Here’s a video clip of the opening credit from “Goldfinger,” the latest film being profiled by Bullz-Eye.com in its look back at all the James Bond films.
John Barry had proven himself far more than able in various musical capacities on the first two Bond films. So, even though he had never before written a pop hit, he was finally allowed to write the music for the opening song, and what a song it was.
The brassy opening bars of “Goldfinger” announce melodramatically that we are in for an adventure of vast proportion and the music is jazzy yet almost operatic in scale. The lyrics, from the theatrical songwriting team of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, were inspired by Bobby Darin’s unlikely hit version of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil’s “Mack the Knife,” (the only megahit we know about a thief, murderer, and rapist). As Barry had no problem admitting, the astonishing, hell-bent-for-leather vocals of singer Shirley Bassey were crucial to selling the outrageous lyrics, a warning that gold-obsessed millionaires may not be good boyfriend material. The song was, of course, a tremendous hit. It remains easily the greatest Bond theme and, for all its near-camp excess, one of the greatest movie theme songs of all time. The rest of the film’s score isn’t so bad, either.