The Two James Bond Movies That Almost Got Frank Sinatra To Sing Their Theme Songs

Frank Sinatra in Ocean's 11 and Sean Connery in Goldfinger, pictured side-by-side.
(Image credit: Warner Bros/Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

Continuing the celebration of its 60th anniversary, tales of the James Bond movies and their theme songs are still making for good conversation.This is particularly true for those cases where the topic happens to be those 007 songs that almost happened, but never did. Even when compared to the stories that are more well known about rejected Bond themes, the knowledge that Frank Sinatra could have sang two different entries in the James Bond canon is still pretty surprising.

In my interview with director Mat Whitecross on behalf of his documentary The Sound of 007 debuting on Prime Video, there was no shortage of stories that sadly didn’t make the final film. We can all thank the research and interviewing skills that went into putting this doc together for that embarrassment of riches. Whitecross told CinemaBlend that even with his own knowledge base of James Bond music, there were still some surprises to be had:

I came into it thinking I knew a lot, but there was actually a lot I didn’t know. I didn’t know about the fact that Monty Norman has kind of pulled the essential elements of the Bond theme from a Bollywood musical that never saw the light of day. I didn’t know that Frank Sinatra had almost, had come very close, because he was a friend of Cubby’s, to doing You Only Live Twice and Moonraker. I didn’t know that Johnny Cash had written Thunderball originally. Basically part of the film, and then we ended up having to cut it, because we couldn’t afford it. There’s all kinds of things. You don’t spend 60 years writing music for these amazing films without some great stories coming out.

The story of Frank Sinatra almost singing the title song for the fifth entry of Sean Connery’s 007 era theme tunes has made the rounds before. Apparently, while the famous crooner passed on the opportunity to make You Only Live Twice his own, Sinatra wanted daughter Nancy to have the gig. The story of her struggle with that gig is told in The Sound of 007, and the result was a case of nerves so intense that the song had to be stitched together through 25 different recordings.

However, what seems to be the new piece of the puzzle is Mat Whitecross’ revelation that Frank Sinatra would be courted by Albert Broccoli yet again. That second ask would come during the Roger Moore era of 007, on behalf of 1979’s Moonraker. While the versions of the songs we eventually got are more than likely different from what Frank would have collaborated on, Shirley Bassey’s eventual song for this spacefaring Bond movie feels like it would have been a natural fit for Sintatra's style.

That hypothetical scenario only opens the door further to ask whether or not Sinatra’s musical stylings would have fit the musical mold that we’ve come to expect from the James Bond legacy. Though we'll never really have the answer, it's certainly yet another 'what if' that loyal fans will be left to ponder for some time. 

For all we know, the tale of Frank Sinatra’s brushes with 007 is sitting amongst the tons of content that was omitted or cut from Mat Whitecross’ documentary. As he was given the directive to keep the final product at the 90-minute mark, there are a lot of interesting details that The Sound of 007 couldn’t include. That said, Whitecross wasn’t shy about sharing those sorts of tidbits, as well as his hopes of potentially releasing a longer cut in the future. 

If you’re a Daniel Craig-level music superfan, you should definitely check out The Sound of 007 documentary, as well as the companion highlight reel from the Royal Albert Hall concert. A Prime Video subscription is required to enjoy those specials, as well as most of the James Bond adventures, through the world of streaming.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.