By Steve Vivona
I was very happy when Timothy Dalton assumed the role of James Bond in 1987 and took a back to basics approach to the character. While Roger Moore was a popular Bond I felt he reduced the character to a parody of its former glory. It was obvious from the start Dalton was taking this role very seriously and he went so far as to read the original Fleming novels to get a better grasp on the character.
Originally Pierce Brosnan was tapped for the role but the producers of Remington Steele refused to release him from his contract (we all know what happened later). Dalton was a classicly trained actor who had appeared in such films as "The Lion in Winter" and more recently "Flash Gordon." His Bond made very few wisecracks. He had a brooding intensity and there was an air of danger about him.
James Bond is sent to Czechoslovakia to arrange for the defection of Soviet General Koskov. He succeeds in foiling an apparent assassination attempt and spirits the general out of the country. Koskov reveals that another Soviet General has initiated a plan to eliminate all British secret service agents. Bond is assigned to terminate this general but he discovers that Koskov was lying and wants this general killed because he was about to uncover Koskov's theft of government funds.
Bond enlists the aid of Koskov's jilted girlfriend Kara (Maryam d'Abo) as they attempt to foil Koskov's plan to use the money he has stolen to finance a massive opium sale with a crazed international arms dealer.
"The Living Daylights" was a hit with audiences. It was obvious they accepted Dalton's approach to Bond and saw it as a breath of fresh air. I was always sorry he relinquished the role after only two films. I believe he would have taken the character in interesting new directions (although I am a fan of Pierce Brosnan as Bond.)
The film succeeds largely on Dalton's portrayal. The villains cant really hold a candle to the classic Bond antagonists. It was refreshing to see him monogamous for once (this was a Bond film for the safe sex era) and Dalton displays a sensitivity with women that Bond never had until this point.
MGM's DVD of "The Living Daylights" is another triumph. The documentary on the making of this film is particularly interesting because it documents the first search for a new James Bond in 12 years! Were treated to a rare screen test by none other than Sam Neill (who wasn't bad!) and are shown stills from Brosnan's original test. As usual there are interviews with members of the cast and crew.
There is also an excellent documentary about Bond's creator Ian Fleming which gives fascinating insight into how the character of James Bond was developed. It includes interviews with members of Fleming's family and rare footage of the author discussing how he created Bond.
Also included is a funny deleted scene, A-ha's music video of the title song (as well as a documentary on how that was made!), and several trailers.