Should David Hedison have played Felix Leiter from LALD to LTK?

Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,619MI6 Agent
edited April 21 in The James Bond Films

The Leiter actors were changed a lot in the Bond films, and I think this made it more difficult to build a real connection between 007 and Leiter. In my opinion Hedison delivered a good performance in both his outings, something we had to wait until the Craig era to see an actor do again. Hedison even did this with two Bond actors. This is why I think it would have been a good thing if he got to be both Moore's and Dalton's Felix Leiter. The weak performance of Leiter in TLD would probably have been avoided with Hedison in the part. His death in LTK would have had even more of an impact if the audience knew him and his friendship with Bond through all those movies. What do you think?


  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent

    That is only one film of course: Felix took 14 years off after LALD πŸ˜„

    He would have doubtless been better in TLD as he was just a better performer, but it is a bit weird that he's suddenly older than Bond, and maybe hanging out on a yacht with two young lovelies would have been a bit creepy 😊 Really they just needed to hire someone a bit better than John Terry.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,226MI6 Agent
    edited April 23

    The characters appearance in the Living Daylights was an irrelevent digression, did he add to the plot in anyway?

    How could he have been added to the intervening films?

    He was actually in the Man with the Golden Gun novel, but left out of the film. I guess we got Pepper instead?

    He is mentioned by name in Moonraker, when Bond outs Goodhead as a CIA agent.

    There are American scenes in both the start of Moonraker and the last half of A View to a Kill where he might have appeared, but really a CIA agent shouldn't be operating within the United States at all, should he? He should actually be showing up for international missions not domestic missions.


    EDIT: turns out Felix is not named in Moonraker. instead, he is implied: Bond tells Goodhead "I have friends in low places".

    see 1:50 this clip

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,619MI6 Agent

    The two female CIA agents were a bit silly anyway, so perhaps they should just have been cut out of the script?

    I struggle to remember the other Felixes after Hedison in Moore's Bonds, and now I know why I couldn't remember them. 😁

    Personally I never liked Pepper, so perhaps we should have gotten Hedison's Leiter instead?

    He would have made a lot more sense in TMWTGG than a racist Louisiana cop on holiday in Thailand.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,226MI6 Agent
    edited April 21

    according to wikipedia...

    Unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is a domestic security service, the CIA has no law enforcement function and is officially mainly focused on overseas intelligence gathering, with only limited domestic intelligence collection.

    ...which I think we aready knew, but then why is Felix in half the movies he's in? Seems to be the result of sloppily adapting Fleming, or avoiding the shark issue.

    in Fleming's Live and Let Die, Leiter is in New York because...

    "...CIA thought we did all right together on the Casino job so they hauled me away from the Joint Intelligence chaps in Paris, put me through the works in Washington and here I am. I'm sort of liaison between the Central Intelligence Agency and our friends of the FBI." He waved towards Captain Dexter, who was watching this unprofessional ebullience without enthusiasm. "It's their case, of course, at least the American end of it is, but as you know there are some big overseas angles which are CIA's territory, so we're running it joint..."

    ...which is to say, Paris where we first met him is his ongoing position, he's been redeployed. But because he gets half eaten by a shark, he doesn't get the chance to return to regular duties. So the film left all that out. I don't remember any explanation why he's working in New York in the film.

    In Fleming's Diamonds are Forever and Goldfinger, he is now working for Pinkerton's Detective Agency, as he is no longer able to fill his CIA duties. Thats why he's in the United States, and those two movies avoid this detail and therefor show the CIA working domestically.

    from Diamonds are Forever...

    "With my gun hand gone they could only offer me desk work. Very nice about it and paid me off handsomely when I said I wanted an open-air life. So Pinkerton's made me a good offer. You know, 'The Eye that Never Sleeps' people. So now I'm just a 'door-basher'--private detective. 'Put on some clothes and open up' routine. But it's good fun. They're a nice crowd to work with, and one day I'll be able to retire with a pension and a presentation gold watch that goes green in summer. As a matter of fact I'm in charge of their Race Gang squad--doping, crooked running, night-guards at the stables, all that sort of thing. Good job, and it takes you all over the country."

    In Fleming's Thunderball and the Man with the Golden Gun, he is again working for the CIA, who have given him his job back in exceptional circumstances, though I don't know what's so exceptional about Scaramanga's hotel. But both of those are international missions, as they should be.

    from Thunderball...

