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The Living Daylights (1987) - Illustrated Reference

Updated on August 31, 2016

The Living Daylights was directed by John Glen and premiered on 29th June 1987. Starring Timothy Dalton, Maryam d’Abo, Jeroen Krabbe, Joe Don Baker, Andreas Wisniewski ,Art Malik and John Rhys-Davies. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson. Music by John Barry. Theme sung by A-ha. 130mins.

Bond organises the defection of General Koskov, he reveals a KGB plan to kill enemy agents. When Koskov is abducted Bond meets up with beautiful Cellist Kara Milovy, a friend of Koskovs. Bond discovers Koskov’s defection and abduction were all staged. Koskov, working with arms dealer Brad Whitaker, uses Soviet funds to buy a massive shipment of raw opium from Afghanistan.

The Living Daylights was the 15th Bond movie in the official series, it was adapted from the short story The Living Daylights included in Ian Fleming’s 14th and last Bond book Octopussy, first published in 1966.

In the story Bond is given orders to kill a top Soviet assassin to stop him from shooting dead a double agent defecting from Russia. When the assassin appears at a window with rifle, Bond is shocked to discover it’s the beautiful cellist he had been admiring coming and going into the building with her orchestra. Disobeying orders he shoots and wounds her rather than kill her.

Bond: Whoever she was, I must have scared the living daylights out of her.

Timothy Dalton (1944-) / James Bond

Born in Colwyn Bay, Wales, Timothy Dalton had previously been considered for Bond as far back as 1968, when he was just 24. His films include - The Lion in Winter (1968 as Philip II), Cromwell (1970), Wuthering Heights (1970 as Heathcliff), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Flash Gordon (1980 as Prince Barin), Licence to Kill (1989), The Rocketeer (1991), Looney Tunes Back in Action (2003), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The Tourist (2010).

Kara: You were fantastic. We're free.
Bond: Kara, we're inside a Russian airbase in the middle of Afghanistan.

Maryam D'Abo (1960-) / Kara Milovy

In one of the few nods to the original story Bond shoots Kara's rifle instead of killing her when she turns out to be the sniper at the start of the film. The line “Whoever she was I must have scared the living daylights out of her.” is similar to Bond's remark at the end of the original story.

Born in London, England, Maryam D'Abo films include - Xtro (1983), White Nights (1985), The Browning Version (1994) and Dorian Gray (2009).

Jeroen Krabbe (1944-) / General Georgi Koskov

Koskov is planning to buy tons of raw opium from the Afghans using money intended for an arms deal with his partner in crime, Brad Whitaker.

Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Jeroen Krabbe's films include - Soldier of Orange (1977), No Mercy (1986), A World Apart (1988), The Punisher (1989), The Prince of Tides (1991), The Fugitive (1993), Immortal Beloved (1994), Ocean's Twelve (2004), Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo (2005) and Transporter 3 (2008).

Whitaker: How do you like my personal pantheon of great commanders?
Pushkin: Butchers.
Whitaker: Surgeons. They cut away society's dead flesh.

Joe Don Baker (1936-) / Brad Whitaker

Brad Whitaker is an international arms dealer and also a military history buff, his mansion is full of waxwork military figures and historical weapons.

Born in Groesbeck, Texas, Joe Don Baker would reappear in two more Bond films as a different character, Jack Wade, Bonds CIA contact in Goldeneye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). His films include - Cool Hand Luke (1967), Walking Tall (1973 as Buford Pusser), The Outfit (1973), The Natural (1984), Fletch (1985), Cape Fear (1991), Congo (1995), Mars Attacks! (1996) and The Dukes of Hazzard (2005).

Pushkin: You are professional. You do not kill without reason.
Bond: Two of our men are dead. Koskov named you.
Pushkin: It is a question of trust. Who do you believe? Koskov, or me?
Bond: If I trusted Koskov we wouldn't be talking. As long as you're alive, we'll never know what he's up to.
Pushkin: Then I must die.

John Rhys-Davies (1944-) / General Leonid Pushkin

General Koskov points the finger at Pushkin for the killing of British agents, but Bond has his doubts.

Born in Salisbury, England, John Rhys-Davies films include - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Sphinx (1981), Victor Victoria (1983), Sahara (1983), King Solomon's Mines (1985), Waxwork (1988), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003 as Gimli), The Medallion (2003) and In the Name of the King (2007).

Art Malik (1952-) / Kamran Shah

Born in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, Art Malik's films include - A Passage to India (1984), City of Joy (1992), True Lies (1994), The Wolfman (2010), Sex and the City 2 (2010) and John Carter (2012).

Andreas Wisniewski (1959-) / Necros

Born in Berlin, West Germany, Andreas Wisniewski's films include - Gothic (1987), Die Hard (1988), Mission Impossible (1996), Centurion (2010) and Mission Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol (2011).

Nearing 60 years of age, Roger Moore retired from spy duty, his licence to kill revoked. In 1986 the hunt was on for the 4th actor to play the world’s most famous secret agent. Pierce Brosnan and Sam Neill were tested for the part before it was handed over to 42 year old Timothy Dalton.

