Roger Moore confirmed he wouldn’t be returning to the lead role (a lot of the criticism directed at A View To A Kill had centred around his age - he was 57 when he made it). Producer Cubby Broccoli, his stepson and co-producer Wilson and daughter Barbara (promoted to assistant producer) therefore had to find a new Bond and also decide what direction to move the series in.
Early plans were to make a prequel. A screenplay, going back to Bond’s roots, was written that Broccoli liked but felt wasn’t right - “no-one would be interested in a younger Bond,” he said at the time, “they wanted what they were used to, just bigger and better.” He did, however, like the re-introduction of the Soviet assassination section SMERSH (featured prominently in the novels Casino Royale and From Russia With Love) and the concept of Smert Shpionam ('Death to Spies'). This tied in with the short story The Living Daylights (wherein Bond acts as a sniper to protect a Soviet defector), which was originally published in the first issue of The Sunday Times Magazine in February 1962. Building around that (it forms the first 15 minutes or so of the film), Maibaum and Wilson created the rest and, in keeping with changing public opinion, made Bond less of a womaniser than he was before. As they wrote, the search for the new Bond began in 1986.
Sam Neill was screen-tested and though he impressed Wilson, director John Glen and Barbara Broccoli, Cubby passed, keen to pursue Welsh-born Timothy Dalton. He’d originally been considered in the 60s, when Sean Connery left though he turned down the part in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) as he thought he was too young. He tested again before Live And Let Die (1973) and, with Roger Moore being indecisive, For Your Eyes Only (1981) and was well liked but unavailable, now in America making Brenda Starr (1989). The next option was Pierce Brosnan, who Cubby had met on the set of For Your Eyes Only, when he joined his wife Cassandra Harris and Broccoli for lunch (she played Countess Lisl in the film). In the meantime, Brosnan had landed the lead role in the TV series Remington Steele which, in 1986, had just been cancelled by NBC. After a three-day screen test, Brosnan was offered the role but news of EON’s interest in the actor prompted NBC to renew the show and Brosnan, under contract, had no choice but to finish the last series (as it was, only six episodes were made before it was cancelled for good) - he was “devastated” but, as history has shown, he would get another chance further down the line. Cubby’s wife Dana suggested trying Dalton again, as the actor had now finished filming and was available. A fan of the novels, Dalton accepted the role after Cubby assured him the new film would take the character back to the style of the early Connery era. The official announcement was made on 6th August 1986.
|from left, Maryam D'Abo, Timothy Dalton, Caroline Bliss|
With the new, much-younger Bond, Lois Maxwell didn’t return as Miss Moneypenny (after being in every film in the series to date), replaced by Caroline Bliss. Desmond Llewellyn did return as Q and this was the first film since Goldfinger (1964) to have Bond’s equipment briefing take place within Q Branch.
Moonraker (1979)) undertook the parachute jump at Gibraltar and the C-130 Hercules used in the sequence, marked as a Royal Air Force plane, actually belonged to the Spanish Air Force - it was later used in the Afghanistan sequences with Russian markings. Dalton made a good impression on the crew during the two weeks it took to film the sequence, eager to be as physically involved in the stunts as possible - it is often quite clearly him and not a stuntman clinging onto the Land Rover.
|Filming on Gibraltar. 2nd unit director Arthur Wooster is in the blue jacket at the back, on the walkie-talkie|
|The villains of the piece, from left - Necros (Andreas Wisniewski), Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) and Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe)|
|John Richardson, on location in Morocco, with the miniature C-130 Hercules|
Production returned to Pinewood at the end of November and on 11th December, while filming the Q Branch scenes, there was a royal visit. Prince Charles fired the rocket from the ghetto blaster, while in a staged photo call, Princess Diana hit him over the head with a sugar-glass bottle (an act apparently instigated by Jeroen Krabbe). The C-130 fight sequence was filmed at the studio with the actors then, in mid-January, the crew shot the Aston Martin sequences in Austria. Filming completed on 13th February.
|John Glen directs Timothy Dalton|
This was the first Bond film to feature a different song, If There Was A Man by The Pretenders, over the closing credits and they also contributed the song Where Has Everybody Gone, heard through Necros’ Walkman in the film.
There is a lot of classical music in the film - none of which is included on the soundtrack album - including Mozart's 40th Symphony in G minor (1st movement), Alexander Borodin's String Quartet in D major, the finale to Act II of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Dvořák's cello concerto in B minor and Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations.
|Lunchbreak on set, with Cubby Broccoli, Timothy Dalton and that bloody cello!|
The film was generally well received critically, mostly for bringing back a sense of realism and espionage to the series, though some - such as Roger Ebert - commented on the lack of humour. It took $11.1m in its opening weekend in the US (more than doubling the take of The Lost Boys, released on the same day) and went on to gross $191.2m worldwide.
I like the film a lot - Dalton made a good Bond, they cut back on the one-liners (the funniest moment is where Kara is desperate to retrieve her cello but Bond is adamant they don’t have time - we then cut to him waiting for her) and the action is more vicious and dynamic. Having said that, there is the whole cello case sequence which apparently took three days to shoot - John Glen came up with it and only convinced the others by sitting in a cello case himself to prove it would work. I still don’t think it does.
The Living Daylights proved to be the last Bond film to use an original Ian Fleming title until Casino Royale (another reboot) was released in 2006.
|At the premiere of The Living Daylights, from left - Maryam d'Abo, Timothy Dalton, Barbara Broccoli, Cubby Broccoli, Dana Broccoli and John Glen|
Inside The Living Daylights (DVD documentary)