Nobody Does Bond Better, 004: The Dangerous Timothy Dalton

dalton-bond-living-daylights-dangerousTimothy Dalton’s unlikely route to Universal Exports was full of twists and turns. He originally turned down the chance to replace Sean Connery for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and was later approached for a second time to replace not Connery but Roger Moore when the time came to film For Your Eyes Only. A majority of the superspy’s fans proved more than satisfied, though, to have Moore remain and make an unusual turn towards a more hard-nosed Bond, but by the time A View to a Kill unspooled in the theaters, it was clear the time had come for a younger successor to lead the James Bond thrillers into the next age. Dalton’s name came up once more, and he was afforded the opportunity to wield the Walther PPK for 1987’s The Living Daylights. Unfortunately, though Dalton was primed now to take on the part, conflicts with his busy schedule led to him refusing the role for the third time, leading producer Albert R. Broccoli to very publicly crown Remington Steele star Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond.

Just as publicly, Eon Productions give him the boot after NBC sought to capitalize on Brosnan’s good fortune by lashing him to an extension of his Steele contract. Refusing to have their new 007 “steele” available to fans for free on the tube, the producers delayed shooting and saw Dalton’s schedule suddenly open up.

Dalton, a fan of the Bond persona originally crafted by Ian Fleming in the novels, finally said yes to becoming the fourth actor to play 007, electrifying fans of the series eager to see a return to the more realistic style of Connery’s From Russia with Love and Moore’s standout effort in FYEO. He was determined to bring back not just the smoking and the drinking, but more of the man and less of the superman. Dalton wanted to reveal the often-conflicted Bond that Fleming brought to the page, a man driven to vices and burdened by the complexities that come with being a patriot—if sometimes a reluctant one—asked again and again to kill without passion, remorse, or personal bias.

The man who can keep all that in check and keep doing his job is a dangerous man. Among other assets, that elusive and all-important quality is what Dalton brought to the table in his two outings as 007.

The Dangerous Timothy Dalton

The Living Daylights; Licence to Kill

There should be little disagreement that the Dalton films have their fair share of shortcomings, but they’re completely unreleated to the Welsh actor’s sterling work in the series. While he went on to have a perfectly respectable career later, John Terry wasn’t able to make a substantial impact as Bond’s CIA ally, Felix Leiter; Caroline Bliss, as Miss Moneypenny, never really got to shape her version of her character, with precious little to do in either of the Dalton installments.

The Dangerous Timothy Dalton 1

Some critics—and more than a few fans—also accuse Dalton of delivering a “humorless” portrayal of Bond. There are plenty of honest comparisons to be made between the Bond stars, but this just isn’t one of them. Dalton was never interested in the “arched eyebrow” approach made famous by Moore. Viewers just weren’t used to the more wry and subtle, but no less effective, sense of humor Dalton brought to Bond.

The two Dalton Bond films are unforgettable, each in their own way, earning the highest marks in many of the series’ various staple requirements, while studiously avoiding many of the sad lows that afflict some of the other actors’ entries. Let’s see just how many of these make a great case that nobody did it better than Dalton:

Best Use of Fleming’s Material

The last Bond movie to use a Fleming title until the 2006 reboot Casino Royale also makes the finest use of the author’s original material, as the short story from which the film takes its name is included (with minor adjustments) in its entirety during the sequence immediately following the main titles. The story of Bond sparing the life of a female assassin, against orders, is brilliantly realized, rich in atmosphere and mood, perfectly setting up the personality of Dalton’s Bond with the line:

“Stuff my orders. I only kill professionals. That girl didn’t know one end of a rifle from the other. Go ahead. Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.”

Honorable mention has to go to a particularly strong moment in LTK, when Bond discovers pal Felix Leiter grievously wounded by a hungry alligator. In a direct nod to the same event in Fleming (that Fleming originally wrote as part of the plot of Live and Let Die), an enraged 007 finds a sardonic note left by the villain on Leiter’s body : “He disagreed with something that ate him.”

Best Story

Thanks to co-scripters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson, TLD not only manages to pay the proper tribute to Fleming by seamlessly working the title story into the main narrative, it also manages to spin perhaps the most complex, adult, and compelling spy story of the entire series. It certainly harks back to the style of FYEO in its approach to realistic (if still charmingly deadly) villains in the form of Koskov and Whitaker; the globe-trotting from Gibraltar-to-Slovakia-to-Austria-to-England-to-Vienna-to-Tangier-to-Afghanistan seems very much motivated by the action and not for the sake of travelogue appeal, as in some of the series’ weaker entries.

