It was a late Thursday morning when my family and I returned from a vacation. After the long drive home, I flopped down on my bed to watch some tv. I flipped through a few channels until I found something magical on one of the movie channels.
I don’t recall if the movie was on HBO, Cinemax, or Showtime, all I know is that’s the day I saw my first James Bond movie, 1987’s “The Living Daylights starring Timothy Dalton. Something in me changed that morning, and from that moment on, I have been a 007 fan.
“The Living Daylights” was the fifteenth entry in the James Bond film series, and the first to star Timothy Dalton as 007. Of course at the time I didn’t know any of this, or that Dalton was the fourth actor to play Bond. All I knew was that I loved what I was seeing on my tv screen.
The plot of “The Living Daylights” sees Bond’s extraction of Soviet defector Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) who reveals a plan by General Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) to kill off British agents. Following up on a supposed KGB sniper Kara (Maryam d’Abo), Bond soon discovers that Koskov has been playing both Britain and Russia in an attempt to broker a drugs and weapons deal with notorious arms dealer Brad Whittaker (Joe Don Baker).
This movie had me from the opening sequence as MI6 agents skydive into the Rock of Gibraltar. One Jeep chase later, I witnessed my first 007 opening credits. Okay, so the song by A-ha isn’t the best in the series, but I didn’t care. I was too busy taking in all the stuff Maurice Binder was throwing at me: the girls, the guns, the colors, everything was just perfection.
Even back then I thought the plot was a little convoluted, but the actions scenes and the gadgets more than made up for it. One of my favorite sequences in the film is when Nacros (Andreas Wisniewski), kidnaps Koskov from the MI6 compound. I still think the exploding milk bottles were a nice touch. By the way, I still say Necros is the best villain in the movie.
The female lead in “The Living Daylights” was Kara Milovy, played by Maryam d’Abo. Although she’s often a damsel in distress, it was fun seeing her reject Bond’s advances. And because of her, we got that cool cello case chase sequence. “The Living Daylights” is also the (I belive), the only time Bond’s only had one leading lady.
However, there is another actress in “The Living Daylights” that I’m particularly fond of. I’m speaking of course about Virginia Hey, who plays General Pushkin’s love interest in the Morocco scenes. Her role in the movie is small, but its made an impact of me because years later I was able to meet Virginia Hey at a “Farscape” convention in Boston in 2004 or 2005.
She brought with her several photographs from the movie, and she was kind enough to share with us some stories from the film set. Virginia Hey is a wonderful person, I just wish her part in “The Living Daylights” had been larger.
I’m well aware that Timothy Dalton is not thought of as a great James Bond. And while I understand why so many fans feel this way, I have to disagree. If you think about it, Timothy Dalton and “The Living Daylights” paved the way for the darker stuff wee see in the Daniel Craig era.
“The Living Daylights” premiered on the June 27, 1987 in London, and it was kind of a soft reboot before anyone knew what that meant. In many ways it changed James Bond forever by showing a harder age to him, but also by showing the charcter could adapt with the times.
More importantly, “The Living Daylights” changed my life forever. I love this movie, and Timothy Dalton’s take on 007. And because he was my first Bond, he will always be my favorite.