I’m reminded of the sequence in one of the Gardner books (they’re all the same to me) where Bond is traveling by plane and the in-flight movie is “The Untouchables.” He decides he likes the actor who plays the Irish cop.
Indeed. Even as critics and some audiences took shots at the films for being repetitive and formulaic, the fact was that whenever Eon veered even slightly out of their usual zone, they took stick for it. To a certain extent, they were the victims of their own success. Though I’d have to categorize myself as largely indifferent to the Craig era, I still marvel at how boldly CR reinvented the formula; in some ways, it was like the other films had never existed and someone bought the rights to the novel to attempt, in the 21st century, the first book-to-screen adaption of Bond, ever. (After that, though, I though they tried to have it both ways, and it never “clicked” for me again).
My grandfather escaped Bond fandom until I showed him TWSLM, MR and OP, all of which he loved. I remember when he saw TLD, he said, “That’s a pitiful excuse for a James Bond.” Although to be fair, he was also a huge fan of Benny Hill, which is why I showed him the Rog entries in the first place. LOL
This is a good point. At the time, Dalton was very much perceived as a fill-in for the guy Eon “really wanted.” Sure, Cubby claimed they wanted Dalton in the first place and only went to Pierce because they couldn’t get Tim, but Cubby was always saying stuff like that (“Fleming wanted Roger,” “I discovered Brit Ekland and Jane Semour,” “This Bond girl is no bimbo,” yadda yadda). Producers are gonna spin.
I’d go even further and say Dalton had to bear some ill will from folks who thought Brosnan was wronged. This attitude was perpetuated by various celebrity magazines, at least here in the States. “Look at poor Pierce, he missed the chance of a lifetime.” I never read an article that blamed Dalton, but I think it’s inevitable some folks would view him as “the guy who took Pierce’s job away.” In fact, if I’m going to be honest, I was at least a half hour into TLD before I stopped thinking, “I wonder how Brosnan would have said that line” or “Brosnan would have looked better in that suit.”
Probably not now, either. There will always be more people who’ve seen the movies than read the books, and the more time passes – and older fans pass on – the more true that will be. Even when people do say, “Oh, this one’s very Flemingesque,” I have to think, “What Fleming books did YOU read?” Especially when they say it about Craig.
I was quite enamored of Dalton after TLD as he was such a revelation to me (even though I’d seen him a few years before in “Flash Gordon,” I never made the connection. That might say something about “star power,” too). But after watching him in a lot of other things, I realized he had his own set of stock mannerisms, quirky facial expressions, calculated deliveries, etc that he applied to multiple roles. Maybe he didn’t lean as hard into them as Roger, and he didn’t seem to be using them to construct a “Timothy Dalton” persona on screen, but they were there. Maybe that undercuts my argument that he always buried himself in his roles?
Well, it certainly is more of a “fill in the blanks” job. In retrospect, we can see that Connery and Young created a lot of what folks think James Bond is “supposed to be.” It turned out well for them, and their successors, but it could just as easily have gone wrong, with a few different choices.