And there’s no Bond yarn that carries more unusual resonance today, given our complex entanglements in the Middle East. It’s worth revisiting simply to see how bizarre and disconcerting it is to have the laugh line included at the end when Bond ally Kamran Shah (Art Malik) and his blatantly-armed mujahideen associates have “some trouble at the airport.”

Best Smoking

The Dalton era fell victim to—or rightly adjusted with, depending on how you look at these things—a surge in political correctness during the late 1980s. In addition to reducing the number of Bond’s bedroom partners, by the time Licence to Kill was released, the end credits also included a special disclaimer concerning Bond’s unhealthy smoking habit.

But wouldn’t you know, The Living Daylights also makes the most creative use of 007’s tobacco addiction, as Bond lights up while listening to Koskov relate his phony conspiracy story about Russian general Pushkin to M and other representatives of MI6. After Koskov removes his shoe, Khrushchev-style, and waves it around to put Cold-War-era dread back into the hearts of his rescuers, Bond pushes out a thick stream of smoke with a condescending hiss. Koskov’s blowing a lot of smoke, and Bond shows he knows it. Clever. Artfully clever.

Best Bond Zinger

There are plenty of memorable Bond “zingers” to praise. Long before Arnold Schwarzenegger and Freddy Krueger were spouting gut-busting bon mots after their satisfying kills, we had Sean Connery declaring “Shocking. Positively shocking” after electrocuting a duplicitous sex partner, and Roger Moore pointing a rifle at an enemy’s loins and warning, “Speak now or forever hold your piece.” So many of Bond’s more spot-on quips could be marked easily as his “best,” and most Bond fans don’t need any additional explanation for these (but feel free to visit the comments section and name the films associated with the following Bondian witticisms for extra credit, or hey, just cheat by clicking on the links!):

“She’s had her kicks.”

“Named after your father, perhaps?”

“Keeping the British end up, sir!”

I choose instead to go to a line of Dalton’s, more subtle perhaps, but no less satisfying. In LTK, Bond manages to obtain an interview with drug kingpin Sanchez under the auspices of being a rogue agent looking for a job as a hired gun. Surrounded by loyal flunkies, a suspicious Sanchez tells Bond it can be difficult to find employment, waving his hand around the room to indicate his henchmen. “You have to demonstrate a certain aptitude. A talent others don’t have.”

Bond replies with a smirk: “That shouldn’t be too difficult.”

Speaking of henchmen…

The One That Got Away

Many actors have the misfortune of finding themselves underemployed, or sometimes brutally typecast, after their appearances with 007 (in particular the “Bond girls”), but Benicio del Toro saw his career truly flourish, beginning with his high-profile role in The Usual Suspects. Del Toro has the additional distinction of being the youngest actor ever cast as a bad guy in the Bond saga (he was 21 at the time of shooting LTK). I count myself among the apparent few who thought he made a great Lawrence Talbot!

Best Use of Wayne Newton

Isn’t it true? Bless your hearts.

Best Salute to Fans of the Connery Era

Pedro Armendariz Jr. played the small role of the president of the (fictional) Republic of Isthmus in LTK. Armendariz’ father famously portrayed Bond ally Ali Kerim Bey in From Russia with Love, and courageously completed filming while facing terminal illness.

A close runner-up in this category would belong in the Moore era, courtesy of the character of Quarrel Jr. in Live and Let Die, a nice tip of the hat to Bond’s loyal ally from Dr. No.

Best Bond Crew Cameo

That natty-looking conductor leading Kara Milovy at the end of TLD is none other than longtime 007 music maestro John Barry.

Dalton’s tenure as “the best Bond since Connery” (a common praise that’s truly worn itself out) ended when the still-lively franchise was held hostage to six years of studio-related legal wrangling, leaving the role of Bond open once more and the actor to next claim it holding some very special ties to the series even before he took his first gunbarrel walk for GoldenEye.

Nobody Does Bond Better Will Return With: Pierced Through the Heart

Previous articles: 001: The Connery Craze; 002: George Lazenby, A Model Bond; 003: Moore, Roger Moore

  • Rob in L.A.

    Dalton is my favorite Bond (but since I’m not a huge fan of the series, that’s not saying much). However, it’s my understanding that not many 007 fans liked this actor in the role. Dalton as “the best Bond since Connery” an out-worn phrase? That’s news to me (welcome news)!