There were plans at one point to have Prince Charles and Princess Diana appear at the end of the film using look-alikes, similar to the way Prime Minister Thatcher appeared at the end of For Your Eyes Only (1981). Saner minds prevailed and the idea was dropped.

Bond’s CIA pal Felix Leiter makes his 6th appearance in the series, this time played by John Terry. The last time the character appeared in the official series was in Live and Let Die 14 years earlier. Bernie Casey played Leiter in the Kevin McClory production Never Say Never Again (1983).

Lois Maxwell was out as Moneypenny, after playing the role in all 14 previous Bond films. 25 year old Caroline Bliss was cast as Moneypenny in the two Timothy Dalton Bond films.

Walter Gotell appeared as KGB chief General Gogol for the last time, he had played the role in six Bond films.

The parrot from For Your Eyes Only makes an uncredited appearance in this movie.

Timothy Dalton performed most of the stunts himself, such as the opening chase on the roof of a jeep around the Rock of Gibraltar. The same short stretch of road was used over and over again from different angles.

Bond: Just taking the Aston out for a spin Q.
Q: Be careful, 007. It's just had a new coat of paint!

Bond drives an Aston Martin V8 Vantage equipped with steel spiked tyres, an outrigger, wheel hubs with built in lasers, front firing missiles, a targeting display on the windscreen, bulletproof glass, rear rocket propulsion and the car can be set for self-destruct.

The last time Bond drove an Aston Martin on screen was in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).

Norwegian pop group A-ha sung the Bond theme “The Living Daylights”, it didn’t chart on the Billboard 100 but it did peak at #5 on the UK chart and sold 2.5 million copies worldwide.

And for the first time a different song appears over the end credits of a Bond movie, “If There Was a Man” performed by The Pretenders.

John Barry composed one of his best music scores for The Living Daylights. It would be his last score for the series. He can be seen conducting the orchestra near the end of the film. John Barry’s contribution to the success of the Bond movies can never be underestimated.

The Living Daylights was very successful at the box office, with a total of $191m worldwide, a bigger hit than Roger Moore's last Bond movie, A View to a Kill, which grossed $152m, audiences had accepted Dalton as the new Bond.

In my opinion Timothy Dalton was excellent as a more serious, angry, emotional Bond. But he did seem uncomfortable with the humour, the silly quips and ‘wink wink’ attitude which audiences expected from 007. He would get one more stab at Bond.

The Living Daylights would be the last time the title from an Ian Fleming story would be used until Casino Royale, 19 years later.

The film was retitled in some countries –

Danger Zone (Italy)
Facing Death (Poland)
Ice Cold Mission (Sweden)
The Touch Of Death (West Germany)
His Name Is Danger (Chile)
High Tension (Spain & Portugal)
Spies Die At Dawn (Denmark)

The Critics Wrote -

"Timothy Dalton, the fourth Bond, registers beautifully on all key counts of charm, machismo, sensitivity and technique. In The Living Daylights he's abetted by material that's a healthy cut above the series norm of super-hero fantasy." (Variety)

"Dalton, no waffler, develops the best Bond ever. He's as classy as the trademark tuxedo, as sleek as the Aston-Martin. Like Bond's notorious martini, women who encounter his carved-granite good looks are shaken, not stirred. Dalton does not play a pompous, mean-spirited Bond like Sean Connery or a prissy, sissy Bond like Roger Moore. Both were as aggressively heterosexual as pubescent Playboy subscribers." (Washington Post)

"At 40, Dalton takes a bow as James Bond. Although he isn't as quick with the wisecracks as earlier incarnations of 007, there's plenty of great action, a delicious damsel in distress and some wonderful scenery. What more do you want from a Bond film?" (Rose)

"Mr. Dalton, the latest successor to the role of James Bond, is well equipped for his new responsibilities. He has enough presence, the right debonair looks and the kind of energy that the Bond series has lately been lacking. If he radiates more thoughtfulness than the role requires, maybe that's just gravy." (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

"The raw materials of the James Bond films are so familiar by now that the series can be revived only through an injection of humor. That is, unfortunately, the one area in which the new Bond, Timothy Dalton, seems to be deficient. He's a strong actor, he holds the screen well, he's good in the serious scenes, but he never quite seems to understand that it's all a joke" (Roger Ebert)

"More plot, less humour, fewer gadgets and a more athletic Bond: on the whole, it's an improvement." (Chris Tookey)


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    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Nilson, I liked Timothy Dalton too, a shame he only got to do two Bond films. But they are two of the best films in the series. And Barry's music in this one is one of my all time faves.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Nilson 6 years ago

      I liked Dalton a lot. I think he is the best Bond by far. Better than Connery. Dalton stayed very true to the Ian FLeming books and both his movies were incredibly detailed and well done.