    "Drafted. Just damned well drafted. Hell, anyone would think there was a war on. You see, James, once you've worked for C.I.A., you're automatically put on the reserve of officers when you leave. Unless you've been cashiered for not eating the code book under fire or something. And apparently my old Chief, Alien Dulles that is, just didn't have the men to go round when the President sounded the fire alarm. So I and twenty or so other guys were just pulled in---drop everything, twenty-four hours to report."

    In this case, the film can skip the shark incident and it makes even more sense than what Fleming wrote!

    from Man with the Golden Gun...

    Leiter was still working for Pinkerton's, but was also on the reserve of the C.I.A., who had drafted him for this particular assignment because of his knowledge, gained in the past mostly with James Bond, of Jamaica. 

    He was left out of the film of course, but being a purely international mission, his inclusion would have actually made more sense than Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever!

    Leiter is not in Fleming's Dr No, but in that film we only see him working in Jamaica, so thats OK.

    Thing is, if you go back to that bit about his base position being Paris, he should actually be appearing in all the European adventures, not the American adventures! His random appearance in the Living Daylights makes more sense than some of his classic appearances!

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent
    edited April 21

    Likewise his work in Licence To Kill makes sense in that he's working a case over the border- the bit in the pre-titles should really have him as an 'observer' too though! πŸ˜„

    MI6 and MI5 have similar setups: I can't remember, how did Fleming explain Bond working in the UK in Moonraker?

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,619MI6 Agent

    The FBI was actually given the responsibility of working in latin America during WWII even though it should have been the job of the OSS.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,897Chief of Staff

    Short version- the relevant Minister talks to the Prime Minister and a lot of red tape gets cut very quickly, when Bond replaces Drax's deceased security officer Major Tallon since he's well suited for the job (bilingual in German, etc) on M's recommendation.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent
    edited April 21

    Ah right thanks, bit of a fudge then! πŸ˜„

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,226MI6 Agent
    edited April 21

    Sorry for digressing your thread Number24, but since you're the historian in the gang, and author of the Real stories from the world of espionage and special operations thread, I presume you find questions about CIA jurisdiction of interest!

    I seem to recall from Fleming biographies that he himself was some sort of consultant in the establishment of the CIA after the war, and personal friends with Dulles. So he should know, it's EON that messed up.

    Actual answer to your question, Number24: I would have preferred Leiter be played by Jack Lord all along, and if they had to cast a new actor coincident with Moore, whoever Moore's new counterpart was should also be kept. I feel in all those films there is no credible relationship between Bond and Leiter because they keep changing the actor, and he might as well be given a new character name every time. But in the case of Hedison, the real problem is Leiter just wasn't a character for about six films in a row!

    Barbel already answered @emtiem's question, but I will add: Bond meets with a character called Ronnie Vallance in Moonraker, who is "Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard" and Gala Brand's boss. Vallance reappears in the next book, before Bond visits Tiffany's apartment (which is in London not Amsterdam). Vallance has Peter Franks arrested. One of the Spang bothers has an address in London also, so its a domestic matter. I think smuggling in general must fall under Scotland Yard jurisdiction. For some reason Vallance doesn't seem to appear in Goldfinger, even though Bond is working within England for the middle section of the book. Vallance does reappear in OHMSS, when they need to pick up the angels of death as they arrive in the country.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,619MI6 Agent
    edited April 21

    I don't mind the digression at all, CP. Fleming was involved in the creation of the CIA. He wrote a paper advising the Americans on the matter and Dulles gifted him a revolver engraved "For special services".

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,619MI6 Agent

    So should Hedison've played Leiter in LALD, TMWTGG (instead of Pepper), TLD and LTK? I think that would have worked well.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent

    Well Pepper is comic relief in Golden Gun, yes he annoys me too, but Leiter wouldn't have filled that role.

    The main problem is that Felix generally has no real reason to be in most of the movies he's in! He's usually a complete third wheel (probably especially in LALD, where he just disappears off the face of the Earth before the final reel) and Bond just doesn't really need a fellow agent guy to be his friend. I only watched it again a few months ago but I've already forgotten what the Jack Lord Felix actually does in Dr No.