    I don’t spend truckloads of time reading 007 fan literature, but most of the articles that I have read mentioning Dalton are usually hyper-critical of his performances. And the most infuriating thing is: they never really say why. It’s just taken as a given that Dalton’s interpretation of the role is self-evidently wanting. I’m left to conclude that Dalton’s jettisoning of Connery’s and Moore’s blithe humor is what turned off so many fans. But it’s precisely this change in the character — along with his films’ grittier milieux — that make me prefer Dalton (that, and I wouldn’t mind looking like him). I’m sorry that he didn’t make more films as 007.

    Finally, I need to put in a good word for one of the big screen’s great undiscovered beauties: Diana Lee-Hsu, the former Playmate who played the small part of a kung-fu-kicking undercover cop in “Licence to Kill” and danced in the movie’s title sequence — but was hardly heard from again. Her character wasn’t a love interest of Bond’s, but if you asked me to name my favorite “Bond girl,” I’d go with her.

  • Allen Hefner

    I guess I am one of those who didn’t appreciate Dalton’s serious side. I think Brosnan brought the role a better balance of fun and bravado.

    Watch Dalton in the final kill scene in LTK. You can see it in his eyes. Waaay to much seriousness. He should have lightened up the moment with a snide remark whilst setting Sanchez on fire. It is supposed to be entertaining, or they wouldn’t have made Anthony Zerbe play a bad guy!

    BTW, Daniel Craig is also a bit too serious. Bond films are too fantastic to be taken seriously. If Craig had been the first film Bond, the entire series would have been different, but Connery set the tone to be followed.

    My ratings so far:
    1. Connery
    2. Brosnan
    3. Lazenby/Moore a tie
    4. Craig, a close call to third
    5. Dalton

    I have never seen the first screen Bond, Barry Nelson, in that role (1954, Casino Royale on TV). I should try to find it.

  • George D. Allen

    Rob in LA, I love your “favorite Bond girl” pick! Allen, I’m hoping you’ll come back when my Brosnan installment goes up and see what you think — his tenure as Bond was really interesting for so many reasons. And, you can easily find Nelson’s turn as “Jimmy” Bond as a special feature on the DVD release of the 1967 “Casino Royale”

  • Tito Pannaggi

    My ratings far including the non-EON stars*:
    1. Sean Connery
    2. George Lazenby
    3. Sean Connery*
    4. Timothy Dalton
    5. David Niven*
    6. Daniel Craig
    7. Pierce Brosnan
    8. Roger Moore
    9. Barry Nelson

    How could one write about James Bond without talking of the ‘original’ star, the one that was copied by Sean Connery? James Bond was a kind of a rip-off from the French films of Eddie Constantine and his role as FBI-agent Lemmy Caution. Those French films were very popular in Europe in the fifhties. Still today are people talking about the great Eddie!

    The first ‘James Bond’ Barry Nelson’s version is on the USA-DVD of ‘Casino Royal’ (1966).

  • Allen Hefner

    OK. I just ordered the 2002 DVD release of the 1967 release of Casino R. Thanks!

    I had forgotten that David Niven played Bond. Add him to my list in a previous comment in #2 position and bump everybody else down. Niven is the very essence of suave.

  • Bond Trader.

    Timothy Dalton was intese. Almost as intense as Daniel Craig. But that was the problem. There really wasn’t much wrong with Timothy Dalton’s interpretation of James Bond. He just had the bad luck of following Roger Moore in the part. And as we all know, Moore was anything but “intense” (to be sure, Moore often seemed downright silly). After Roger Moore, Dalton’s style was perhaps a bit jarring, and, for that reason, difficult to accept. But Dalton also had another problem. He wasn’t naturally comedic. As a result, he appeared slightly uncomfortable whenever he was required to spout a throwaway pun or joke. Pearce Brosnan had no problem in that regard. He was perfectly comfortable with drama and comedy. Whatever the mood required. Still… Would any other Bond actor have been able to do a serious film like “Lisence To Kill” as well as Timothy Dalton? Connery? Lazenby? Brosnan? Nope. Only one other actor could have done it: the current James Bond, Daniel Craig.

  • Rob in L.A.

    I watched “Licence to Kill” again last night, for the first time in a long time, and I think that I noticed another thing that may have (unjustly) alienated Timothy Dalton’s portrayal from avid James Bond fans.

    As the most casual observer of the film series knows, an obligatory moment of each film is when 007 announces himself to someone as “Bond — James Bond.” The scene consistently comes across as a moment of confident coolness, an eagerly awaited announcement that our unflappable, invincible hero has arrived. The moment in the series isn’t so much the character introducing himself as it is a moment of dauntless self-declaration. Do I really need to say anything about how entrenched these three words of film dialogue have become in our popular consciousness?

