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June 4, 2015

James Bond films & theme songs

[Note: This was originally written in 2015; it has been updated to reflect the two subsequent Bond films.]

One of the rounds at my pub quiz this week was dedicated to movie music – specifically, the theme songs from the twenty-three James Bond movies.

007 has an outsized presence in trivia. For example, one of the “Top Ten Challenges” on 500 Questions asked for the seven films starring Roger Moore. And a search of the J! Archive reveals nearly 200 clues mentioning or asking for the spy’s name, including four Final Jeopardy! clues (the last was March 9).

In preparation, I put together a table of all of the James Bond movies with their theme songs. For good measure, I threw in each star’s name, because I always forget which single film featured George Lazenby (it was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).

The rest, in order:

Sean Connery (6 films)
Roger Moore (7)
Timothy Dalton (2)
Pierce Brosnan (4)
Daniel Craig (5)

There are also two “non-canonical” films, i.e., films that weren’t produced by Eon Productions: the 1967 spoof Casino Royale, starring David Niven, and 1983’s Never Say Never Again, starring Sean Connery.

Then we also had a short film with Daniel Craig bringing Queen Elizabeth II to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics:

On to the good stuff:

FilmYearBondTheme PerformerSong name (if different from title)Oscar
Dr. No1962ConneryJohn Barry Orchestra"James Bond Theme"
From Russia with Love1963ConneryMatt Monro
Goldfinger1964ConneryShirley Bassey
Thunderball1965ConneryTom Jones
You Only Live Twice1967ConneryNancy Sinatra
On Her Majesty's Secret Service1969LazenbyLouis Armstrong*"We Have All the Time in the World"
Diamonds Are Forever1971ConneryShirley Bassey
Live and Let Die1973MoorePaul McCartney & WingsNominated
The Man with the Golden Gun1974MooreLulu
The Spy Who Loved Me1977MooreCarly Simon"Nobody Does It Better"Nominated
Moonraker1979MooreShirley Bassey
For Your Eyes Only1981MooreSheena EastonNominated
Octopussy1983MooreRita Coolidge"All Time High"
A View to a Kill1985MooreDuran Duran
The Living Daylights1987Daltona-ha
Licence to Kill1989DaltonGladys Knight
GoldenEye1995BrosnanTina Turner
Tomorrow Never Dies1997BrosnanSheryl Crow
The World Is Not Enough1999BrosnanGarbage
Die Another Day2002BrosnanMadonna
Casino Royale2006CraigChris Cornell"You Know My Name"
Quantum of Solace2008CraigJack White & Alicia Keys"Another Way to Die"
Spectre2015CraigSam Smith"Writing's on the Wall"Won
No Time to Die2021CraigBillie Eilish
*closes the film; considered by many to be more of a "theme" than the orchestral prelude by John Barry

In case you’re wondering, we got 9/10 – Sheena Easton doesn’t stick in the brain that easily.

  1. Pat Russell permalink

    If you are talking movies your list is complete. But it turns out that there was a one off TV version of Casino Royale broadcast on the old CBS “Climax” TV anthology show. It was season 1 episode 3 and first aired on October 21, 1954. It’s in IMDB. Search for “Casino Royale” then select “show all entries”. (You can also find it by drilling down from the “Climax” (1954) (TV series) entry.) Now, if you can’t turn this piece of trivia into at least one free drink there’s no hope for you. The only reason I was familiar with its existence is because I have the “Bond 50” Blu Ray set. It’s buried in the supplemental material on one of the disks.

  2. Pat Russell permalink

    But wait, there’s more! Fleming did the deal for the rights to do Casino Royale on TV, the very broadcast I mentioned above, before Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the original principals of Eon Productions, got involved. So Eon was able to buy the rights to everything but Casino Royale. The whole fight about the Casino Royale deal resulted in various non-Eon groups gaining the right to produce the two non-canonical Bond films. After decades of litigation and bales of money Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, both children of Cubby Broccoli but by different wives, the current principals at Eon, were able to buy back all the rights. This resulted in the 2006 Casino Royale and Eon finally getting complete control of the Bond franchise.

What do you think?