To me Craig in Casino Royale was closer to previous Bonds than Dalton was in The Living Daylights

sirsosirso Posts: 146MI6 Agent

To me Craig in Casino Royale was closer to previous Bonds than Dalton was in The Living Daylights.

I saw The Living Daylights on TV last night. I hadn't seen it for 35 years, due to avoiding it after seeing it in 1987 and thinking it was slow-paced.

Watching it again, however, I noticed how Dalton played Bond with a tinge of arrogance, ill-temper and impatience towards colleagues he thought incompetent. There was little likeable or charming in his portrayal - at least in the first hour. After that, he softened slightly - almost as if the director halfway through shooting had suggested he do so.

This made me think of Craig's debut as Bond in Casino Royale in comparison, and I was surprised to find that on reflection his Bond had more charm and warmth than Dalton's, and was closer to previous Bonds in that respect. I say, surprised, because when I first saw Casino Royale, I thought Craig played Bond as a mere brute. I think I was basing that assessment merely on his physicality and his fight scenes. I had overlooked his Bond "personality".

So, though I still have reservations about Craig as being physically suited to the role, I have come to see that his Bond is closer to the "filmic character" than Dalton's was. Dalton, as many have already said, was closer to the Bond of the novels in terms of physicality and character.

This is not to criticise Dalton, as I liked his Bond, and was sorry that he watered it down for Licenced to Kill, which wasn't one of the better Bond films, though the truck scene at the end was excellent.

Comments

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,722MI6 Agent

    I saw the first bit of the film last night and am usually prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. But yes, Dalton does display those traits and it's not great for the first scene of the film proper. His send off joke before the song crashes in doesn't work, he fluffs the line 'Better make that two' but it's not a great line anyway. The later scene is meant to display his unease at having to carry out a cold kill but you wouldn't know that. Bond can be contemptuous - I'm thinking of his reaction in Goldfinger the novel I think to a fellow suggesting that what he says is subject to the official secrets act - he gets a bit chilly, but then relents. But Dalton is just all fury in this scene, one thinks that he wouldn't last long as an agent as he has no cool. You never see him this enraged in fact with ANY of the villains in his stint.

    Saunders is a bit like Q in Goldfinger, quite humourless, which makes one think that he could easily have been bumped off in this first stint abroad in Thunderball, that would have changed the history of the series a bit.

    Craig benefitted from having been a leading man in stuff like Layer Cake and he'd done a lot more acting albeit not Shakespearian. He could just do it better than Dalton, an uneasy leading man. I didn't much care for his role in CR but I think he nailed what he was trying to do.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • sirsosirso Posts: 146MI6 Agent

    Yes, it looks like Dalton overdid the "serious" Bond bit. I think that some of that "tetchiness", if more controlled and used sparingly, could have been his personal Bond "signature", as the double-takes were for Moore's Bond, or the smirking Connery did to such affect.

    All in all, I think had Dalton been allowed to grow into the part over more than the two films he did, he could have been the most "authentic" Bond up to that point. He had the looks - Fleming said Bond looked like Hoagie Carmichael, as did Dalton a bit.

  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,622MI6 Agent
    edited August 14

    I wouldn’t consider being more like the other Bond actors, even if that includes the incomparable Sean Connery, as a standard for success. What counts IMO is how a Bond actor pulls off what’s required with what’s been given to him. For example, SC’s task was to interpret a literary lead character into an appealing screen protagonist, GL to make his own in SC’s shadow, RM to totally reinvent the character to fit his own gentlemanly persona, etc.

    TD similarly sought to reinvigorate the character after the long tenure of an aging leading man whose edge has gradually dulled. His approach was to go back to the source material and claims to have read all the Fleming books. It’s my opinion however that just as Connery, Young and the producers were challenged with translation, Dalton likewise incorporated into his expression what the books internalized into the character, like punctuated boredom, exasperation, value judgment about others, sentimentality and even lust.

    I’m a bit surprised for DC to be credited in preserving traits of movie Bond when it was his task to achieve a complete, clean slate reinvention of the character, exceeding beyond even the persona staples that were considered to be non-negotiable. Therefore IMO whatever traits he “preserved” I consider negligible in the greater scheme of his radically different Bond.

    Personally, right after AVTAK was released, my journey began to learn more about Bond beyond the films; I bought my first Fleming novels based on my favorite films, FRWL and YOLT. Then I decided to try CR (discounting of course the 67 release), which was new territory for me, and wow! I bought Raymond Benson’s Bedside Companion and surveyed the particulars of the books and then proceeded to hunt down all the other Fleming stories, which wasn’t easy in the pre-Internet days and when the Fleming titles were sporadically available.

    Then there was news that PB, then famous as Remington Steele was taking over, which I welcomed mostly for PB’s youth, but when he was suddenly replaced by TD, whom I’ve seen in Flash Gordon, I was more excited because of his measured gravitas. Having been heavily initiated into the literary character I had built a huge expectation for TD’s debut and TLD delivered in spades! Yes, TD dryly dropped one-liners and availed of Q’s arsenal like his predecessors, but that’s where it ended. Therefore being unlike his predecessors in his case is a mark of success.

    "...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.....
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,777MI6 Agent

    I do agree with the assertion that Dalton missed some big chunks of what had made Bond popular, and Craig nailed them. As you say, Craig manages the warmth, but crucially for me he gets the swagger. Bond is famously an audience wish fulfilment character, and a key to that is that he’s pretty much always having a good time and enjoying what he’s doing and has supreme confidence in himself as being amazing, which leads to that lovely grape-popping swagger that the best Bonds have. But Dalton personifies nervousness, not swagger. Which probably felt more dramatic, but it makes for a less compelling Bond. Craig was much more successful because he managed to combine what we expect and vicariously love about Bond (who doesn’t want to be that confident?) with the real dramatic meat.