    But when Dalton says this ultra-important line in “License to Kill,” it’s during an anomalous moment: when he extends his hand in introduction to the movie’s villain. In this film, Bond isn’t so much announcing the arrival of the hero as he is merely making the bad guy’s acquaintance. And then, the villain, Sanchez, blows off Bond by refusing to shake his hand.

    In the other movies, “Bond — James Bond” are strong words of self-assertion. In “Licensce to Kill,” they’re convivial words preceding a snub. I think that the 007 audience was looking forward to this line in the film, but it didn’t get the moment that it had expected.

  • George D. Allen

    Rob in LA, I love your reference to the famous “Bond, James Bond” bit in LTK. The series has had its fair share of poking fun at the line in amusing ways — you made me think of the moment Moore does it, I believe, in “The Spy Who Loved Me.” If I remember correctly, he’s sitting down with Max Kalba to bid on the stolen microfilm, delivering the “My name is Bond, James Bond” line, only to have Kalba turn to him and sneer, “What of it?” I rather missed its presence in “Quantum of Solace,” but the Craig era will be more fully vetted here soon.

  • BadGnx2

    I actually did like Timothy Dalton in the role of Bond. He was a BRILLIANT departure from ANYTHING Roger Moore did.
    However he never truly seemed comfortable in the part. He also had great trouble delivering the sarcastic comments. I kinda got the impression that he was about to “run off somewhere” because his comfort factor was so low.
    But his acting overall was decent, although still not up to the Connery level. And he could handle himself well in the stunts.
    His scenes around women also were something of confusion. He seemed to be UNCOMFORTABLE AROUND WOMEN, TOO. He didn’t have the sexual charisma or attitude of Connery. Even Brosnan had this.

  • George D. Allen

    I dunno about Dalton’s lack of sexual charisma…after all, he even managed to bring out the butch wearing bright green tights in “Flash Gordon” 🙂

  • John

    David Hedison reprised his role as Felix Leiter in LTK,to the pleasure of “Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea” fans everywhere. As for Dalton,his films are a high point in the series.He was more in the style of Connery and Craig,just as Pierce Brosnan was a younger Roger Moore,the former Remington Steele following in the footsteps of the former Simon Templar.Craig will be replaced by a less serious, more suave actor eventually. It’s the way the series swings.

  • Wild Bill

    It’s interesting that very few reviews of the Bond films ever refer to the original books. Obviously, the movies were a significant departure from them, in almost every way, but Ian Fleming’s original description of Bond likened him to Hoagy Carmichael. Now, if anyone has seen Hoagy Carmichael (he was in many movies, but he was the piano player in “To Have And Have Not”), you know that none of the actors who have taken on the Bond role look anything like him. What the screenwriters took was Bond’s elegance, how suave he was, his indulgence in the finer things of life. To that extent, and taking into account the far-fetched escapades in the movies, the best transfer of the Fleming character to the screen was Sean Connery. My top five:

    1. Sean Connery
    2. Pierce Brosnan
    3. Timothy Dalton
    4. George Lazenby
    5. Daniel Craig

    Roger Moore was a good Bond based on the scripts provided him, but he was hard to believe in action sequences; just too big and clumsy. I include Lazenby because I would have like to have seen where he would have taken the character had he made other Bond movies. Craig is ruggedly handsome, as was the book Bond. His seriousness is not a problem for me because Bond was not frivolous in the novels. I have never seen Barry Nelson as Bond, but I am familiar with him from other movies and TV shows. I can’t imagine him making a good James Bond.

  • James Sedares

    In the Fleming books Bond is hard, serious, but he is also knowledgeable about many thing. Such as food, booze, even soap. He is pretty much a snob, even when it comes to women. This is why it always kills me when Daniel Craig’s Bond is asked how he wants his martini. He replies, “Do I look like I give a s%$#t?” Craig is a good actor, but he’s not playing James Bond. He’s playing Jason Bourne.

    It’s also important to remember that Roger Moore was on the original short list to play Bond after Cary Grant and David Niven turned it down. I am very tired of poor Roger being put down for his interpretation of James Bond. He captures some important aspects of the character that only Connery also gets. Connery has the sense of danger and animal magnetism that none of the others possess. He remains the one and only Bond, but Roger Moore does very well, indeed. As for the others, none of them capture the character or the sense of time and place.

  • Marjorie

    Whatever shortcomings Felix and Miss Moneypenny had in TLD, they were more than made up for by LTK’s David Hedison and Carrie Lowell.(My personal favorite bond girl).

    I liked George’s comment about Prince Barin and agree with it whole-heartedly. Although it might be hard to doubt the virility of any man in a role where he aspires to bend the over-sexed, manipulative Princess Aura of Mongo to his will, I just can’t see any of the other Bond-boys pulling it off.

