The Timothy Dalton Chat Group Presents
The Most Dangerous Bond Ever
Timothy Dalton as James Bond by Adrian Cowdry.
In 1986 at the pre-production stages of The Living Daylights Pierce Brosnan was signed to play James Bond. Unfortunately for him, his contract to play Remington Steele on American television prevented him from entering into Bondage at that time. Unfortunate for Pierce Brosnan; fortunate for us.
When searching to cast the lead role in The Living Daylights, Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli and his wife Dana attended a theatre production in London starring Timothy Dalton. While watching the performance Cubby studied Timothy Dalton and discussed the show with Dana and both came to the conclusion that here was the perfect actor to step into the shoes now vacated by Roger Moore. They went back stage to meet Timothy and the deal was struck. This may be a simplistic view although leaving out a few details this is how Timothy Dalton was picked to play Ian Fleming's hero. When casting the original film Broccoli and his partner Harry Saltzman cast Sean Connery by the way he moved, "catlike". George Lazenby was cast in similar fashion. Roger Moore was cast because he was well known as The Saint and Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders.
Timothy Dalton like Sean Connery and George Lazenby was a relatively unknown actor on the international film stage having played small roles in films such as Flash Gordon and The Lion in Winter and taking the role of Heathcliffe in the remake of Wuthering Heights. He had also made several TV films including Mae West's last acting role in Sextette. His acting was most notable from the theatre and his rise in the ranks of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) being one of their most eminent players.
Before commencing his duties as 007 Timothy Dalton laid down a few ground rules. Dalton, coming from the RSC and as a serious actor did his research well. He went back to the real James Bond, the literary James Bond of Ian Fleming's pages. Bond was lowly paid government agent who happened to enjoy his job more so of the luxuries and danger than the killing and women. Dalton took this to heart and expressed his wishes that if he were to play 007 then it would be on his terms. He is quoted as saying "Roger can climb out of a pocket aeroplane and give a glib remark, I can't". Dalton wanted to explore the darker side of Bond and in his first outing all the signs were good.
The Living Daylights plot centres around an arms dealer trying to rip off the Russian Government and gaining a large amount of opium that would have a street value of half a billion US Dollars. Bond is put onto this through the defection of a KGB officer who is using the British Government to aid his joining up with the despicable arms dealer.
In the famous pre-credit sequence we are introduced to the new James Bond. Three double 0 agents are seen on a Hercules transport aircraft while being briefed by M to go on a training excercise against the SAS on Gibraltar. The three parachute out, one loses on the excercise and one is killed by an assasin posing as a Russian operative. The second double O agent is heard screaming as he falls down the cliff edge. The camera turns to the third agent who shows concern and anger after realisng what has happened, and takes chase after the bad guy. The new James Bond has blasted onto our screens with great dignity and excellent acting skills. This is obvious from the use of his emotions and facial expressions when realisation has dawned and when he is startled by a native monkey.
Dalton's Bond was the exception to all the other actors in the role. He has been criticised as too wooden. This point is null and void when in the scene taken from Fleming's short story at the assassination of Kara Milovy he asks the reasons that the defector has asked for Bond personally to do the job. Bond has always hated killing in cold blood. Through the sniper scope he sees the would be assassin is a woman and that she is not at ease holding a rifle. Nobody could have played this scene as well as Dalton. He drew from the character and exuded the exact tension that came from the short story. He could not play the farce that resulted with Roger Moore, Dalton was wound tight like a snake ready to strike, Connery was relaxed and informal, Lazenby was nonchalant and easygoing and Pierce Brosnan has proved Timothy Dalton was the right choice.
Through the Bond films we have never been treated to the dark side of Bond, for Bond is a licensed killer and this must be a psychological burden for anyone with heart and conscience. In the books, 007 drank and smoked heavily, Dalton himself a smoker carried that on through his portrayal. When not at work you could see that Dalton's Bond would play hard. He would also be the type to defy his superiors without a second thought to the consequences, more of this later.
The final introduction to Dalton's Bond came when he nonchalantly displayed his knowledge of fine wines and foods when bringing a hamper from Harrods to the Russian defector General Georgi Koskov, in the safe house where he is being debriefed. Bond turns up in a new shape Aston Martin the final take-over nod to the previous Bond films.
After the plot thickens with the "kidnapping" of the Russian defector, Bond's only lead is the girl who was to perform the "assassination" of the Koskov. This lead takes Bond to Czechoslovakia and eventually to Kara Milovy who it turns out is in love with Koskov. Bond uses her devotion to Koskov to take her with him across the border to Vienna. Here begins perhaps the most romantic part of the Bond series since On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Dalton slowly woo's Kara into his confidence and the scenes played out are wonderful but just like the character from the books Dalton's mind is on the job. A British agent is killed in Vienna and after the cryptic clue of "Smiert Shpionam" written on a balloon, Dalton has a full portrait shot in the camera and it is plainly obvious that he is furious. This is Bond to a T. Dalton's research has paid off if only for that one five second scene. This is true 007.
Timothy Dalton's one downfall as 007 is his lack of comic talent. He is not a comedian and is not happy delivering the puns and one liners that Roger Moore favoured or the off the cuff remarks that Connery savoured. Dalton is a serious actor and as such should not have had the silly script inclusions. He is better off with tough dialogue or romantic talk. His acting talents could very well be compared to Marlon Brando or Richard Burton, he has an effortless way about his delivery and would only share a joke with a close friend, women are regarded as a thing of wonder and not just recreation. This is certainly where Dalton veers away from the character of the books. Bond's reward in the novels was always the girl and in the films there were usually several girls for Connery, Lazenby and Moore. Dalton did not want that. He wanted to be different and in The Living Daylights after the girl on the boat in the pre-credit sequence he was a one woman man. This of course reflects the social aspect of the time with the safe-sex campaigns and warnings against AIDS. But this also proved his romance. No woman wants to play second fiddle.
In Licence to Kill Dalton has taken Bond one step further into the realms of Fleming adventures.
The Living Daylights had a script that was ready for Pierce Brosnan and had to be changed to favour Timothy Dalton. John Glen the Director took the Bond films in the direction he had started out on, way back when he was second unit director on On Her Majesty's Secret Service with Peter Hunt at the helm. John Glen remained with the Bond series as Editor eventually taking over the helm in 1980 with Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only the first attempt at regaining some of the Fleming aspects in the story line. Roger Moore was more suited to the flippancy of Lewis Gilbert and Guy Hamilton, both of whom had worked with Connery. Hamilton had made the first formula Bond film Goldfinger but returned to make the more comical Diamonds Are Forever and then on to the first two Roger Moore films. Gilbert had made You Only Live Twice the first big set spectacular over the top Bond film and returned to make The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, all three of these films are essentially the same plot. Hamilton's direction still kept many Fleming aspects in check while Gilbert pushed the envelope and favoured the funny bones. John Glen needed a new serious actor and after three outings with Roger Moore and toning the flippancy down in For Your Eyes Only only to return gradually to the full blown A View to a Kill, Glen was able to pursue the more serious line that the arrival of Timothy Dalton signalled.
With Licence to Kill, Bond is first seen trying to attend the wedding of his old CIA pal Felix Leiter when a chance to arrest a if not the major drug baron in South America unfolds. Bond joins Leiter and after capturing the Villain Bond gets Leiter to the church in the nick of time. After a corrupt Drugs Enforcement Agency operative frees Sanchez the villain, Leiter gets severely maimed and his new wife has been killed. Bond is now out for revenge. And Dalton plays this wonderfully.
This is the first film to take Bond away from saving the world or America or defeating some megalomaniac. Here Bond is set in the very real world Dalton plays the part well. He has become a rogue agent blind to all the consequences and disregarding direct orders. On his journey to the head of the drug corporation several friends and colleagues are hurt or killed. This only fuels his anger and blood lust for revenge. This is a direct element from the Ian Fleming novels and certain scenes in Licence to Kill earned it a 15 rating. Bond in Fleming's world was a lowly paid Government agent that exotic things happened to or around him. Dalton managed to defy all criticism and keep on this track. He uses the villains girl to get information with the only means possible but he only uses her. He has eyes for one other an operative that was working secretly with Felix Leiter, Pam Bouvier.
Dalton's Bond relies on his wits and nerves and cunning. In the underwater scene in Licence to Kill where he disrupts the purchasing of drugs between two villainous parties he nearly gets caught until with quick thinking he shoots a spear gun into the floats of a seaplane and water ski's on his feet to disrupt the planes pilot and take control of the aircraft. The look of relief and happiness as he flies off is one unequalled by the other actors who have played 007.
When eventually Bond meets with Sanchez there is a terrific tension between the two, this apparently began when Robert Davi and Timothy Dalton first met in London prior to filming. The two were introduced to each other in the offices of Eon and hit it off right away, they have become good friends since. But in their characters they were like ice and fire. This generated a great atmosphere for the film. With cunning and nerve Bond sows the seeds of doubt in Sanchez's mind as to traitors in his organisation. This leads to Sanchez's downfall and ultimately to the confrontation between he and 007. At the end of the movie Bond sets Sanchez on fire as he was drenched in petrol. The resulting explosion after the death of Sanchez was the tanker where the petrol came from. This had Dalton staggering from the flames. The pyrotechnic technicians on the film assured everybody it would be all right. Timothy Dalton could only see the Director John Glen and his crew. Their reaction scared him the most as they were running from the explosions and Dalton was closer to the fire than they. This was somewhat horrific for Dalton as he realised the flames were not getting any smaller. Consequently this resulted in needing only one take.
Dalton was revered by the stunt crew on the two Bond films he made. Wherever possible he would do his own stunts this resulted in greater tension and more plausible effect. In some scenes taken out of The Living Daylights he is seen on the back of a motorcycle ridden by British stunt rider Eddie Kidd. Dalton did as much of the pillion riding as possible to add greater accuracy.
Dalton's Bond was firmly routed in reality an "existential nihilism" together with the dress sense he was given. For Licence to Kill they wanted to put him in pastel colours, he rejected that idea as Bond was something of a plain dresser wanting to fade into the background he was also British and the British dress sense is to dress down a little. In The Living Daylights he is even put into a three quarter length leather jacket that would be acceptable in any walk of life. That perhaps is the essential description of 007 from the books "able to be accepted in all walks of life", from the spotty youth taxi driver in Thunderball to the realms of high society that comes with being a Commander in the RNVR and having a CMG. Dalton approached the role with that attitude and ended up making two of the best James Bond films in all the series.
In 1995 when the pre-production was due to start Timothy Dalton now good friends and neighbours with the Broccoli's was due to start filming Goldeneye. Cubby Broccoli was happy after the court cases over the video rights to the Bond films, were settled, that Dalton would be stepping back into the shoes of 007 fulfilling his contract. MGM/UA had other ideas.
Licence To Kill had not done well at the American and thus world wide box office. Licence to Kill's downfall could be said to be a number of things. The poor advertising campaign for example. Historically since Diamonds Are Forever the advertising campaign on Bond films has relied on repeat custom. "Its a new Bond movie lets see what he gets up to this time". Or possibly the lack of a megalomaniac out to destroy the world as we know it. Most probably it was because of its gritty realism. Everyone in the movies and politics were fighting drug barons. Bond was historically known for saving the world against super villains like Batman against The Joker, Superman against Lex Luthor. The Bond of the films had become a comic book hero. Bond against Blofeld, Stromberg, Goldfinger et al. Here we had what the Leathal Weapon movies had what the Die Hard movies had, but we had that most extraordinary of heroes the British Government agent. We had the style of the realistic 007.
MGM/UA were on the rocks when it came to finances they hadn't had a blockbuster in a while. The Bond films had ceased five years previous. The box office take on Licence to Kill was poor, the fat cats at MGM/UA put this down to the relatively unknown Timothy Dalton not being well recognised in the US. They wanted someone that was known to US audiences. Timothy Dalton had a contract to fulfil. Cubby Broccoli wanted Timothy Dalton to stay. An ultimatum was put to Eon. No new actor no financing, we want Pierce Brosnan.
Cubby and Timothy discussed this and Dalton gallantly bowed out of the arena. A sad day for Bond fans. Brosnan arrogantly stepped into the role quoting the press saying Dalton was perhaps a little too wooden. Brosnan wanted to explore the dark side of Bond and take Bond into the depths of his character and be on the lines of Sean Connery. To date he has failed. Timothy Dalton so far has been the only actor to have played the real James Bond.
007 IN VIENNA - In the Footsteps of Timothy Dalton's The Living Daylights.
Extracted from the book Only in Vienna - A Guide to Hidden Corners, Little-Known Places and Unusual Objects by Duncan J. D. Smith (Christian Brandstatter Verlag, 2008).
The film 'A View to a Kill' was the 14th in the long running and lucrative James Bond series, based on the spy novels of Ian Fleming. However, by all accounts the film relied more on its gadgetry and special effects than the panache and daring-do of its ageing star Roger Moore. Wisely Moore sipped his last Vodka Martini and retired to a life devoted to charity work and a well-earned knighthood.