    Watching TLD recently it struck me that the opening opera scene where he’s late and meets Saunders is a real Connery scene: it’s so easy to imagine Sean swaggering in and being playful and checking out the girl with the cello; Dalton is making it tense and nervous and it doesn’t really work.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,777MI6 Agent
    edited August 15

    The best example of CraigBond's swagger for me in CR is the scene where he crashes the Germans' car in the car park to create a distraction: he's literally using his swaggering, easy walk, nonchalantly in his sunglasses, and brazenly chucks the keys over his shoulder in a perfect 'couldn't give a toss' fashion, and with excellent comic timing. Bond is cool. And for me, it's hard not to imagine Dalton doing the same scene but much worse: impatiently striding away with that slightly weird constipated strut he does, furtively looking around to make sure he hasn't been spotted, and throwing the keys to the ground like a discarded cigarette. Basically spoiling the joke! 😀 Bond shouldn't care, Tim!

  • GymkataGymkata Minnesota, USAPosts: 4,161MI6 Agent

    One thing I really admire about Craig's Bond, particularly in CR, is that you can see him thinking and mentally switching gears scene by scene. It's like his Bond is assessing each situation and locking into 'charm mode', 'fight mode', or 'hacking mode' based upon what's required. He's fully compartmentalized for the first half of the film. Once Vesper enters the film and he begins to have feelings towards her, those modes start to meld together. By SF, he doesn't have a mode...he's just Bond. He's a fully formed agent. It's a fun character progression and a big credit towards the performance of Daniel Craig as well as the direction of Martin Campbell in CR.

    Dalton never got that kind of arc. His attempt to play a more serious Bond was hampered by some decisions to make him...to be blunt...a complete jerk in the first half of TLD. He's unnecessarily stern and grumpy with those around him. He's able to soften things a bit when necessary but he's so standoffish for most of the film that I simply never engage with the character beyond the superficial. The less said about LTK, the better. Dalton should have been the 'best' Bond, to be honest. It's a shame that he was so let down by John Glen and the scripts.

    Current rankings (updated 12/21)
    OHMSS>FRWL>CR>TSWLM>NTTD>MR>SF>FYEO>GE>DN>YOLT>OP>
    TND>TWINE>QOS>TB>TMWTGG>GF>LALD>TLD>AVTAK>SP>DAF>LTK>DAD
    Bond rankings: Lazenby>Moore>Connery>Craig>Brosnan>Dalton
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,777MI6 Agent

    Yeah, given that I have seen Dalton give better and more charismatic performances in other films, I do often wonder if Glen was the issue. It would have been good to have seen him as Bond with a different director.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,458Chief of Staff

    That would be Martin Campbell, of course. Sad that he's now probably too old to come back to the series to introduce his third Bond.

  • GymkataGymkata Minnesota, USAPosts: 4,161MI6 Agent


    He's 78 and still active. I haven't seen MEMORY yet but his prior film, THE PROTEGE, was a very solid film and indicates that he still 'has it'. If he stays in good health, there's no reason to think he couldn't do a third Bond film in a couple of years.

    Current rankings (updated 12/21)
    OHMSS>FRWL>CR>TSWLM>NTTD>MR>SF>FYEO>GE>DN>YOLT>OP>
    TND>TWINE>QOS>TB>TMWTGG>GF>LALD>TLD>AVTAK>SP>DAF>LTK>DAD
    Bond rankings: Lazenby>Moore>Connery>Craig>Brosnan>Dalton
  • GymkataGymkata Minnesota, USAPosts: 4,161MI6 Agent


    Ultimately it's the director who is responsible for getting the 'right' performance out of the actor. The actor needs to deliver the goods but the director is responsible for having a vision and ensuring that all of the elements, including the performances, adhere to that vision. Glen is the very definition of a point and shoot director who seems more intent on ensuring the physical elements are in place rather than the performances. the only instance where I think he really cared about nailing something with an actor is in FYEO with the kick-over-the-cliff scene, considering that Moore had to 'reach' for that scene. Everything else in that film and in his other Bond films seems to be 'ok, you know the role...just play it.' For Dalton, 'just playing it' seems to have been 'look like you're trying to solve complex calculus equations in your mind' for every scene.

    By the way, if you want proof that Glen was a crap director, try and make your way through 'CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: THE DISCOVERY'. It's one of the very worst movies that I've ever seen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus:_The_Discovery

    Current rankings (updated 12/21)
    OHMSS>FRWL>CR>TSWLM>NTTD>MR>SF>FYEO>GE>DN>YOLT>OP>
    TND>TWINE>QOS>TB>TMWTGG>GF>LALD>TLD>AVTAK>SP>DAF>LTK>DAD
    Bond rankings: Lazenby>Moore>Connery>Craig>Brosnan>Dalton
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,458Chief of Staff
  • GymkataGymkata Minnesota, USAPosts: 4,161MI6 Agent

    Ridley Scott is 84 as a point of reference...and he doesn't appear to be slowing down at all.

    Current rankings (updated 12/21)
    OHMSS>FRWL>CR>TSWLM>NTTD>MR>SF>FYEO>GE>DN>YOLT>OP>
    TND>TWINE>QOS>TB>TMWTGG>GF>LALD>TLD>AVTAK>SP>DAF>LTK>DAD
    Bond rankings: Lazenby>Moore>Connery>Craig>Brosnan>Dalton
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