    While I agree that the line “Bond, James Bond” could have been used elsewhere with a more traditional delivery – in LTK the character was interviewing for a job, so delivering the line with that “throwing down the gauntlet” tone at that point would have seemed inappropriate.

    The thing that Dalton’s movies lack that the ones before him had is that campy 60’s & 70’s thing, the gratuitous sex, the [mostly] unbelievable fight scenes [Sean’s judo chop?, Roger Moore vs. jaws? twice, even?], the super-cheesy one-liners that effectively dispel any sense of drama the film might manage to create, the cartoon villains [Jaws, Fatima Blush, Lotte Lenya with her little poison tipped shoe spear (definitely the weapon I’d pick if I was less than 5 ft tall and likely to have the shortest legs in the cast], the overly silly female names.

    And the newer movies seem to be too intense and dark, and the action scenes are too extreme.

  • George D. Allen

    James — your observation about Craig’s martini line is something I need to remember to talk about when it comes to the Craig entry (because I have a very definite response about that). And thanks, Marjorie — nice to hear from another “Flash Gordon” fan!

  • Dave Manning

    There never was, nor never will be again, a Bond like Sean Connery. All of them have been good, and Pierce Brosnan was second, but Connery was and is the best. Never say never, yes?

  • Steve in Sedona

    Pierce Brosnan was a waste – no more than a pretty boy. Dalton was much better.

    My personal choice would have been Jason Isaacs. Forget his portrayal of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, and watch his sadistic British officer in “The Patriot.” He would have been the best Bond since Connery.

  • George D. Allen

    It might be interesting to do a future appraisal of all the Bonds that “could’ve been.” Before Craig was cast, I was pretty certain Clive Owen was a sure bet, and I think he would have turned out well, too.

  • Rob in L.A.

    @Steve in Sedona ~ Jason Isaacs plays a Bond-ish role in “The Tuxedo,” starring Jackie Chan. It’s not a particularly good movie, and Isaacs is only on the screen for a short time, but if you ever want to get a good idea of what he would be like doing the shaken-not-stirred thing, you might want to check it out.

  • Steve Fortes

    The three witticisms are from “From Russia With Love”, “Diamonds Are Forever” & “The Spy Who Loved Me”.

    I agree with the assesment that Timothy Dalton got a bum rap. Watching his Bond was like being dunked in cold water after having watched the Roger Moore warm water romps. Like Daniel Craig’s interpretation you can just feel that his Bond is deadly and not to be fooled with. As my wife said upon her first viewing of him, “When he smiles, it never reaches his eyes.” I especially enjoyed in TLD his inital meeting with co-agent Saunders and how their relationship changes during the course of the film so that when Saunders is killed on the orders of Koskov his comment to Kara carries the threat that not only did he get the message but somebody is going to pay for it. I also enjoyed in LTK his reaction when he finds Della. You can almost read on his face that he’s reliving the death of his own wife Tracy. It would have been nice if he had been able to continue in the role. For the most part, the way Bond is written in Goldeneye would have fit him like a glove.

  • Joseph Imhoff

    I saw “Dr. No’ at a drivein as the second billed movie after “55 Days at Peking”, it sounded like one of trashy movies of the time. I had not read the books, but George Lazenby seems to be the best repesentative of the person described in the books. Connery was great, Dalton comes in second, Moore comes across as buffoon. Craig just seems remote. I’ll vote for Woody Allen in the first ‘Casino Royale’, and Ursula Andress, Jacquiline Bisset.

  • llsee

    I thought I was among the few that actually liked Timothy Dalton as 007. Of course it is always hard to compare any actor to the one who created the role, which is probably why Connery always tops the list. Well Dalton was my number 2 on the list until Daniel Craig. I had my doubts about Craig when he was cast as Bond. Then i saw him in “Layer Cake”, and thought maybe he wasn’t so bad. Now after two installments, Craig is the best Bond since Connery.

  • Anne

    Timothy Dalton is my favorite Bond, mainly because I find him to be the handsomest. I never thought that Connery was handsome, and the others were quite ordinary, in my estimation. I enjoyed the Bond films for the villains , mainly, not the actor who was playing Bond, until Dalton.

    I was really hoping that the guy who is in the “Transporter” franchise would get the nod…I would have loved him as Bond because he looks like a thug, which, as I understand, was Fleming’s description of him.

