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TLD copy

The Living Daylights




Certificate: PG

Released: 30 June 1987 (UK)

Director: John Glen

Producer: Albert R. Broccoli,  Michael G. Wilson

Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam d’Abo and Jeroen Krabbé

Screenwriters: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Michael G. Wilson(screenplay)

Running Time: 130 min

Trailer:  YouTube Preview Image


What’s Good?

Playing to Dalton’s strengths as an actor, and with the intention of returning the tone of the series back to the early 60’s Bond films, the franchise gets a much needed reboot from the worn-out Roger Moore era. From its brilliant opening in Gibraltar, the film returns to its Fleming roots (also faithfully adapting the short story the film is based on), with Dalton displaying a world weariness that slowly crept into the later novels, reflecting Fleming’s life perspective  and state of health at the time. The Aston Martin also makes a welcome return to the series (last seen being shot at in OHMSS), with the gadgets for once not spoiling the film, but instead adding to the excitement of the action sequences.

This would also sadly prove to be John Barry’s last ever score for Bond, in what is a cleverly modernised and pulsating soundtrack, keeping with the times.


What’s Bad?

The script still has a hangover from the Moore era attached to it, where quips and witty one-liners that would have sounded perfect for Moore, didn’t quite work with the more serious thespian Dalton uttering them. The plot becomes unnecessarily complicated in parts, and the film lacks a decent villain. Other than that, The Living Daylights is a refreshing change of direction for the series.



The Living Daylights (1987) is the fifteenth entry in the James Bond series and the first to star Timothy Dalton as the fictional MI6 agent. The film’s title is taken from Ian Fleming’s short story, “The Living Daylights”. It was the last film to use the title of an Ian Fleming story until Casino Royale (2006).

The beginning of the film resembles the short story, in which Bond acts as a counter-sniper to protect a Soviet defector, Georgi Koskov. He tells Bond that General Pushkin, head of the KGB, is systematically killing British and American agents. When Koskov is seemingly snatched back, Bond follows him across Europe,Morocco and Afghanistan.

The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli, his stepson Michael G. Wilson, and his daughter Barbara Broccoli. The Living Daylights was generally well received by most critics and was also a financial success, grossing $US191.2 million worldwide.


The Book

The Living Daylights was part of a collection of three short stories, under the title Octopussy. At a time when the films often shared no more than the title, the major recurring characters, and some character names with the book, the plot of “The Living Daylights” was used almost untouched in the film of the same name, setting up the rest of the film. Bond finishes the segment with the same words as his literary counterpart; “I must have scared the living daylights out of her”. The character of Trigger is changed from a professional sniper to that of cello player Kara Milovy. The antagonist of the film has a weapon obsession, much like the villain in the novel Licence Renewed.



James Bond is assigned to conduct the defection of a KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov, covering his intermission escape from a concert hall in Bratislava. During the mission, Bond notices that the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov’s escape is a female cellist from the orchestra. In his post-defection debriefing, Koskov informs MI6 that the KGB’s old policy of Smert’ Spionam, meaning Death to Spies, has been revived by General Leonid Pushkin, the new head of the KGB. Koskov is later abducted from the safe-house and assumed to have been taken back to Moscow. Bond is directed to track down Pushkin in Tangier and kill him in order to forestall further killings of agents and escalation of tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. Although Bond’s prior knowledge of Pushkin initially leads him to doubt Koskov’s claims, he agrees to carry out the mission when he learns that the assassin who killed 004 (as depicted in the pre-title sequence) left a note bearing the same message, “Smert Spionam.”


Necros, Brad Whitaker and General Georgi Koskov in Tangier.


Bond returns to Bratislava to track down the cellist, Kara Milovy. He determines that Koskov’s entire defection was staged, and that Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend. Bond convinces Milovy that he is a friend of Koskov’s and persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, supposedly to be reunited with him. Meanwhile, Pushkin meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is cancelling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker.

During his brief tryst with Milovy in Vienna, Bond meets his MI6 ally, Saunders, who discovers a history of financial dealings between Koskov and Whitaker. As he leaves their meeting, Saunders is killed by Necros (Koskov and Whitaker’s henchman), who again leaves the message “Smert Spionam.”

Bond and Milovy promptly leave for Tangier, where Bond confronts Pushkin. Pushkin disavows any knowledge of “Smert Spionam”, and reveals that Koskov is evading arrest for embezzlement of government funds. Bond fakes Pushkin’s assassination, inducing Whitaker and Koskov to progress with their scheme. Meanwhile, Milovy contacts Koskov, who tells her that Bond is actually a KGB agent and convinces her to drug him so he can be captured.

Koskov, Necros, Milovy, and the captive Bond fly to a Soviet air base in Afghanistan, where Koskov betrays Milovy and imprisons her along with Bond. The pair escape and in doing so free a condemned prisoner, Kamran Shah, leader of the local Mujahideen. Bond and Milovy discover that Koskov is using Soviet funds to buy a massive shipment of opium from the Mujahideen, intending to keep the profits with enough left over to supply the Soviets with their arms.


James Bond and Kara Milovy in Vienna.


With the Mujahideen’s help, Bond plants a bomb aboard the cargo plane carrying the opium, but is spotted and has no choice but to barricade himself in the plane. Milovy drives a jeep into the back of the plane as they take off, and Necros also leaps aboard at the last second. After a struggle, Bond throws Necros to his death and deactivates the bomb.

The film concludes with Bond returning to Tangier to dispatch Whitaker, as Pushkin arrests Koskov.



Timothy Dalton as James Bond: an MI6 agent assigned to look into the deaths of and conspiracies against several of his allies.

Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy: Koskov’s girlfriend.

Jeroen Krabbé as General Georgi Koskov: Main villain and a renegade Soviet general.

Joe Don Baker as Brad Whitaker: An American arms dealer and self-styled general. