James Bond: The Dalton Years

Continuing our celebration of the man with a license to kill we look at Timothy Dalton's contribution to the franchise in the Dalton years of Bond...

The Living Daylights (1987)

Bond: Timothy Dalton
Villain: General Koskov played by Jeroen Krabbe

Timothy Dalton had first been offered Bond as far back as 1968 when casting for OHMSS. He turned it down as he felt he was too young, but, at 41, was perhaps the perfect age. In taking over the mantle from Moore he was stepping into very big shoes. For all his ridiculous excesses and camp dialogue, Moore was now Hollywood royalty and would forever define Bond for an entire generation of moviegoers. But things had to change and it was hoped Dalton would freshen up the franchise and bring a return to the Connery style and ethos.

The plot, involving a defecting Russian General and arms trading is distinctly ho hum, but there is a joy watching Dalton bring some acting polish to the proceedings. He was determined to bring Bond back to basics and become more physical and he demonstrates all his attributes and offers a great introduction in the opening title sequence. Wary of distancing the fans of the previous seven films the producers insisted on retaining some daft one-liners and silly humour that had marked the previous incarnation, but it did not fit with Dalton’s style and seemed totally out of place. The tone would change for the next film.

Krabbe as the main villain is lightweight but Maryam d’Abo made for a very distracting Bond girl. It was decided at the time to significantly reduce the presence of the supporting girls and make Bond monogamous, it was the age of AIDS and it was felt that Bond needed to set an example. Again, it jars with the character and is one of the enduring criticisms of the movie. All in all it was a promising start to the new era and never again would we see a 007 who looks like he should be drawing a pension. Bond had been brought up to date.

Memorable scene: Dalton is introduced in a neat pre credits sequence set on the Rock of Gibraltar.

The Living Daylights was a collection of Fleming’s short stories. It would be the last time a Fleming title would be used until Casino Royale in 2006.


Licence To Kill (1989)

Bond: Timothy Dalton
Villain: Sanchez played by Robert Davi

Having established a more serious tone for his take on Bond, the producers went all out with Dalton’s next movie. Licence To Kill would be the most adult adventure yet, the first Bond to receive a 15 certificate thereby cutting out a core audience for 007. LTK was a tough movie. More violent, a tougher, more realistic plot (South American drug cartels) but less humour. An early scene depicting the fate of Felix Lieter’s new bride jars with the style that had always proven successful. Dalton was a good fit for Bond but he was ultimately let down by ill-advised changes to the formula.

This was the era of Rambo, Die Hard and Swarzenegger action movies, Bond was looking dated and was struggling to find its place. Dalton was signed to a three picture deal and perhaps his third outing (like Connery and Moore before him) would be his best yet. We would never know, legal wrangles meant their would be a six year delay until the next film and by then Dalton felt he was too old for the part. So he had gone from being too young to too old, bad timing then would blight Timothy Dalton’s reign.

Memorable scene: Henchman Dario (played by a very young Benicio del Toro in only his second film role) is dispatched in a gruesome manner.

David Hedison portrays Leiter for the second time, a full 16 years after he appeared in Live And Let Die.


James Bond will return as Pierce Brosnan

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