Amongst those considered for his replacement were established 'action men' Mel Gibson, Tom Selleck and Don Johnson. Somewhat surprisingly it was the relatively unknown Timothy Dalton who clinched the part. Born in March 1946 in Colwyn Bay, North Wales he had played a variety of roles in films as diverse as The Lion in Winter, Flash Gordon and The Doctor and the Devils. Not being a typecast actor allowed Dalton to play Bond his own way - dark and introspectively.
His first outing was based on Fleming's short story The Living Daylights that had appeared in The Sunday Times on 4th February 1962. Directed by John Glen the film premiered at the Odeon in London's Leicester Square on 27th June 1987, attended by Prince Charles and his then wife Diana. The Austrian premiere (titled Der Hauch des Todes, or Breath of Death) followed on August 13th at Vienna's Gartenbau Kino. This was of special interest to Bond's Austrian audience because much of the first half of the film uses Vienna as a backdrop, both officially and unofficially.
The plot of The Living Daylights dictates that Bond is sent to Bratislava in the former Czechoslovakia to protect a valuable defecting Russian agent and to eliminate a KGB sniper he knows will be waiting there to thwart the escape. The Russian, General Georgi Koskov, is hiding in a concert hall, in reality Vienna's Volksoper ('People's Opera') on Wahringerstrasse, in the city's 9th District of Alsergrund. Bond takes up position above a bookshop across the road, actually a wonderfully old-fashioned sweet shop called 'Zum Sußen Eck' ('the sweet corner') at Wahringerstrasse 65; the shop's window to this day carries photographs of a saturnine-looking Dalton in de rigueur tuxedo and bow tie, taken during filming.
Not surprisingly for a 007 movie, the KGB sniper Bond lines up through the sight of his high-powered rifle turns out to be the beautiful Kara (played by Maryam d'Abo) - and of course he deliberately misses his target! Koskov is duly grabbed and dispatched speedily to the safety of the West in a cylinder sent along a pressurised gas pipeline. This particular scene begins at Vienna's Steinsporenbrucke, a bridge over the New Danube (still dressed up to mimic the Eastern Bloc), and ends at an old gasworks in Vienna's 3rd District of Landstrasse, now really intended to be Vienna.
Meanwhile, Bond and Kara are involved romantically and remain in Bratislava for several scenes shot along Vienna's number 42 tram route, the streets suitably disguised with Skoda cars and Czechoslovakian shop signs (these include the former Wahring tram depot, now a supermarket, and Kara's apartment on Antonigasse). The pair eventually escape in Bond's Aston Martin and cross the border into snowbound Austria using Kara's cello as a sledge! After some fairly schmaltzy scenes visiting Vienna's Schonbrunn palace by horse-drawn carriage (Fiaker) and riding in gondola 10 of the famous Ferris wheel (Riesenrad) in the Volksprater, the film shifts location to Oxfordshire (Stonor Park to be exact), Tangiers in Morocco, and finally to Afghanistan.
Timothy as James Bond and Maryam d'Abo in The Living Daylights in Vienna.
Curiously, few of the Bond biographies, nor indeed many of the city's guidebooks for that matter, make any mention of Vienna as a film location, and indeed few visitors are aware that 007 was ever here. As if to reinforce the point, during the writing of this article a season of Bond films was screened at the aforementioned Gartenbau Kino in Vienna, and again the accompanying promotional material failed to make any reference to the fact that the city had provided much of the backdrop for The Living Daylights.
James Bond returned to the screen in 1988/89 in Licence to Kill (Lizenz zum Toten) but by then Dalton was already beginning to feel typecast and wisely moved on to theatre and television work, as well as the occasional motion picture.
In this writer's mind Timothy Dalton remains the only Bond to have got close to portraying the secret agent that author Fleming had in mind - with all his vulnerabilities and contradictions; he just had the misfortune of coming along at a time when Bond was somewhat out of fashion. Six years later and the baton would be taken up with greater commercial success by the less sombre Pierce Brosnan (for the film Goldeneye), who notably had been considered as a replacement for Roger Moore, but was at the time contracted to his television series Remington Steele.
Pictures above in order are:
Extracted from the book Only in Vienna - A Guide to Hidden Corners, Little-Known Places and Unusual Objects. (c) Copyright by Duncan J. D. Smith (Christian Brandstatter Verlag, 2008). All Rights Reserved.
Text & photographs (except film posters and still). (c) Copyright 2008.
Please visit Duncan's website by clicking on his name here Duncan J D Smith
With a special thank you to Duncan for sharing some of his book and photographs he has taken in Vienna.