Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Timothy Dalton and the JAMES BOND Franchise





TIMOTHY DALTON AND THE JAMES BOND FRANCHISE

I am going to start out saying that EON Productions have been lucky in choosing six actors who managed to bring their own sense of style to the role of James Bond . . . and I mean all of them. And all were smart enough to portray Bond in a way that suited them, instead of adhering to what the public or the producers wanted them to play Bond. 

That said, I want to say a few things about Timothy Dalton. Even though I was a major fan of Roger Moore, I realized by the mid-80s that it was time for him to retire from the role. With great fondness, I said adieu and breathlessly anticipated Timothy Dalton's debut in "THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS". And I was not disappointed. The 1987 movie easily became one of my all time favorite Bond films and I became a major fan of Dalton's. Although the drug angle in "LICENSE TO KILL" seemed a little too "MIAMI VICE" for my taste, I still recognized it as a good revenge story that allowed Dalton to take the Bond role to a grittier edge. So, when I heard that he would no longer be playing Bond in the early 90s, I had felt a little disappointed. I had really enjoyed his interpretation of the role and felt that one or two more movies starring him would not hurt. I just was not ready to give up on him as Bond. 

In the past twenty-six years since "LICENSE TO KILL"'s release, I have come to appreciate Dalton's contribution to the Bond franchise even more. Whoever said that he was the right Bond at the wrong time was probably right. The man was ahead of his time . . . not just for the Bond franchise, but for many espionage films. But I feel that his impact upon the franchise has been a lot stronger than many Bond critics would admit. First of all, it seemed very obvious - at least to me - that Dalton' interpretation of Bond may have strongly influenced Daniel Craig's debut as Bond in the 2006 movie, "CASINO ROYALE". It is also possible that Dalton's performance may have influenced his immediate successor, Pierce Brosnan, as well. After all, it seemed apparent to me that Brosnan was not above utilizing Dalton's darker take on Bond, every now and then. 

I also believe that Dalton may have been partially responsible for the influx of edgy, angst-filled spy or action/adventure characters that have emerged over the years. Characters portrayed by the likes of Matt Damon, Matthew Macfadyen, Kiefer Sutherland, Harrison Ford and possibly even Richard Chamberlain and Robert DeNiro. Some directors of action films after 1987 seemed quite willing to shoot their own interpretation of the Tangier hotel scene between Dalton and Maryam D'Abo in "THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS". Similar scenes have appeared in "LICENSE TO KILL", between Dalton and Carey Lowell; Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedalia in "DIE HARD"; Harrison Ford and Allison Doody in "INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE"; Brosnan and Izabella Scorupco in "GOLDENEYE"; Brosnan and Teri Hatcher in"TOMORROW NEVER DIES" and again, with Sophie Marceau in "THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH". Even Matt Damon and Franka Potente got into the game in both "THE BOURNE IDENTITY" and "THE BOURNE SUPREMACY". But no one did it better than Dalton and D'Abo, as far as I'm concerned.

I had read in another Bond forum that Dalton and another actor did not have much an impact upon the Bond franchise as Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Of course I had disagreed. As I had stated earlier, Dalton's impact on the franchise - while not immediate - proved to have a very far reaching impact upon the Bond franchise. And he may have also had an impact on how many action characters would be portrayed over the next decade or two.

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