  • George D. Allen

    Steve F, I enjoy your analysis of the scene w/Dalton finding Della. It’s well set up because Leiter, Della, and Bond have that awkward encounter about Tracy earlier, and your wife’s appraisal of Dalton is true genius; Joseph I, a agree about Lazenby’s resemblance to the literary ideal (although with Fleming believing David Niven should’ve been Bond, I guess he’d disagree); Ilsee, the movie that convinced me Craig would deliver was “Munich,” a terrific Spielberg movie if you haven’t seen it; Anne, fear not, Jason Statham is taking over another big role. Well, it’s less famous, but more blasphemous, in my opinion. He’ll be stepping into the shoes of Charles Bronson in (what I think is) the ill-advised remake of “The Mechanic.”

  • Steve in Sedona

    How about: Andrew Dice Clay as Bond?

    I can see it now: “Bond. James @#$%ing Bond.”

    • Bruce Reber

      Sorry, but no “Dice”! (pun intended).

  • Kenneth Morgan

    Personally, I thought Dalton was fine as Bond and was, until Daniel Craig, the actor who was the closest to the Bond of the books. In the original novels, Bond was a very troubled man. The Bond of the movies, while a great character, was more the creation of director Terrence Young, screenwriter Richard Maibaum and Sean Connery than Ian Fleming.

  • Raif Damico

    We finally have some people refering to the Bond books in their ranking Bond.Sean is the best..period. But Dalton is better than pretty boys Moore and Brosnan.It would have been interesting to see what Lazenby would have done in more opportunities.Craig seems to be on the right track.

  • Jerry Ahern

    The Bond films hit when I was a teenager. I saw every one of the films, in those days, multiple times. I read the books and enjoyed them. The two best Bond films are “From Russia With Love” and “The Living Daylights.” Although it sounds heretical, and I’m a great fan of Sean Connery, I really must say that Dalton was the best James Bond. I heard an interview with the late Desmond Llewelyn and he remarked that Dalton was closest to the Bond found in the books. I agree.

  • George D. Allen

    And who would ever question Q? “Oh, grow up, 007!”

  • michael jefferson

    To me, Sean Connery was the proto-typical Bond, and I would put Pierce Brosnan into second place, but I do believe that George Lazenby should have been given another chance, because he was quite good in OHMSS. As for my favorite “Bond Women”, I have to go with Connery’s love interest in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, then Isabella Schiripco (sic) in GOLDENEYE.

  • Max Gantt

    Sorry guys…there is only one James Bond, the first one…the rest are all pretenders. Connery is James Bond.

    • MGM555

      The movie producers shaped the young Sean Connery into a James Bond. Whereas, Timothy Dalton shaped the movie production back into Flemings James Bond.

  • Butch Knouse

    Dalton got to speak one of the best Bond lines ever in License to Kill.

    “Compliments of Sharkey!”

  • Tom

    I welcomed the contrast in styles when Dalton replaced Moore because I hated everything about the Moore movies except the girls. Dalton returned the sense of menace that Connery brought to the role, and his movies came back to earth as well. While not as realistic as the finest Bond film ever — From Russia With Love — they offered relatively plausible conflicts, villains, and resolutions. Better yet, neither TLD or LTK required its hero to save the world. Far too many franchise movies seek to appear “bigger” by putting life as we know it in jeapordy. Not only is this kind of histrionic plotting unneccesary, but it is usually counterproductive. for me, Dalton was much closer to Connery’s interpretation of Bond, and that will always be the gold standard. When he left, I couldn’t believe the producers chose the star of a Television spoof of Bond. Pierce Brosnan was an insult. I like Daniel Craig, but I have to agree that he is not playing Bond, not the Bond I know anyway. Ultimately, James Bond is an anachronism which cannot really exist in this era of politically correct pablum. Imagine Connery sneaking into dark rooms to have midnight chats about his psyche with M — not!

  • Charles H

    Steve Fortes — I like your observation of placing Dalton in “Goldeneye”. I haven’t tried to picture Dalton in the Brosnan-era movies, but I have to say, since reading your comment regarding that, I agree completely. I think Dalton’s Bond would have fit the tone of Goldeneye very well. I see Dalton’s Bond (his interpretation) differently now.

  • Kirk

    I’ve been a defender of Dalton as 007 since I saw LD in ’87. The accusation of Dalton as too “serious” as Bond, I don’t take too seriously. As I recall, Fleming’s Bond was an arrogant, mostly humorless bastard. This is why I’m such a big fan of Dalton. He in my eyes was the “Literary” Bond put on screen. I feel the same in regards to Craig’s 007. Connery,Craig & Dalton are my top three Bonds, for the same reason: They embraced their inner cold blooded bastard when portraying 007.

