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007: Best Of Dalton – The Living Daylights

James Bond, Best Of Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights

To respectfully honour the upcoming release of Spectre, myself and fellow Movie Moron contributor DalmatianJaws have been delving into the Bond catalogue. Due to a recent addition to the family, DJ has now had to hand reviewing duties over to resident Bondaholic Adam Mason. Together we’ll discuss the remaining most critically acclaimed and derided movie of each Bond actor. The Living Daylights is next up, the first Bond movie to feature Timothy Dalton as Bond. Here’s the original trailer:

DNWilliams: Okay, so when I started this with DalmatianJaws we had a little bit of an intro about our relationship with Bond – is there anything you wanted to establish before we dive in?

Adam Mason: I think the first Bond film I ever saw was The Man With The Golden Gun. Once Bond jumped the car through a full flip, I was hooked. Man, viewings of the franchise and readings of the novels over several years have lead me to conclude that Dalton was the best Bond. Not including Skyfall, which makes a valid case for Craig as the finest.

DNW: Dalton is certainly a breath of fresh air in terms of his portrayal. He’s a fairly stark contrast to Roger Moore – especially late Roger Moore – and much more of a return to the kind of character that early Connery felt like, but in a whole new era. He definitely paved the way for Craig.

AM: His style was years ahead of his time, too. He was angry, ruthless and aggressive. Even his one-liners feel like jabs. For people who grew up with Moore’s comic styling, Dalton was probably worlds away from what they were expecting

DNW: I don’t doubt it. What I find really interesting is that Dalton, like Brosnan after him, was next in line for the role of Bond for quite some time, being eyed by the producers long before actually getting the opportunity to play the part. He in fact turned them down feeling he was too young when first considered, which I do think is a shame.

AM: He could have made quite a difference to Octopussy had he stepped in at that point.

DNW: Indeed. I said in the last review, Dalton being in A View To A Kill would have practically fixed that movie for me on its own. Alright, so let’s get into the first film that Dalton was actually in rather than dreaming about what might have been – The Living Daylights.

AM: Dalton’s first effort and it’s a good one, despite being weighed down by a script clearly penned for Roger Moore.

DNW: You think that’s clear? Dalton’s presence is just so different to me that I have a hard time picturing Moore being a part of this production. We start out with a WHOLLY RESPECTABLE opening sequence. And it feels new and different. Not a snowflake in sight.

AM: A realistic training exercise – 00 Section against the bafflingly incompetent SAS. It’s nice how they hide Bond for the first few minutes. His reveal, reacting to the screams of a colleague, is nicely played.

DNW: I love that they keep Bond hidden for a while. It was an effective entrance in Dr No, it was an effective entrance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and it’s no less effective here. On top of that, we don’t even hear Bond speak, it’s just a really strong action sequence. We don’t hear from Bond until he lands on a boat after the lengthy chase, which is when he utters the iconic line “Bond, James Bond.” His delivery of the line alone tells you what kind of Bond Dalton is going to be. He doesn’t milk the line at all.

AM: He spits it out like he doesn’t care, which I love. There’s no pretence there. He’s a man saying a name, nothing to it.

DNW: Exactly, it’s a really offhand remark coming from Dalton’s lips. It’s like he doesn’t feel the weight of the legacy at all, he just owns his version.

AM: Already marking out his style. It’s strange how the only time he looks vaguely uncomfortable is when he’s supposed to be seductive. The bit where the woman on the yacht offers to sleep with him is one of those ‘Moore Moments’ that don’t really translate to the new Bond.

DNW: Well, there’s a sincerity to Dalton that there wasn’t with Moore. When he falls for the Bond girl later, you really buy it. The random dalliances, not so much. For Moore, every relationship struck pretty much the same chord.

AM: He was just flinging his oats about the place. Dalton actually puts effort into achieving his relationships. So, the A-Ha theme tune. I quite like it, myself.

DNW: Not a fan. I don’t much care for the title design either. We’ve reached a point in the series where the opening titles are very by the numbers because the template is adhered to rigidly. There are better title sequences in future movies, but I don’t think any of them really do much that could be considered new until Casino Royale.

AM: I agree with that. Maurice Binder designed the titles for most of the series and clearly ran out of ways to film women in silhouette.

