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Robin and Marian - John Barry

Saturday, 02 February 2002 14:30

Review by Stephen Woolston

The troubled musical history of this film is famous. And understandable. The movie is an enjoyable affair but a narrative mess. Is it a sincere study of the sadness of old age? Is it making a nonesense of the construction of myths? Is it a good old British period comic romp? Or is it a love story? At different times it is each of these, but it doesn't know in which of these themes to rest it's final moral. It seems the creative forces involved - director Lester, writer Goldman, and producer Stark - all wanted to pull the film in different directions. Stark, in hiring John Barry to replace Michel Legrand's score, plays his ace card to finally win.

Ordinarily, a producer bringing in a composer to write a good old fashioned Hollywood romance score against the director's more profound conceptions would smack of the low brow. Barry himself is unlikely to have approached this any more profoundly than as a job of work. After all, his life was in a hurry, he had only two weeks and a producer's brief that said little more than 'don't get smart, just give me a love theme they'll remember'. Yet Barry pulls it off tremendously. His theme is one of the greatest love themes in cinema history. And the score has much more. Militaristic marches, pastorals for the country, and some dark study of the internal angers that drive the main characters. He successfully ignores the tug-of-war going on in the film to bring it the only unity the film has. This is one of those examples where, through a coherent music score, Barry most definitely improves an otherwise messy film.

The score was originally issued in short supply on a promotional LP, containing the two Barry cues that were replaced in the final film. It was, however, mono. A more recent bootleg CD was lifted from the isolated score track of the American laser disc, but this did not include the two unused tracks and presented the music with varying sound levels and crude cuts. This is a complete recording in stereo (Dolby Surround, in fact), and having the unusual advantage of being recorded from the original manuscripts, the score is captured in almost perfect form. Only in a very few places can you feel the difference. It clearly becomes the new champion for authenticity in Silva's repertoire. Jon Burlingame's notes reveal interesting facts about the score and Richard Shore's previously little known involvement. Another must-have for lovers of Barry, and for lovers of romantic film music in general.

Stephen Woolston

Read 15079 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 April 2015 14:32
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PIA website

Have a look at our old "Play It Again" label website here.

Play It Again Records CD catalogue offered the discerning listener a wide choice of digitally re-mastered recordings from film and television, and rare collections of work from the likes of Don Black and Ron Grainer.

Contact the JB site

If you wish to send an email, for example with content for the website, please contact Geoff Leonard:

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Geoff (owner) and Ruud (webmaster) have been running the John Barry website since June 18, 2001.

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John Barry related Events or Concerts

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A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!

James Bond Concert Spectacular at Buxton Opera House

Buxton Opera House
Water street,
Buxton, Derbyshire, sk17 6xn

Sun 12 Aug


The popular Q The Music Show brings its James Bond Concert Spectacular to Buxton Opera House.

The 13-piece band will be bringing the fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert. This show has been a huge success all around the world with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.

Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies, you can hear the greats like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Thunderball, Live And Let Die, Goldeneye and Licence To Kill amongst all the others. With top musicians and an informative and highly amusing compere, this show has everything you could want for a fabulous night out – and one that you will be talking about for years to come. Formed in 2004, Q The Music Show have established a worldwide reputation for their authentic covers, orchestral sound and fabulous hair-raising vocalists. The show has been popular abroad at events in Monte Carlo, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Guernsey, Prague and many others.

The Music of BondThe Music of Bond
Royal Albert Hall
Wednesday 19 September 2018
Starts: 7:30pm


Presented by Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace). Over fifty years of timeless James Bond themes from all your favourite 007 films.

Hits from Goldfinger, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Spectre, From Russia with Love to name just a few, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Gareth Hudson Conductor
Alison Jiear Vocalist
Matthew Ford Vocalist

The Bridgewater Hall - Music of John Barry November 2018

The Music of John Barry

Saturday 10 November 7.30pm
The Bridgewater Hall
Lower Mosley Street
Manchester, M2 3WS


Nicholas Dodd conductor
Andrew Collins presenter
Manchester Camerata

John Barry created some of the most memorable and recognisable film scores of the 20th century, such as Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves, Zulu and of course much of the music from the James Bond series; his versatility and originality were peerless. His death in 2011 deprived cinema of a true musical great. This concert pays tribute to his life and music with a carefully selected programme, conducted by Nicholas Dodd, who collaborated closely with the composer on his later films. Nicholas Dodd is regarded as one of the leading conductors and orchestrators of Hollywood film music and is a noted expert on, and performer of John Barry’s music. In fact, every James Bond movie from the last 10 years bears his signature.