Living Daylights discussion

Hi everyone,

Below is a link to my blog for which I just posted an article on The Living Daylights

Please feel free to discuss. Dalton was my favorite Bond until the second time I had seen Craig in the part as I enjoy the books quite a bit.

First hour has a freshness and a edge to it, an injection of vitality and virility (mostly provided by Dalton). Lots of choice moments like Bond’s reaction to Saunders’ death, Bond’s meeting with Pushkin, etc. Gets a little more standard in the second half, with its convoluted Cold War plot and emphasis on big action and stunts, and becomes much like the earlier 80s Bonds just minus the gags, but it’s very well done.

First time I saw it I loved it. It was one of my top three or four. It’s not anymore, but I’m still fond of it. Thanks for the review.

Thanks for reading it. The first hour has more spy elements for sure and I think all serious Bond fans welcome that. After the pretty standard plot of A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights is pretty refreshing.

Nice review. I prefer LTK, but I think TLD is one of the best balances of fantasy and seriousness in the Bond series. It has a good number of gadgets and set pieces balanced out with Dalton’s intensity. It works really well. And like OHMSS, I appreciate how Bond feels more human - his relationship with Kara being the key example.

The soundtrack is exceptional, too.

1 Like

I enjoyed the review, thanks. You obviously put some time and thought into it.

A few points I wanted to respond to:

I’d never heard complaints Caroline Bliss was too beautiful to be Moneypenny. I think she’s attractive certainly, but no more so than the young Lois Maxwell. She’s not “exotic” or glamorous in the traditional “Bond girl” sense; it’s not like they stuck glasses on Ursula Andress and tried to pass her off as a “nerd.” Then again, Kara Milovy isn’t a conventional Bond girl, either. She’s cute, but in a “girl next door” way. Until Madeline Swann, she’s the most “against type” casting of a Bond girl ever. So maybe people just object to Moneypenny being on equal footing with “the main girl.”

Also, I don’t know that it’s fair to call Lois Maxwell’s replacement “sexist.” Moneypenny’s " character" at this point begins and ends with her flirting with Bond, and that would have been uncomfortable to watch with Lois and Tim, to say the least. Poor Dalton had already been down that road with Mae West in “Sextet.”

Interesting observation that Dalton throws away the “Bond, James Bond” line but plays up the " shaken not stirred" bit. I think it fits with his approach to Bond as Fleming wrote him: not pretentious about who he is but very opinionated about what he wants, and how he wants it. Despite the way the filmic Tiffany Case or Hugo Drax react to the name, there’s no reason for the outside world to know or care who James Bond is, so playing up the intro line is something done for the benefit of us, the audience. It’s breaking the fourth wall. We like it, so we forgive it, but it’s not that different from Oberhauser’s ridiculous reveal that his new name is…tada! that no one else in the film has ever heard, and can only have meaning to the audience. Dalton’s disinterested delivery may be frustrating, but it’s logical. When Roger, for instance, said “My name is Bond, James Bond,” the unspoken part was, “… so the jig is up! " or maybe, “…so you might as well take off that dress right now.” When Dalton says it, the attitude is, " …Not that it would mean anything to you” or “Now let’s can the chit chat so I can do my job.”

I agree the fights are a highlight in the Dalton entries. They’re not as stagey and rehearsed-looking as Roger’s and unlike Craig, Dalton doesn’t come off like a Marvel superhero. He’s very human, not especially “mighty” and not, it seems, a martial arts master. He is ruthless, though, which is key. This again is true to Fleming: Bond in the novels has a slim build, is no muscleman and often has a tough go of it in hand to hand combat. He doesn’t pick up sofas to hit people or crash through drywall in a foot chase.

TLD is always a fun watch. Hard to believe the “25th Anniversary” is now less than the half-way point in the series. Time goes too quickly.


Really good point. It’s a small touch, but it helps make Dalton’s Bond feel less like a myth, and more realistic and grounded.


Thanks for taking the time to read it. I think most Bond films are a bit better in the first half as story lays itself out and we usually do not know where it is going. The second half of the films are often more focused on spectacle. I think TLD also benefits from coming after AVTAK for those, like myself, who saw it in the cinemas.

1 Like

" I prefer LTK, but I think TLD is one of the best balances of fantasy and seriousness in the Bond series."

Thank you. I also prefer LTK, in fact I just re-watched it last night and put my notes down so in a week or two I’ll have that one ready though I think TLD is a bit more general audience friendly. It seems the team really recouped after AVTAK, and were energized by the new Bond. All the John Barry soundtracks are good but his last three I think were among his best.

Thanks to both of you. The ironic thing about this is TLD was the 15th Eon film for the 25th anniversary (as an American I remember the special on ABC with Roger Moore) and in the 30 years since then there have only been nine. However five of those nine are in my top ten and I often say I’d rather see a great Bond film every four years or so than an average one every two.

In the book “The Incredible World of 007” which came out around 1992 there was a remark about Caroline Bliss’ looks. As I mentioned the main issue was she never really gives him any grief but she does prove to be Bond’s guardian angel in LTK.

I agree it would have been a bit out of place to see Lois Maxwell fawning over Dalton (the same book I referenced has an interview with Maxwell where she says the same). There was a line I pulled from my essay for length where I stated that I wish she could have been in the film in some other capacity since all the other Mi6 actors were there (unlike in Goldeneye where everyone except Q was recast).

