The phrase ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, long associated with James Bond, has proved successful enough in the cultural environment to have a life beyond Bond. Ian Fleming used the phrase, or, rather, a version of it, in a letter to fellow author Raymond Chandler in 1956. Fleming suggested that while Chandler's novels were 'sociological studies', his were 'pillow fantasies of the bang-bang, kiss-kiss variety'. Whether Fleming coined the term is uncertain, but it’s possible that the phrase existed in some form before then.
In any case, the phrase became inextricably linked with James Bond during the height of Bondomania in 1964/5. James Bond was known as Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Italian fans (or Japanese fans or the press depending on the account one reads), which inspired John Barry to write a song entitled ‘Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ for Thunderball (1965).
A variant of the phrase appeared in 2005, though away from the world of James Bond – as the title of Shane Black’s comedy thriller, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. Coincidentally, given the origin of the phrase, the titles of Raymond Chandler’s novels and stories are used as chapter headings through the film.
David Leigh, who runs the excellent website, ‘The James Bond Dossier’, recently alerted me to another use of the phrase. Back in the early 1980s, Specimen, a goth band (or what has been described as a glam horror post-punk band – think of The Cure dressed as extras from The Rocky Horror Picture Show), owned and ran the goth club, The Batcave, in London. They played there, too, and one of their songs was called ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’.
As with the Shane Black film, this ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ had nothing to do with Bond, although there are hints of the Bond theme in the baseline and a chord progression. This may be coincidence, but then again, possibly not. Have a look at the video and make up your own mind. The song’s not terrible either.
David has noticed another connection between the Batcave and Bond. Morten Harket, the lead singer of A-ha, who of course wrote the title song for The Living Daylights (1987), can be seen in another video shot at the venue, dancing in glam-goth-inspired attire. Look out for him 5 minutes 35 seconds into the video.
Many thanks to David Leigh for the information.