Marvin Hamlisch, an appreciation


A preliminary version of the poster for The Spy Who Loved Me

Composer Marvin Hamilsch has died at age 68 (click here for the Associated Press’s Hamlisch obituary via the Huffington Post). He is being remembered for a long career of film scores. He also has a special place in 007 movies despite only working on one.

Hamlisch scored two Oscar nominations for his work on 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me: for best score and for the title song, “Nobody Does It Better,” the latter with Carol Bayer Sager.

Hamlisch’s music is often noted for introducing a 1970s sound to the movie, including his “Bond 77” track in the pre-titles sequence. But Hamlisch also worked in an homage to John Barry. There’s a scene where Roger Moore’s James Bond and Agent Triple-X (Barbara Bach) are searching for Jaws at some Egyptian ruins. Hamlisch’s score for the scene, while using the ’70s sound of the movie, was based on Barry’s music for the pre-titles sequence of From Russia With Love.

“Nobody Does It Better,” meantime, would become one of the most popular songs of the Bond series. Even people who didn’t care for Bond appreciated the song. “Nobody Does It Better” took on a life of its own; if you glance at the “soundtrack” section of the composer’s BIO ON IMDB.COM, you’ll see it pops up a fair amount. Hamlisch may have just been “passing through” the 007 franchise, but he was still a big contributor to the Bond film legacy.

UPDATE I: Here are some other obituaries for the composer: from BLOOMBERG NEWS, from THE NEW YORK TIMES and from the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

6 Responses

  1. I don’t care much at all for Hamlisch’s TSWLM work. The whole sailor chorus at the end is unforgivable.

    Tom Zielinski

  2. Tom, methinks thou doth protest too much. That bit was simply a riff on “A Chorus Line”, which he had done on Broadway a couple of years earlier. I suspect it was put in at the request of Cubby, who was certainly responsible for Barry’s slidewhistle in TMWTGG. The play was on a road show production in the West End when Spy came out, so it was probably of mutual benefit. In any event, I was a fan of his, so RIP.

  3. Actually I got a kick out of the sailor chorus and IMHO I feel that nearly everything worked perfectly in TSWLM. My favorite score of the Roger Moore years next to Live and Let Die and Moonraker. BTW here is a YouTube clip showing the similarities of FRWL and TSWLM stalking scenes –

  4. Sorry, somehow the wrong url got added. This should be correct:

  5. We remember that video. Thanks for posting, Stuart.

  6. Funny pronunciation of Red Grawnt.

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