Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Duran Duran Makes Bond History... In a Film We'd Like to Forget

I like to consider myself a bit of a James Bond aficionado. And while I don't own Odd Job's hat, a replica Walther PPK, or a shoe with a 3 inch switchblade in it (although that would be pretty cool)--I'm a huge fan of the franchise. However, unlike the usual "fanboy" type, I can realistically admit when something sucks--even when it's something one of my favorite character appears in.

In 1985, EON and UA released what is possibly the worst Bond film ever made: "A View to a Kill." (I say possibly because "Moonraker" is usually considered the worst). Whether it's the obviously miscast geriatric Roger Moore (Filmed constantly with softening filters, and as stiff as a stick of stale gum), the stilted script, the vacuous Tanya Roberts, or the scene in which Grace Jones sleeps with Bond (My eyes! No!)--this film had it all. In short, the only notable things about "A View to a Kill" are Christopher Walken's bizarre performance as the film's villain, and the fact that this is Roger Moore's last film as Bond. Oh... and one more thing: this film generated the best Bond song ever recorded--by none other than Duran Duran.

Throughout the Bond franchise, there have been numerous memorable theme songs: Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger," Tom Jones' "Thunderball," "Nobody Does it Better" by Carly Simon, etc. But not one of these ever approached the popularity and success of Duran Duran's powerhouse single, "A View to a Kill." Written by the band and legendary composer John Barry, the song has a sizzling musical bed, a powerful beat, and a markedly good performance by the group. Punctuated by synth orchestral hits throughout, the song is, without a doubt, the most effectively exciting Bond song ever.

And the public agreed. The song skyrocketed up the Billboard charts in 1985, and became the only Bond song to reach number 1--a feat that has gone unmatched to this day. Of course, Duran Duran's popularity was partly to blame for this, but the fact is that this song transcended being merely a "Bond theme": people who didn't see the film loved it. People who hated James Bond loved it. People who never saw a Bond film loved it. In other words, it was just a kick-ass song, plain and simple.

Of course, the sad fact remains that this massive hit was associated with a massive clunker of a film. True, there were probably some ticket sales generated by the song, but it soon became apparent that the tune was exponentially more exciting than any of the lame scenes in the film that shared it's title.

In the end, it really didn't matter that much: The song kept Duran Duran on the charts, and "A View to a Kill" did respectably well at the box office. What's funny about this pairing is that it was a bit of a harbinger of doom on many fronts: Duran Duran's singles after 1986 were mostly forgettable. The next two Bond films, while good, didn't capture the popularity of the Moore films; and the next few Bond theme songs evaporated quickly from any charts they made it on to.

Could it be the curse of "A View To A Kill?" Who knows. Thankfully, the franchise's heart began to beat again in the 90's. But, the songs have never approached the level of Duran Duran's masterpiece. Who would have thought that nearly 21 years later, a Bond movie would be relegated to a footnote in a theme song's liner notes, instead of the other way around?

- You can find out more about "A View to a Kill" visit the IMDB.
- If you have iTunes, you can hear this song here.

1 comment:

Tim said...

It was interesting the time or two I saw Tanya Roberts on That 70's Show to see that her acting seemed to have improved not one bit since A View To A Kill.