Forgotten Books will be back next week, but I thought it would be fun to mark Valentine's Day with a few words about some of the finest romantic songs that have been written for..crime and thriller movies. This idea came to me the other day when I was watching a televised concert of James Bond music, conducted by Carl Davis. One of the singers, Mary Carewe, gave an excellent performance of what is possibly the most under-rated of all Bond themes, Moonraker.was at one time going to be sung by either Frank Sinatra or Johnny Mathis but at the last minute Shirley Bassey was brought in to record it. I felt Mary Carewe's version was actually better than Bassey's. (My plan, by the way, was to link to Youtube versions of the songs in question, but here, I'm afraid my techno-incompetence has let me down - for reasons that escape me, none of the links seem to work. Perhaps those who are wiser than me can advise what I'm doing wrong, please? Anyway, all the songs are easy to find on Youtube, and are well worth it.)
The same concert included a much more famous song, performed by Lance Ellington, the classic from On Her Majesty's Secret Service that was originally recorded by Louis Armstrong, shortly before he died. This is We Have all the Time in the World, one of the very best love songs ever written. The music for both those Bond songs was composed by the great John Barry. His many brilliant soundtracks included a notable score for Deadfall, and the striking (if little known) song sung by Shirley Bassey over the credits. This is the memorable My Love Has Two Faces, a song that has grown on me the more I've listened to it..
Returning to Bond, some of the other great songs from the series include The Spy Who Loved Me and Skyfall, but even better is the soundtrack from the spoof movie Casino Royale, and the highlight is Dusty Springfield's The Look of Love. The lyric was written by the late, great Hal David, who also wrote Moonraker and We Have All the Time in the World, and whose gift for expressing romance in a lyric was matchless.
David also collaborated briefly with Michel Legrand, but Legrand's best songs mostly had lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The finest, perhaps, is the original version of The Windmills of Your Mind by Noel Harrison, who died not long ago. It appeared in The Thomas Crown Affair, an enjoyable film full of Sixties touches and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. And finally, memories of a brilliant comedy thriller, The Italian Job, with a great song that opened the film,,;On Days Like These, by Quincy Jones and Don Black. The romantic words and melody contrast very cleverly with the murderous finale to that opening scene..