  • George D. Allen

    Kirk, clearly you are a true Bond fan! Thanks for your remarks here & on the Moore & Brosnan entries. You will want to return along with Bond soon when I get to the Craig entry…

  • chris

    I like Dalton as Bond quite a bit. Back to the hard edged character more reflective of the novels. Unfortunetly, Americans didn’t really care for him. Go to imdb and look at the grosses for The Living Daylights and License to Kill and you’ll see that the rest of the world loved him.

  • David L.

    Yes, Sean Connery was the first–and perhaps potentially best–Bond, but he really didn’t capture the true essence of the character, as devised by his superiors, who rendered him a bit
    stiff, although I very much like Connery as an actor. Roger Moore was plain lousy and never should have been chosen to play Bond. He was great
    as “The Saint”, though. George Lazenby screwed up
    and should’ve tried harder to continue playing Bond, but he was the worst actor to portray him.
    Pierce Brosnan was great as a Russian James Bond in “The Fourth Protocol” and I had high hopes for
    him as Bond, but he became unappealing after his
    first–and good–“Goldeneye” flick. Don’t get me
    wrong: Brosnan is a good actor, but the movies were bloody awful and too complicated for enjoyment factor.
    Daniel Craig is a helluva actor and I like his
    physicality as Bond, but the powers that be have
    made him react unlike the book character. James
    Bond detested killing in cold blood and would never have killed the unarmed bad guy like they
    had Craig do in Casino Royale in the beginning
    sequence. Othewise, he’s doing a good job as the first blonde Bond–but he looks nothing like the
    Which leaves Tim Dalton, my favorite Bond. He was
    interested in preserving Ian Fleming’s concept and
    faithfully created a Bond true to the books. However, by the time Dalton took over Bond, he was
    aging and the second movie really showed that his
    future as Bond was over. For what it’s worth, there have been few Bond movies that stayed true to the books, and some of the plots are just god-
    awful. Endit.

  • Nick Johansen

    When i first saw Dalton’s films, I thought he was good. No more, no
    less. Connery, at the time, was still my favorite. The only one I wasn’t
    wowed by was George Lazenby, but even he wasn’t terrible. Then, by
    chance, a friend of mine traveled to California and while out there, bought
    me the entire collection of Fleming’s James Bond novels. I started with
    the first book (Though I wanted to start with “Thunderball”. my
    favorite Bond film of the time) And went in sequence. Then I discovered
    the other novels, Gardner’s, Benson’s. I got Sebastian Foulkes’ one-off,
    and paid a pretty penny for “Colonel Sun”, by Kingsley Amis. Around
    this time as well, They released the digitally remastered collections,
    and I got those one at a time. Much like the novels, I went film by

    By the time I’d finished, I was struck by how badly I’d misjudged
    Timothy Dalton. I didn’t think he was terrible by any stretch the first
    time around, but after Connery and Roger Moore, his take was just so
    different. He showed emotion. The girl didn’t immediately get naked for
    him. What’s going on here?

    His take was so close to Fleming’s writing that it’s remarkable, and
    it’s a shame Fleming couldn’t have been around to see him. Dalton’s Bond
    truly was Ian Fleming’s James Bond. It was the only glimpse we saw of
    Bond that showed his true nature. Sure he did the job, and sure he liked
    the excitement, but he hated it at the same time. He is pitch perfect
    in the scene where he tells Saunders to tell M he didn’t follow orders,
    and would be glad if M fired him. He completely sells a man that’s
    burned out, which is an incredible acting achievement since by that
    time, he’s only been playing the role for about 20 minutes of screen

    Connery was excellent, but after “From Russia With Love”, the series
    concentrated more and more on Bond’s jet-setting lifestyle and the
    gadgets. Who cares that he’s killing person after person, look at how
    great this lifestyle is!

    Dalton didn’t make Bond more than he was. A man who knew he had a
    duty, but made no qualms about the fact that he was living for today
    because he could die tomorrow. Who drank and smoked constantly to wash
    out the poison he felt in his system.

    Those that say Dalton isn’t good with the ladies needs only watch his
    interplay with Maryam D’Abo in TLD. He goes from seeing her only as a
    piece of a puzzle, to exasperation, to admiration, to real fondness. You
    can see how much he’s grown to care for her in his final line. “You
    don’t think I’d miss THIS performance, did you?”

