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Soundtrack review: James Bond: Dr. No (Monty Norman / John Barry – 1962)

Composer of the month Franchises James Bond franchise John Barry month

Soundtrack review: James Bond: Dr. No (Monty Norman / John Barry – 1962)



“Dr. No” is one of the most important movie if history. I am not kidding. This is the movie that started it all, the first James Bond adaptation for the big screen. For film music, this movie is equally important because this was the launch of one of the most famous themes in movie history, the James Bond theme. This score was supposed to be part of John Barry month, but it would be a bit of a stretch. So, for completions’ sake, consider this a prologue to that month.

Why do I say that? There’s a historical reason and a personal one…First and foremost, contrary to what I thought, John Barry didn’t actually write the James Bond theme or the score for the first movie. He only arranged it and reworked some bit, based on Monty Norman’s original composition. Finding this out made me very happy, because (and we come to the personal reason) I hate this score; it’s one of my lowest ranked. John Barry’s touch, his orchestral anthems and his sensitivity are completely lacking. “Dr. No” is a collection of groovy island cues that do nothing for me. Of course, if you enjoy twist music, or the kind of tunes you would here at a party under some palm trees, this score is for you. I might enjoy it if I was literally on an the beach, at a party under those trees, but other than that, this score was a waste of time.

But then there’s “James Bond theme” …this score is worth it only for this cue, even if the original version is not the usual jazzy big band goodness we’re used to in John Barry’s subsequent compositions. It’s a slightly more electronic version, but it’s the start of something memorable

Cue rating: 53 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 2 / 39

Album excellence: 5%


James Bond theme


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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