Thunderball title sequence

MOVIES: The Bond Themes That Never Were: ‘Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’

The Bond songs that should of been but were replaced at the last minute!

In this new series, we take a look at the songs recorded for the James Bond films that were binned and replaced with something else. The how’s, the when’s and the why’s will all be answered. Some of the songs were featured elsewhere in their respective films, others were completely dumped. In this first part we look at the song that should of accompanied the title sequence to…

Thunderball

‘Thunderball’ was to of been the first Bond film with production scheduled during 1961, but legal complications arose with Ian Fleming’s collaborators and the whole S.P.E.C.T.R.E concept that it was deemed too expensive to pursue and so ‘Dr. No’ was chosen instead. By 1965 Bond had established himself and in particular with the colossal success of ‘Goldfinger’ around the world and especially in America. Now the size of the budget could reconsider ‘Thunderball’ and all the financial trappings that came with the film.

Filming took place between April and August 1965 chiefly in The Bahamas but with unit filming taking place in France and England. By mid-August principal photography had wrapped and ‘Thunderball’ went to the cutting room to be pieced together. That Autumn, John Barry (1933-2011) began the process of scoring the film and, working with lyricist Leslie Briccuse (“Goldfinger”), decided that it was impossible to write a song called “Thunderball”. Thankfully, James Bond had gained a huge following in Italy and had acquired the nickname ‘Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ in that country! Barry and Briccuse set about crafting a song using this title.

They invited Shirley Bassey back to record the song but after a few demo’s decided that her vocal was too strong for the more romantic tone of the song. Barry brings in singer Dionne Warwick to re-record the song and this time it works. So here is Maurice Binder’s ‘Thunderball’ main title sequence as it was planned, with Dionne Warwick singing “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”:

But, at the eleventh hour, the producers got cold feet and felt the film should really have an accompanying title song. Briccuse was out of ideas and so John Barry brought in good friend Don Black and, after burning alot of midnight oil, eventually came up with the song “Thunderball”, although Black later confessed that it made no sense whatsoever with lines like “so he strikes, like Thunderball”! It was also requested that a current chart star should sing the song and so Tom Jones was chosen. In a now famous tale as told by Don Black, Jones fainted at the end of the song and was unable to do another take, and so the “Thunderball” you hear to this day is the first and only recording of the song. He now sings the final note in a different key so that he maintains his ‘balance’!

“Mr. Kiss Miss Bang Bang” was not entirely ditched. It can be heard in the background as Bond escapes his captures and ends up in the appropriately named Kiss Kiss Club, only to be tracked down by the blood that pours from his leg wound. Warwick’s song remained unreleased until 1992 when it was published on the “30th Anniversary Collection” double disc collectors edition.

And so here is the ‘Thunderball’ title sequence as it became and we now know it. Spare a thought for Sir Tom as he drops to the floor at the end, won’t you!:

Click here to read about the other title songs in this series

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!