DNW: I’m listening to the A-Ha song again now just to make sure I’m not being unfair to it…but I haven’t changed my mind. It’s like being rickrolled by a Bond movie. This may sound hypocritical coming from a man who praised Duran Duran’s song, but I stand by it.

AM: I like that song, too. There are very few Bond themes I genuinely don’t like, and most of those are the newer ones. Madonna… *shudders*

DNW: Haha, moving on… We have Bond on mission, assisting a KGB defection. Dalton rocks the suit well.

James Bond, Best Of Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights
AM: It fits him like it’s more than just a costume. He looks comfortable in it.

DNW: Yeah. I commented on how Moore looked in a tuxedo in the previous film, and it left a lot to be desired. I hate to keep dragging Moore through the mud in order to praise Dalton, but it’s his own fault for hanging on to the part for as long as he did.

AM: About two films too long. Should have left after ‘For Your Eyes Only’, gone out on a high. The defection scene works well, I feel, Dalton makes a good sniper. There’s something cold in his eyes.

DNW: What I liked most about the whole sequence is that it legitimately feels clandestine. It’s real cloak and dagger stuff, which it sometimes feels absent from the Bond movies. I mean, there’s actually quite a bit of shadowy stealth stuff scattered throughout, but it’s often overshadowed by more explosive sequences, this isn’t. This is a decent blend of the two and a good introduction to our Bond girl.

AM: It is good, and sets up the rest of the film well. This is one of the few films that actually focuses on espionage as a plot point, rather than as a tool for things going boom.

DNW: It also showcases Bond’s utter disregard for the comfort and safety of others when the plan changes and they have to fire the guy through a pipeline in a tin can.

AM: That section is hilarious. I love how Bond forces Koskov into the chute. It’s funny without trying to be funny.

DNW: Yeah, that’s why it’s palatable, it’s incidentally humorous rather than an elaborate gag.

AM: Though it is followed up by the token bra shot of the movie as his ‘man’ on the inside, the large Soviet woman, distracts the pipeline manager by shoving his face into her chest mountains.

DNW: That’s right! I didn’t know quite what to make of that, with the woman they picked to do it they were clearly going for humour over titillation. And I imagine Bond would use the male equivalent of that technique if the mission required it.

AM: Shoving the man’s face into his crotch?!

DNW: For England, Adam.

AM: Of course. By any means. So after that we meet the new Moneypenny, Caroline Bliss. Lovely and young, but weirdly wooden.

James Bond, Best Of Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights
DNW: She’s very, very bland. She’s not Barbara Bach bland, but she’s unremarkable. And she listens to Barry Manilow, I mean that says it all.

AM: No comment.

DNW: Wise man. I’ve already offended Shirley Bassey fans in these reviews!

AM: Haha!

Part 2 (Of 2) >

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4 Comments »

  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    My favourite Bond movie but I do notice things looking at it now, like, why was Necros so determined to hold onto Bond’s shoe? He was surrounded by rope net he could have grabbed…

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  • gd smith said

    Crybaby Bond. There’s a big difference between brooding manly inner angst and making puppy eyes. He’s still better than Brosnan, though. Lacks cool.
    Sometimes I think the people who want the more complex Bond actually want Harry Palmer.

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    • dnwilliams said
      dnwilliams

      I need to re-watch The IPCRESS File now that you mention it! What would you consider a fine example of “brooding manly inner angst” gd smith?

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  • gd smith said

    I was being deliberately ridiculous, but the thing about Dalton is he has legitimate dramatic range and he’s more convincing in the emotional/dialogue scenes than the action scenes. His acting style isn’t cold enough for Bond.
    A big part of action films is the blank canvas style of acting So Bond has to have an element that isn’t “real”. Dalton is a proper actor and fills the blanks in, thus he just isn’t cool.

    Daniel Craig is the best recent Bond because his acting is fairly blank. Interestingly in Skyfall, Bond could almost be an unstoppable killing machine like the Terminator or Micheal Myers. It also reverses the Bond formula. In most Bond films the chases are Bond escaping, in Skyfall all the major chase scenes involve Bond hunting someone down. It also sort of reminded me of the Stallone movie, Nighthawks.

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