Remembering John Barry Movies

‘The Ipcress File’

This 1965 Brit spy tale is kind of a downbeat anti Bond — underscored by the title theme, ‘A Man Alone.’ Harry Palmer is a kitchen sink spy, and Barry ingeniously uses the sound of a Cimbalom (an Austro-Hungarian dulcimer) to evoke a sense of melancholic disquiet. This was a perfectly paranoid partner for director Sidney J Furie’s skewed vision of London Town.


This 1964 historical war drama starring Michael Caine proved that Barry was accomplished at working on an epic scale — creating powerful, sweeping orchestral scores for this Boy’s Own tale of imperial valor.

‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’

The sixth installment of the Bond series may have featured the worst 007 in the secret agent’s history (George Lazenby), but it had one of the best scores. The grandiose bassline — featuring Barry’s signature brass melding with Moog synthesizer — is to die for.

‘From Russia with Love’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’

It’s a toss-up between these two beauties. Barry’s work set the tone for spy movies in a way similar to Morricone and spaghetti western. The cool, elegantly menacing twang of Vic Flick’s guitar allied with thrilling brass set sail for a raft of pastiches throughout the decade. Bond’s overseas jaunts allowed Barry to devise exotic orchestral backdrops for seductive sleuthing — adding an air of refinement to Sean Connery’s gentleman assassin. His space music track ‘Capsule in Space’ from ‘You Only Live Twice’ is wonderfully dramatic and ethereal.

Suave, moody and menacing — it’s impossible to conceive of classic Bond without Barry.

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