Jack Garner: RPO plays music from Bond, James Bond, films

05:00 AM, Feb 14, 2013

Daniela Bianchi and Sean Connery in a scene from the 1963 motion picture 'From Russia With Love.' (MGM Home Entertainment/GNS)/

Written By Jack Garner

What’s the greatest guitar riff of all time? You know, the musical hook we all love and will always remember? Candidates would probably include Keith Richard’s “Satisfaction,” Eric Clapton and Duane Allman on “Layla,” John Lennon and George Harrison on “Day Tripper,” The Kinks “You Really Got Me,” or maybe Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Duane Eddy’s “Ramrod,” or Link Wray’s “Rumble.”

However, I suggest we step aside from the rock world and look to the movies. I suggest the greatest guitar riff was a simple but marvelously cutting and utterly memorable lick by a relatively obscure English guitarist, heard in the great opening theme of Dr. No, the original James Bond film, and oft-repeated and duplicated in 007 film after film for a half-century after. That original guitarist carries the marvelous name of Vic Flick.

Flick’s riff will be just one of many pleasures Friday and Saturday (Feb. 15 and 16) when the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Pops tackles the great music of the James Bond films. Playing the famous dum-de-da-da, de dum-dum dum-de-da-da will be popular Rochester jazz guitarist Bob Sneider.

I’ve been waiting my whole life to play the Bond theme with an orchestra,” Sneider says.

License to Thrill: Classic Bond” will feature the RPO performing two dozen Bond themes, from Dr. No to the modern era. Eleven of the themes came from the prolific composing pen of the late John Barry (including From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and Diamonds Are Forever), but there’s also music from Paul McCartney, Marvin Hamlisch, and even Madonna. British singer Mary Carewe will perform the vocal themes.

Carl Davis, a formidable film composer and arranger in his own right, created the “Classic Bond” program and will conduct. Though a native New Yorker, Davis has built a significant reputation in England with scores for such films as The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and especially by providing music for important classic film restorations, including Abel Gance’s legendary Napoleon and the films of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton.

FILMS IN LOVE. What film do you want to accompany the roses and chocolates of Valentine’s Day? Heaven knows, there are probably more romantic films than almost any other type produced by Hollywood. Here are a few of my favorites.

Number one is — and forever will be — Casablanca. Filmmakers will never surpass the bittersweet romance between Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund in exotic North Africa, in the encroaching shadow of the Third Reich. Filmgoers the world over “will always have Paris.”

Other films to warm two hearts include:

• Somewhere in Time, with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve falling in a love across the ages.

• Kenneth Branagh in oh-so-sweet Much Ado About Nothing, a buoyant, sun-drenched film that proves the everlasting vitality of well-performed Shakespeare.

• Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat, two of the most beloved and romantic of Hollywood musicals.

• The African Queen, the blossoming of middle-aged romance between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, in the most unlikely of circumstances.

• Say Anything, a delightful teenage romantic comedy with John Cusack as a young man who fights an uphill battle to win his love.

• Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, two expert companion films by Richard Linklater, about a young man and woman (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in Europe and feel something special has been kindled.

• Annie Hall, the most romantic (and largely truthful) comedy by Woody Allen and his co-star and then-love Diane Keaton.

• Brokeback Mountain, a deeply touching drama of two young men who fall in love, despite the complications and barriers of their backgrounds and cultures.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to go out for the evening, the best choices for Valentine’s night would be the multi-Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, easily the most romantic of this year’s major films. If you’re more daring, and can handle a sad film (even though it details a deep and abiding love), you might try Amour.

If you’ve seen or will see Amour, you should know that its stars are legends of French film, especially the 82-year-old male lead, Jean-Louis Trintignant. He starred in several classic foreign-language films to find audiences in the United States, including Roger Vadim’s … And God Created Woman, Eric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s, the popular race-car romance A Man and a Woman, Costa-Gavras’ political thriller Z, and Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist.

The Oscar-nominated Emmanuelle Riva, meanwhile, found an international audience with Hiroshima, mon Amour in 1959. She’ll turn 86 on Oscar day, Feb. 24.