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James Bond: The Living Daylights Image

James Bond: The Living Daylights

January 21, 2019

As the 15th film in the James Bond franchise, The Living Daylights is based on the novels of Ian Fleming. Made in 1987, it is Timothy Dalton's first appearance as the fictional MI6 secret agent 007.

The film was a box office success, grossing $191.2 million worldwide and producing a number five hit record for Aha with the title song. Dalton's performance was well-received by the critics, with some reviews describing him as "the best Bond ever", bringing realism back to the series and giving audiences a glimpse of Bond's darker side.

Dalton's 007 career

Despite Dalton's success in The Living Daylights, he was to star in only one more Bond movie, Licence to Kill, in 1989. After he left the franchise (to be replaced by Pierce Brosnan), it was revealed he had been lined up to play the secret agent a third time.

In fact, a screenplay was in progress for Bond movie number 17 in 1990, with the script describing one scene where our hero unfastens his parachute harness, only to find himself staring uncomfortably down the barrel of a gun.

The outline of the script was reportedly finished by May 1990. Key locations, characters and major plot lines were in place. It was said the opening sequence was set in a Scottish chemical weapons laboratory, where a robotic device ran amok, causing the building to explode.

Subsequently, Bond was summoned to MI6 for a briefing and was then sent on a mission to Japan, Hong Kong and China, in search of the mad genius, Henry Lee Ching, a science and electronics expert who had the skills to arrange "accidents" at nuclear plants.

However, with an exciting 007 script in place, a legal wrangle ensued between the studios MGM and United Artists. After it had rumbled on for nearly five years, Dalton decided enough was enough and he announced he was leaving the franchise to pursue other roles.

Intrigue and double-crossing

Dalton's first adventure as Bond saw the superspy help a KGB defector escape to Britain from a concert hall in Czechoslovakia, shooting a sniper disguised as a cellist in the orchestra during the daring mission.

On arriving safely in Britain, the defector, General Georgi Koskov, tells MI6 that the KGB's new head, General Leonid Pushkin, has revived its old policy of "smiert spionam" - "death to spies".

Bond is sent on a dangerous mission to track down and kill Pushkin - a task he relishes after learning the general was responsible for the death of another British secret agent, 004.

The mission takes him on a thrilling chase across the world, but he soon realises everything is not as it seems when he suspects the cellist is really Koskov's girlfriend. Intrigue ensues as 007 tries to determine who the real good and bad guys are.

Filming locations

Although some scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios in the UK, much of the outdoor action was shot in Gibraltar. In particular, shooting took place on the Rock of Gibraltar, including a thrilling scene when a hijacked Land Rover careers down the road and bursts through a wall towards the sea.

A stretch of road on top of the landmark rock was used, with shooting taking place from several different angles to give the impression the road was longer than it was in reality. Additional beach defences were added at the foot of the rock especially for the movie.

Amazingly, the action seamlessly switched from Gibraltar mid-scene, although audiences would never have noticed! The Land Rover started out on the Rock of Gibraltar, but as the vehicle became airborne, the remainder of the scene was shot at Beachy Head in the UK - demonstrating the wonders of modern technology and film editing!

The Living Daylights premiered at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London, on 29th June 1987. The Prince and Princess of Wales were among the VIP guests.

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