“We have all the time in the world.”
When James Bond (Daniel Craig) says that line to Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) nine minutes into “No Time to Die,” it may not mean much to the average moviegoer. But to Bond fans worldwide, it’s one of the most important in the history of the franchise, and a subtle hint of possible tragedy to come.
For “We have all the time in the world” is not just the key line in the screenplay of 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” it’s the title of the song performed in the mid-section of that movie by jazz great Louis Armstrong, derived from British composer John Barry’s love theme for the film.
Now, that memorable music from 52 years ago has been interpolated into the latest 007 epic no fewer than three times. The melody is heard in Hans Zimmer’s “No Time to Die” underscore right after Craig says the line in the pre-credits sequence. It returns in another, moving scene, near the end of the film — and the full, original Armstrong vocal then plays under the film’s end credits.
It’s startling enough to hear Craig utter that line, as it sets off alarm bells in the mind of any dyed-in-the-wool Bond buff. In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” it is the final line of dialogue, said by 007 (George Lazenby) moments after Blofeld murders Tracy (Diana Rigg), the British agent’s new wife, as they set off on their honeymoon.
There’s yet another callback to the 1969 film in Zimmer’s score, beyond the repeated use of “We Have All the Time in the World.” Bond aficionados will recognize that Zimmer has also added a reference to Barry’s all-instrumental title theme from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” a march signifying 007’s association with the Secret Service, during a scene in which Bond converses with M (Ralph Fiennes) about the danger posed by a lethal DNA-based weapon.
Insiders say the use of “We Have All the Time in the World” in the new film was decided early on as a callback to Bond from an earlier era. And as the film goes into the end credits, instead of a reprise of the Billie Eilish title song — which, with its theme of love and betrayal, fits nicely with the opening titles but might not be the right mood for exit music — we get the classic Armstrong vocal. Later in the credits, the Eilish song does return, but in a version with the pop star humming the tune instead of singing it.
John Barry, who died in 2011, is considered the architect of Bond’s musical style. He arranged the original “James Bond Theme,” giving it a dynamic, dangerous sound, and went on to score 11 of the films, including such Sean Connery gems as “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball,” Roger Moore’s “Octopussy” and “A View to a Kill,” Timothy Dalton’s “The Living Daylights” and, of course, Lazenby’s sole outing in “OHMSS.”
Many Bond fans consider “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (despite the absence of Connery) one of the greatest of all 007 films, and Barry’s score one of the strongest. The love theme is gorgeous, and lyricist Hal David drew his title and inspiration from the line in Ian Fleming’s original 1963 novel. Armstrong’s voice lent a world-weary quality to the song, and Barry’s final, string-drenched instrumental of the tune sent audiences out of the theater in tears.
Coincidentally (or maybe not) “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” finds Bond resigning from the service, and snippets of music from “Dr. No,” “From Russia With Love” and “Thunderball” play while he cleans out his desk. So quoting music from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” brings things full circle in “No Time to Die.”
Ironically, audiences watching “No Time to Die” will actually hear more of the Armstrong song than they did in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” where it graced a montage of Bond and Tracy falling in love but was trimmed to only about two minutes.
Effectively ignored at the time of its 1969 release, “We Have All the Time in the World” never charted in either the U.S. or U.K. But its use a quarter-century later in a Guinness beer commercial sent it to No. 3 on the U.K. singles chart, and it is today considered one of the greatest songs in the history of Bond.