it actually makes more sense than many that would come later.

Alternative Titles:
Lotto
Dream Number
Midweek Draw

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

(1967) dir. Lewis Gilbert

Connery’s intended last effort and the first time we see Blofeld’s face. And thanks to Dr. Evil, we will never look at him the same way again.

Does It Sound Like A Bond Film:
It sure does. It mentions dying (the first one to do so) and is enigmatic. ‘You Only Live Twice?’ said the general public. ‘What does that mean?’ ‘Ahhh,’ said nobody, ‘you’ll have to watch the film to find out. Or read the book. But watch the film, it’s sexier. Also, Roald Dahl does the screenplay. Roald Dahl! Who knew, right?’

Does It Get A Song:
Yup, and it’s one for the ages. The romantic strings have been woven into the lore of movie music and Nancy Sinatra’s haunting vocals provide an eargasm of audio awesome. It really helped the career of Robbie Williams too, but you can’t have everything.

Does It Make Sense:
Absolutely, Bond is ‘killed’ in the pre-credit sequence, only to ‘come back to life’ in a submarine. Hey, we’ve all done it. DIE ANOTHER DAY seems to imply the same thing, but this is better. This is a lot better.

Alternative Titles:
Die Another Day
I Bet You Don’t Get To Live Three Times!
Alright, Fine. But Four Times Is Taking The Piss.

The JAMES BOND Movie Titles rundown WILL RETURN tomorrow with ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, LIVE AND LET DIE and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, so prepare for third-nipple based fun.

For your eyes only, the entire rundown of Bond Titles is here. Positively shocking.

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John is a gentleman, a scholar, he’s an acrobat. He is one half of the comedy duo Good Ol’ JR, and considers himself a comedy writer/performer. This view has been questioned by others. He graduated with First Class Honours in Media Arts/Film & TV, a fact he will remain smug about long after everyone has stopped caring. He enjoys movies, theatre, live comedy and writing with the JR member and hetero life partner Ryan. Some of their sketches can be seen on YouTube and YOU can take their total hits to way over 17!

5 Comments

  1. Rob Burch

    October 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I think I actually prefer Johnny Cash’s version than Tom Jones’.

  2. badblokebob

    October 24, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Funny to call “gold” a mini-trope — if you’re looking for the most common words in Bond titles, it’s joint second with “die”. And the most common is “the”, so…

  3. John Sharp

    October 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    ……….so…….?

  4. James McMahon

    May 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Dear Mr. Sharp:

    You said, “some are straight up nonsensical (A VIEW TO A KILL… That… I… I don’t know what that means).”

    Please do not make the mistake of assuming that because you do not know what something means, that it therefore does not have a meaning.

    The Fleming title, “From a View to a Kill,” one word longer than the movie title, “A View to a Kill,” derives from fox hunting. A fox hunt is divided up into more than a dozen stages, two of which are (wait for it) . . . the “View,” and the “Kill.” In his story, Fleming takes us from a view of the enemy, to the kill. Hence (yes I said “hence”) the completely comprehensible title, “From a View to a Kill,” or in cinematic terms, “A View to a Kill.”

    Your welcome.

    For my next miracle, I’ll make string theory easy, and solve the Unified Field theory conundrum, but right now, it’s my tea break.

    James

    Chee

  5. John Taylor

    July 28, 2013 at 3:41 am

    Only thing wrong with any of this, the books are so much better. They should have stopped making Bond movies once they ran out of Ian Fleming’s work.

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