    Also, Dalton is the best ACTOR to play James Bond. We see the depth
    because Dalton hits all the right notes. The scene between himself and
    Pushkin in TLD is the best scene in any Bond film. Period. They even
    borrowed elements of it for Daniel Craig’s introduction in “Casino
    Royale”. The reaction to Saunders’ death, pitch perfect. He completely
    shows the continued impact Tracy’s death still has on him in one line in
    “Licence to Kill, and the emotion he conveys in “Licence to Kill” when
    he’s going through Leiter’s house in the aftermath of Sanchez maiming
    him and killing Della is better than Roger Moore’s performance in all
    the Bond films combined. Not only has the man who he probably considers
    his best friend been nearly killed, but that man now shares the same
    tragedy of losing his wife on his wedding day.

    And finally, he brought the danger back. His was the first Bond
    performance in 20 years that made you fear the man. Sure he had the
    prerequisite gadgets, but it didn’t feel like he absolutely needed them
    to survive. And look at the final 30 minutes or so of LTK. Bond destroys
    an entire drug set-up, several henchmen, 20 tons of cocaine, and
    Sanchez with nothing more than a flaming beaker of gasoline, a tanker
    truck, a cropduster, and a lighter.

    Connery and Craig are great. Roger Moore was fun. Brosnan was good
    and Lazenby was at least decent. But Dalton has taken the place of my
    number one James Bond. He’s the definitive Fleming Bond.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Nick, thanks for the great Dalton critique; I would have a hard time saying he’s the “best actor” to play Bond, but I get what you mean; I would agree that he’s the closest to the book Bond (Craig, I think, runs neck-and-neck but for the fact that, apart from “Casino Royale,” his scripts haven’t had the benefit of a great deal of Fleming material). I just watched TLD again this past weekend because a friend just getting into the 007 movies (he’s very late) hadn’t yet seen either Dalton. In my pile of as-yet-unread books I have “Carte Blanche” waiting. Maybe you’d be interested in the audiobooks that are coming out; I’m curious to hear Rosamund Pike read “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

  • Bruce Reber

    Re: Bond witticisms – “She’s had her kicks!” from “Russia With Love”, “Keeping the British end up sir!” from “Moonraker”, and since I didn’t want to cheat on “Named after your father perhaps?”, I’m guessing “Live And Let Die”.

    • chasbutterfield

      It was Sean Connery saying to Plenty O’Toole in “Diamonds Are Forever”….”Named after your FATHER, perhaps?…”…..

      • Bruce Reber

        Sorry, I should have known that, being a reasonably avid Bondfan. It’s been a while since I’ve seen DAF.

  • Mayka

    Finally I see some great movie fans, with a great knowledge of films, agreeing with me on that Mr. Dalton was the best James Bond. He is a great actor, that maybe has not been too lucky with his films, but you can see he has theatre roots. I hope we can see more of Mr. Dalton in some good coming films.

  • Dana Thompson

    I loved Timothy Dalton in the made for TV Scarlett movie, what a role to try and fill after Clark Cable played the original Rhett and I must say, Mr. Dalton filled the bill

  • Al Hooper

    “The Living Daylights” was by far the best of the James Bond films, and just about the only one that passes muster as an entertainment for grown-ups. – Al Hooper (E-HOOPER.COM)

  • jan

    Dalton never was and never will be James Bond.

  • Yves Fey

    I was already a Dalton fan when he became Bond. I loved him in it because he was more intense and serious. the reviews were totally bewildering to me. Connery is still my favorite Bond. I think his irony offsets the unreality of the whole Bond rigamarole, and that Dalton is a little too powerful in the part, showing up the thinness of the world. I loathed Roger Moore. Brosnan was too fluffy for me. I love Daniel Craig in the new ones and like the evolution of the series.

  • John

    Dalton was the best “other James Bond” after Sean Connery. His stature, facial expressions, voice and overall performance made it all work.

  • Gord Jackson

    I personally quite liked Timothy Dalton’s James Bond because he did bring a more serious tone to it. To me, Moore was a buffoon and Brosnan, while trying very hard just didn’t cut it. Had he not be such an ass, I think George Lazenby would have grown into the role, but he was foolish and immature with his negative comments about the enterprise thus leaving him persona non grata for any future Bond entries. Of course I have a sentimental fondness for first Bond Sean Connery, but I think Lazenby could have improved upon Connery’s take with Timothy Dalton probably having the most (Ian Fleming) accurate interrpretation of all. As for Daniel Craig, I don’t really have any strong feelings one way or the other. He’s a tough Bond to be sure, but not really Ian Fleming’s Bond if that is the intent.

  • rocky-o

    even though sean will always hold a place in my heart, having seen the first ‘proper’ film, ‘Dr. No’, in the theatre when it first came out, i also was a big fan of the ian fleming novels, and timothy dalton certainly displays best what fleming wrote…and ‘licence to kill’ is without a doubt my favorite bond film…