    The Jeffrey Wright version has actually been more of an ally who has actually had roles in the plot of the films he's been in so far, so is more successful than most.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,619MI6 Agent

    Yes. Hedison in LTK and Geoffrey White in Craig's tenure were the ones who really had an impact on the plots. I think Leiter's real function in Connery's movies was a way to involve the American cinema audience.

  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,070MI6 Agent

    Why did the script writers eschew Leiter in favour of Jack Wade in Goldeneye? It would have made sense to have seen him in the Caribbean - if not in St Petersburg.

    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent

    I guess the Brosnan films weren’t a total reboot from the Dalton ones: the opening of Goldeneye is even set just a year before Living Daylights. So perhaps they didn’t want to erase those movies (Leiter obviously wasn’t in great shape after LTK). The new M is even having Bond evaluated in Monaco, maybe because he quit and went rogue in Key West?

    Plus also Martin Campbell liked to use Joe Don Baker: maybe he just wanted him and changed the role to suit.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,226MI6 Agent
    edited April 22

    Charmed & Dangerous said:

    Why did the script writers eschew Leiter in favour of Jack Wade in Goldeneye?

    emtiem said:

    I guess the Brosnan films weren’t a total reboot from the Dalton ones

    exactly, if we had seen him after License to Kill he should have been missing an arm and a leg.

    But BrosnanBond could at least have asked Wade, Jinx, or jinx's mean boss how his old buddy was doing

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent

    Can I ask how you do those dinky little quotes?

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,226MI6 Agent

    first copy and paste the content I wish to quote, then I manually add "so and so said:" and hard return


    emtiem said:

    Can I ask how you do those dinky little quotes?

    then select what I wish to be inside the quote, and click on the paragraph symbol to the left of the active line

    which gives me these four tools

    the third of which is quotation marks and leads to three more tools. Spoiler tag is one of them, which is useful. But in this case I pick "Quote

    which gives me

    emtiem said:

    Can I ask how you do those dinky little quotes?

    if you don't separate out multiple quotes with a blank line, they will run together. You can force the first quote to end and the second to begin a line later with the paragraph tool

    its a bit labour intensive, and doesnt look like the default quotes, but at least we have a way to copy and paste just the relevant text, and disentangle nested quotes, instead of quoting everything with no chance to edit.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent

    Thank you.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 3,868MI6 Agent

    Felix has always been a bit of a problem in the series. When Jack Lord demanded too much money, and equal billing with Sean Connery, the producers went with the totally unsuitable Cec Linder where perhaps Shane Rimmer would have been a far better solution and would have certainly carried on in the role in future films.

    I liked Rik Van Nutter in TB, he looked like he had walked on screen directly from the pages of the novels and I’m not sure why he wasn’t asked again as presumably he would have been available as his career had hardly taken off after TB.

    Less said about Norman Burton the better.

    I liked David Hedison and of course he should have been in TLD as well as LTK, another strange choice of casting from the producers.

    Jeffrey Wright is excellent in the Craig era but with the rate of years between movies increasing decade by decade he will be too old for the new Bond.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,090MI6 Agent

    Shane Rimmer would have been a good call; very likeable onscreen and handily local!

  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,557MI6 Agent

    I think the verve of the Felix Leiter character came to life directly from Fleming’s personal experience of camaraderie in his earlier career when as a young man, he enjoyed the professional friendship of other guys in the prime of their lives and it’s from these times he fleshed out characters like Ronnie Vallance (MR), Colonel Johns (FYEO), Rene Mathis (CR) and of course, Felix Leiter.

    I think Leiter should be as young and in his prime like Bond. Jack Lord and Rik Van Nutter were my favorites, although they were characterized for film as a departure from the books like how Bond was. David Hedison was like this and an improvement IMO from the middle-aged police detective types of the Leiters from GF and DAF.

    However, with the closing of the RM chapter after AVTAK with Bond, M, Moneypenny and Sir Tibbetts making it look like Pensioners Day at Ascot, it was refreshingly dramatic to once again have a young Bond paired with John Terry’s Leiter, both sporting hair like a couple of tennis pros, lol.

    To me, from the planning perspective, I think the intention was to capture the Bond and Leiter dynamics from the books. Yes, his scenes were abruptly inserted, but it seemed that the producers wanted to bring back the old Bond staples, including Leiter since he’d been MIA in the previous six installments. With that said, although David Hedison had more personality than John Terry, I think he was a bit old as a buddy match for TD.

    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
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