Song of the Sea

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, the first Bond film I saw on release, has an aquatic theme, what with Curt Jurgens’ big vessel that swallows submarines and stuff, though this is neglected in Maurice Binder’s title sequence accompanying the Carly Simon song. To enhance the effect, I have transcribed how the lyrics would sound if actually sung underwater. You can thank me when you see me.

For best effect, the following should be sung out loud. By Carly Simon.

Nobly doubly bebbly
Maybly feeb sab fobbly reb
Nobly double habbly goob ab yoob
Bably, yooble beb

I wabble looble bub sumble yoob fumble
I tribal hibe fromble lub libe
Bub libe hebble abubbly
The spibly lubbly
Ib keeble obbly seeble sabe tonibe

And nobly doubly bebbly
Thobe sumbly wib sumbly coob
Nobly doubly quibly waby doob
Why’b yoob habbly beebly goob?

The wabe thab yoob holby
Whenebble yoob holby
Theb sub kyble mabble insibe yoob
Thab keebly frob rubble
Bub jub keeble cubble
Howbly lebbly doobly thibble doob?

Oh, and nobly doubly bebble
Maybly feeb sab fobbly reb
Nobly double habble goob ab yoob
Babel, babel, dabble, yooble beb

Babel yooble beb
Dabble, yooble beb
Babel yooble beb

The other thing you can do here is watch the title sequence and try to imagine a movie in which all the action depicted — running about with naked girls (cloned by three), naked girls swinging from giant guns &c — actually occurs in the course of the storyline. I’m not certain of this, but I think the result might be even better than THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.

Maurice Binder used to tell the story of how, during one of the cartwheeling athletic bits, he had censorship issues with the nude girl’s pubic hair, which was visible even in silhouette (hey, it was the seventies). She wouldn’t shave, so he applied vaseline for a smoother finish (obviously the artiste couldn’t be expected to do this herself — what are unions for?). At which point, as M.B. was crouched down, intent on his work, Cubby Broccoli walked in and wondered aloud if he wasn’t overpaying his titles designer.

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7 Responses to “Song of the Sea”

  1. There’s something to be said for the old saying that Binder’s Bond titles were often better than the rest of the movie. That’s certainly the case for entries like Moonraker or Live And Let Die–the latter has some of Binder’s finest and most dramatic work, and nothing else in the film matches it, aside perhaps from the Baron Samedi scenes, the closest the Bond films ever came to embracing the supernatural. Sadly, Binder seems to have run out of steam by the time of Licence to Kill. His successor, Daniel Kleinman, has performed inventively and well, though he lacks Binder’s eye for simplicity.
    In terms of authorship, the quintessential Bond films seem like a genuine team effort between Binder, John Barry, Ken Adam, Peter Hunt editing, Brocolli and Saltzman producing, and Peter Maibaum adapting Ian Fleming. As long as most of the team was present it could easily weather changes in actors or directors, though Terence Young and Connery could be considered founding fathers of the franchise. Incidentally, Sam Mendes worked better than I thought for Skyfall–he seems to have left his respectable middlebrow self behind, and his theatrical framing is well suited to presenting the exotic Bond locales, as as well giving an old-fashioned coherence to the fight scenes, which were chopped to nonsense in Quantum of Solace.

  2. Connery credited Young with coaching him on how to behave like a gentleman, but Guy Hamilton certainly handled Goldfinger with equal panache. The fact that the same director also made three lacklustre and goofy later installments shows how the director has always been at the mercy of the organisation on these movies. Once the series lost its way, it didn’t much matter who helmed, though the repeated reliance on John Glen suggests they’d kind of stopped caring.

  3. Thang yood, Dabid.

  4. I always thought the other Guy Hamilton Bond films were lacking because Hamilton himself didn’t take them seriously. He was just trying to amuse himself:
    There’s a scene in Diamonds where a member of the CIA tells Bond “We have men everywhere” then he opens a door and says “and here’s Guy” and Guy Hamilton himself is just standing there-who almost nobody would recognize. IIRC John Landis cites this scene as the inspiration for his repeated director cameo in-jokes

    John Glenn is another matter. His decade long career seems mainly down to to the Broccoli loyalty and reluctance to change. It’s nice to see him learning on the job I suppose. His autobiography is very interesting. Particularly for it’s stories about the Saikland’s megaflop “Columbus” and working with Sam Fuller (who Glenn was not at all impressed with) on his aborted “Deadly Trackers”

    Joe Dante and pre LOTR Peter Jackson were both strongly considered for the World is Not Enough. I quite like what Apted did with that (with his wife rewriting) but I mourn for what could’ve been.

  5. I quite like the Guy joke. The first films had some pretty outrageous humour, but the balance was right. The problem with the Moore era is the BAD jokes, and the sheer quantity of them.

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