You make a good point on the reasoning behind Dalton’s understated use of “Bond, James Bond”. His Bond probably suffers from self loathing as the book character does. Whereas when he is ordering his drink he wants to be sure it is created a particular way.

Dalton and Brosnan both had about the right physique for Bond as Fleming wrote him. I’m 6’1 and 168 pounds so I can relate. Craig’s muscular approach, I mentioned in my entry for Casino Royale, works in a different way as he is almost too capable that it makes him overly reckless. But Dalton is probably the most deadly of all the Bonds; more a leopard than a tiger. A few years ago I saw Dalton in an episode of “Chuck” and in his first scene he held a knife to Chuck’s throat and I easily believed he would not hesitate to use it.

1 Like

I remember when Dalton did the shirtless scene in LTK, I thought, “Wow, he looks really anemic for Bond,” but then I thought again…“no he doesn’t.” He’s not as beefy as “Movie Bond” as defined by Connery and Lazenby (even Roger had a big torso…sometimes too big), but he’s spot-on for Bond as Fleming described him. Fleming’s Bond had a daily regimen of…what?..a hot shower followed by a cold one, maybe some push-ups and then 60 cigarettes a day? Let’s face it, this guy was no gym rat.

I suppose Craig’s physique “works” in the sense of presenting a reckless, bull-in-a-China shop newbie agent who has to learn that brawn isn’t the answer to every problem, but as interesting as that is to see it has nothing to do with Fleming’s Bond. I am continually amazed at how many fans insist Craig is the living embodiment of Fleming’s Bond, possibly because of the one throwaway “blunt instrument” line. Fleming’s Bond was not a brawler, and certainly not a bodybuilder. For me, the idea of a guy who’s just magically “ripped” all the time though he never seems to actually go the gym is as unrealistic as a drive through the streets of Venice in a hover-gondola. Plus, there’s a certain narcissism implicit in cultivating “muscles for show” that I can easily imagine Fleming’s Bond delivering an internal monologue against.

On the other hand, I also think that Dalton proved you can’t sell general audiences on a faithful interpretation of Fleming’s Bond without adding something else to the mix; some element of charisma or “screen presence” that’s the life blood of action/adventure films even if it’s not to be found in the Bond of the novels. “Losing yourself in the role” might work with Shakespeare, but with literary Bond, there’s not enough there, there.

Oddly Craig would agree, hes talked about it in regards to difference in his physique between CR and QOS - as just out of the military he went for physically huge, but aimed for something leaner as Bond became more M’s tool and less of a blunt instrument. Though I think the fuss about Craig’s physique is a PR move that they (thankfully) dropped in SPECTRE with no “obligatory shirtless scene”. This article ( shows the difference between the two physiques, but I can’t find the article where Craig and his trainer explain why the training regime was different.

I’d agree with you that Dalton is probably closest of the six actors to how Fleming described Bonds appearance, which is actually incredibly good shape, just look at Dalton opposite other actors, even now (Hot Fuzz and Penny Dreadful spring to mind). Whilst Craig in personality aims for Fleming (and thus is very like Dalton in his performance) I don’t think his physical appearance was every going to be Flemings version - though oddly his appearance in Road To Perdition is very close in many ways.

Except for the titles sequence, where we get to stare at him shirtless at some length.

I guess there are all kinds of ways to “aim for Fleming.” Personally I don’t think of any of the 6 actors when I read Fleming, and I don’t think of Fleming when I see any of them at work. They’re all off the mark in their own way.

oh I forgot the titles…

The cover of this would be the closest to what I view when reading Fleming. If pushed to chose one of 6, Dalton would be closest.

Ditto. As an aside I have no idea where people are coming from when they claim that Dalton was Fleming’s Bond or anything even remotely like Fleming’s creation.

Suppose it depends on which of Flemings characteristics jump out at you (see Moore’s note on Bond that Goldigers opening of how Bond was good at killing but never liked it always stuck with him)

Andy Diggle made a good point when discussing how he writes the comics Bond - Fleming wasn’t necessarily consistent in how he wanted Bond to be, it often being dictated by Flemings feelings at the time, Bond getting more maudlin as Fleming went on generally, but then he’d write a short story on a good day and Bond would be flippant again. Reading The Living Daylights and The Property of A Lady together is when i find that’s most apparent; TLD’s Bond being a more world weary character than the one we meet in TPOL, and they’re in the same collection (though I think written years apart)

1 Like

Overall, I think Bond from Dr No is the closest to Fleming’s Bond, particularly the section with Miss Taro and Professor Dent. He’s a good driver, a cold hearted lover and a cold hearted killer who waits for his prey…while playing cards with himself. That film ticks most of the boxes for me.

1 Like

Autocorrect typo?

A year-and-a-half, actually. The stories were written in this order: TLD, OCT, TPOAL, and then possibly “Reflections in a Carey Cadillac” - the last two were written in close proximity in 1963 between YOLT and TMWTGG.

Yes, I’ve got a new iPad which has a slight tendency to go off base in regards to words and spelling…

I would not have called that in regards to when TPOL was written, as, tonally, it is much (well, for Bond) lighter than Octopussy, YOLT or TMWTGG

I’ve more to add to this, but TLD is a gem and I have three drafts of the script. This was potentially going to be a game changer of the franchise. I’ll get back to this thread over the weekend.

If anyone doesn’t have Charles Helfenstein’s Making of TLD, get yourself a copy. You won’t regret it.

1 Like