      One said that Joe Don Baker wasn't a nasty villain like Sanchez but that is exactly the point. The Living Daylights was supposed to be more realistic. I liked John Rhys Davies a lot as Pushkin. This is one of Barry's best scores and one of the best Bond scores ever made to a film. Dalton darker approach is fantastic. He doesn't turn Bond into a Rambo like rosnan did from Tomorrow Never Dies and up. Even the action in the Craig movies is a little far out at times. Casino ROyale was a good movie (Bad score though) but Quantum Of Solace was really bad. Yes, Licence To Kill was the best one of Dalton's movies but this one is fantastic too. I don't think the Bond franchise will ever rise to this level again.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Cogerson-so glad to see a post from you today after the earthquake hit yesterday. You wouldn't be posting if your family wasn't okay

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Yeah the critics were a bit nasty with Roger, give him a break he kept the Bond series going for 12 years, more than any other actor. Without him it might have all fizzled out in the 70's.

      I might do the other two 'unofficial' Bond films once I finish this, we'll see.

      Thanks for posting Cogerson, appreciate it.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Excellent hub, I remember seeing this movie in the theater and I thought it was excellent. I liked Timothy Dalton as really reminds me of how people talked about Daniel Craig after Casino Royale.....both of their 2nd movies were disappointing...but their first ones were excellent....I hope Craig can produce an excellent 3rd Bond movie.

      Great facts everywhere in your hub. I thought Dalton pretty much got the boot because License to Kill performed so badly at the box office. I loved Jeroen Krabbe as the bad guy. Did you ever notice once Lois Maxwell left the role of Moneypenny...that part pretty much dropped out of relevance in future Bond movies? I do not even know if they have used the same actress since Maxwell left.

      I was reading the reviews...the Washington Post...still taking shots at Sir Roger Moore...."a prissy, sissy Bond like Roger Moore" the man got no

      Great hub voted up voted interesting voted awesome voted useful. Trying to figure out why it took me almost 2 days to find this Bond hub....only 9 more to go.....I think you are going to have to go back and pick up Never Say Never Again and the original Casino Royale

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Well they gave him one more Bond film - Licence to Kill - but he wasn't given the boot, by the time the producers sorted out various legal disputes and problems they had in the 1990's Dalton made an announcement in the papers that too many years had gone by and that he didn't want to play Bond anymore.

      Thanks for popping in AlabamaGirl.

    • AlabamaGirl86 profile image

      AlabamaGirl86 6 years ago

      I always thought this was one of the best Bond movies. I liked Dalton as Bond, not sure why they booted him out after only one attempt.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      While the next film had stronger villains and some nasty deaths The Living Daylights was a lot more romantic and had an epic last half hour action sequence, one of the best in the series IMO. Plus it had a superb score by John Barry. I liked them both.

      Thanks for commenting Rob.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      I actually preferred Dalton's more intense and serious version of Bond to Moore's comical interpretation. He reminded more of the Connery Bond. I recall that many articles and critics were comparing him to Connery, but that's not unsual since every new Bond seems to be compared to Connery. (Brosnan and Craig, as well.) He's still the standard for all Bonds.

      This was the weaker of the two Bond films that Dalton did and I liked "License to Kill" much more. Joe Don Baker didn't impress me as the villain (I preferred him as Wade in the Brosnan films)and while I like Jon Rhys Davies, he didn't have good enough material to work with here. D'Abo was a mediocre leading lady/love interest.

      Not a great beginning to Dalton's brief run as Bond but fortunately, something better was in store for his second outing.


    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Mentalist. Roger Ebert didn't like Dalton much but he liked the next film more. Dalton's brooding helped him nab the role of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights back in the 70's.

      I think all the Bond films had ace cinematography and great locations, except maybe the two Daniel Craig films where all the fast cutting and shaky camera work didn't let us get a good look at where Bond was. I blame the Bourne films. :)

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I see Dalton was more approved of than I was under the impression of...I've only seen Dalton's movies once and remember a serious,brooding performance bordering on stiff..but I enjoyed the plots...and perhaps I've missed something but I've never heard much about,to me,the wonderful cinematography involving all the glorious locations.;)

      Another outstanding and professional filmography Steve.;))

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks A.A. Zavala. Maryam was pretty and at her sexiest as the would be sniper with rifle. Yep I've always had a thing for girls with guns... :)

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Maryam d’Abo, I had a crush on her for years after this movie. I didn't know that Aha did the sound track though. Awesome hub!

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Hi Flora, a lot of people didn't like Dalton as Bond because he was so darn serious, especially coming after Moore's seven movie run in the role. But I thought he was great, a real shame he didn't get to do one more.

      Dalton was a fab villain in The Rocketeer, and a lot more humorous and flamboyant as the Nazi spy in that than he was playing Bond.

      We had six actors playing Bond and each brought a different flavour to the role which is fascinating. :)

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I have to admit that I have never seen either of Timothy Dalton's Bond films nor do I have interest in seeing them. I'm just not interested in Dalton. In reference to future hubs, I'm a Brosnan fan from his Remmington Steele days-I've seen all of his. I haven't seen the current actor's films. I can imagine myself eventually watching Casino Royale since it follows the book (I've not seen the parody), but not ones that are just made up. I know Moore isn't Connery, but Moore is a joy to watch. oh, well.