Sunday, July 14, 2013
LIVING DAYLIGHTS, THE
(June 1987, U.S.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to bring you the return of the great James Bond double feature! The last time this happened was GOLDENEYE (1995) and GOLDFINGER (1964). Now it's LIVE AND LET DIE (1973) and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. Seriously, you just gotta love this shit!
When I posted my blog for LICENCE TO KILL (1989) some time ago, I reserved much of my opinions and observations of Timothy Dalton's takeover of the legendary character because I specifically wanted to hold out for what was his premiere performance in the role. Although back in 1985 I seem to recall A VIEW TO A KILL being a somewhat popular film with fans, it seems that in retrospect, it generally failed at the box office and as a longstanding example in the Bond franchise. Roger Moore was now out as Bond after twelve years, the reasons being dependent on whom you'd ask; Moore or United Artists. Anyway, the search for the new James Bond was underway and the only reason we didn't see Pierce Brosnan in the role much earlier was due to his commitments to TV's "Remington Steele" (a show I've never seen). So...enter Timothy Dalton. Who the fuck was Timothy Dalton?? I'd never heard of the guy, despite a rather extensive career up to that point. Had I remembered the totally cheesy 1980 film of FLASH GORDON, I might have remembered him as Prince Barin, but alas...no. I was about to learn, though, that unknowns in familiar roles are sometimes a great blessing. But I'll get a little deeper into that later.
The film's title was the last one to use the title of an Ian Fleming story until the 2006 film of CASINO ROYALE. The opening sequence of the film resembles Fleming's short story, in which James Bond acts as a counter-sniper to protect a Soviet defector, Georgi Koskov (played by Jeroen Krabbé). He tells Bond and the heads of MI6 that General Pushkin (played by John Rhys-Davies), head of the KGB, is systematically killing off British and American agents. When Koskov is seemingly snatched back only hours after his defection, Bond follows him across Europe, Morocco and Afghanistan to uncover the truth. Along the way he teams up with and falls for Russian cellist Kara Milovy (played by Maryam d'Abo) who's also Koskov's girlfriend. I might add, at this point, that this is the last Bond film to make a point and storyline of the Cold War still in existence at the time. This is also the only Bond film where the so-called "super-villain" is not particularly clear. We have Koskov and his American partner in arms dealing and narcotics, Brad Whitaker (played by Joe Don Baker), a fanatical and self-styled general who's character comes off as a combination of George S. Patton and Napoleon. Both men are clearly the bad guys here, but neither one of them is truly identified as head of any evil organization, domination or plot. And like most other Bond films, the formula is still packed perfectly with all the charm, action, thrills and suspense you're come to expect from the franchise, and lets also not forget the return of a great new version of the Aston Marin! Only now, after nearly two decades of Roger Moore's rather "extra British" style of fun, Dalton shows us a darker, more serious James Bond; a Bond whose anger is very clear and whose dark side you very likely don't want to be a part of. And yet, unlike Daniel Craig, Dalton knows when to put an irresistible smile on his face once in a while. It's a shame that he made only two Bond films, because I rather preferred him a great deal over Pierce Brosnan, who while making a great Bond debut, failed to truly keep the character where he belonged in films that followed. Sadly, though, this is also the last James Bond film to feature the great quintessential music of John Barry, something I still truly miss from the franchise even today.
Interestingly, the debate of who is the best James Bond and why is one that can likely tangle up the minds and opinions of fans for years to come. Myself, I don't always find myself considering the period of Bond films by who played the character at the time, but rather the era in which many of them were made. In this particular situation, that is, the James Bond films of the 1980s, I don't pay too much attention to either Moore or Dalton, but rather I find myself considering this time being the John Glen era of Bond films. Consider for just a moment; all Bond films during the 1980s were directed by the same man, John Glen, and it's impossible not to consider and appreciate the changing times the man must have had to take into account to try and keep Bond as up-to-date as possible with modern times and modern audiences. For the first year of the 1980s with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981), Bond was still practically coming off of the tail end of an era dominated by disco music and the flashy excess of Lewis Gilbert's previous two film efforts (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER). It's almost no wonder Glen felt the urge to completely start over and bring Bond back to a much simpler level. By 1989, the same director was taking on a new Bond in a new period of a decade that had seen the years of Ronald Reagan, MTV, the Aids disease and the beginnings of the end of the Soviet Union. In a ten year period, Bond had to change and so did his film makers. This is why I always take into consideration, the "John Glen" period of James Bond film. Think about it. It does make sense. As for THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, it may less popular than other choices by fans more serious than myself about their Bond films, but I personally consider it one of my top five favorite Bond films of all time. That's a pretty heavy honor, I'm sure, but I feel it deserves it.
Wonder what Richard K. thinks??
Favorite line or dialogue:
Linda (into the phone on her yacht): "It's all so boring here, Margo. There's nothing but playboys and tennis pros. If only I could find a real man."
(James Bond suddenly lands on the boat with a smoldering parachute)
James Bond: "I need to use your phone." (grabs the phone) "She'll call you back."
Linda: "You are who?"
James: "Bond, James Bond." (into the phone) "Exercise Control, 007 here. I'll report in an hour."
Linda (offering a drink): "Won't you join me?"
James (into the phone): "Better make that two."
Yes! That's the James Bond I know and love!