The Living Daylights’ 25th: living on the edge

James Bond celebrated his silver anniversary in the movies in 1987 and in the process got a makeover in the person of Timothy Dalton, the fourth actor to play the role in the Eon Productions-made series.

The story is familiar to fans. Roger Moore had departed and Eon considered various candidates. Pierce Brosnan had been selected but NBC, deciding to capitalize on the choice, opted to renew the television series Remington Steele. Producer Albert R. Broccoli didn’t approve and decided to search anew. Eventually, Dalton got the job, beginning filming days after wrapping up the now-forgotten Brenda Starr, which wouldn’t get released until 1989 (and 1992 in the U.S.)

With a new Bond, a new Miss Moneypenny was cast, with Caroline Bliss getting the job, replacing 14-film veteran Lois Maxwell. There was some change going on behind the camera, as well. Broccoli, 78 when production began, had earlier promoted stepson Michael G. Wilson to share the producing duties with him. With Daylights, the master showman named daughter Barbara Broccoli associate producer, a title she shared with 007 crew veteran Tom Pevsner.

Caroline Bliss and Timothy Dalton

The biggest change was a more serious tone in story. While Richard Maibaum and Wilson again scripted, the story was much different than Moore’s finale, A View To a Kill. This was a MI6 that issued “termination warrants” and the Cold War very much played a big role, even though the the motivation of the villains (played by Jeroen Krabbe and Joe Don Baker) was to get rich.

Still, there was much continuity. Robert Brown as M, Desmond Llewelyn as Q and Geoffrey Keen as the Minister of Defence all were back in the cast. Also returning was composer John Barry, for his third straight Bond film and what proved to be his final 007 scoring assignment. Being Bond’s 25th anniversary, the film got publicity. Examples include a prime-time television special on ABC hosted by Roger Moore and an article in Time magazine that ran to almost 1,800 words.

Financially, the film sold $191.2 million in tickets worldwide, a good jump from the $152.6 million for A View To a Kill. In the U.S., the difference wasn’t as pronounced: $51.2 mlllion, less than $1 million more than View’s U.S. ticket sales. James Bond, and Timothy Dalton, would return, but more changes were in store.