CineSavant Column

Tuesday June 14, 2022



Here’s something we found online via the Facebook feed of film collector and 3-D authority Hillary Hess: ever since we bought our first James Bond LPs in the 1960s we wondered why The James Bond Theme is listed as composed by Monty Norman when most everything else in the classic 007 musicsphere is the work of John Barry. We were told that Norman put the basic music theme together and that Barry added elements and/or changed the orchestration. For whatever reason, Norman retained sole composing credit.

Is that the whole truth?  Could this ‘musical comedy’ track really be the ‘Original’ James Bond Theme? It’s a novelty song by Monty Norman called Good Sign, Bad Sign. Hard to believe, but here it is … a perfectly awful comedic piece with a very familiar line of notes, played by a sitar, no less. Reportedly composed for an unproduced 1950s musical, the song is about an (Indian?) man born with an ‘unlucky sneeze.’

It does remind me of a different situation, a similarity between unrelated songs that could very well be wholly unintentional. The first two measures or so of the title song for the musical The Night They Raided Minsky’s are more or less identical to the main instrumental riff for, believe it or not, Dimitri Tiomkin’s 55 Days at Peking (you first must get through 30 seconds of furious preamble). Compare!  The correlation is a little more obvious against an instrumental of Minsky’s, which I didn’t find online.



To cover the recent 4K disc of Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, DVD Classics Corner on the Air has put together a special podcast called Dick Dinman salutes Some Like it Hot.

The show sources a multi-hour interview that Dick conducted a number of years ago with none other than actor Tony Curtis. Some of this has been heard before, but much is new, as Dick has re-edited segments pertaining to Curtis’s filming of the famous comedy with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon.



Kino just announced its release schedule for July. Notable titles include a Blu-ray triple bill et of Maria Montez & Jon Hall’s White Savage, Gypsy Wildcat and Sudan. Also up is Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 4K, and the collection Film Noir The Dark Side of Cinema VIII, which includes a show I’ve wanted to see forever, Street of Chance.

The titles I’d grab at first begin with Delbert Mann’s Marty with Ernest Borgnine, finally in 1:85. Where the Lilies Bloom starring Jan Smithers and Harry Dean Stanton is something I’ve wanted to catch up with as well. A multi-disc set of the second season of Night Gallery is as crowded with extras as was the first.

Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires is back again in a new remastering job; I’ll be curious to see what’s different. I’ve never heard of the drama Time out of Mind but it’s by Robert Siodmak, which makes it a must-see for this viewer. And a 4K disc of Kubrick’s The Killing promises to be something special as well.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson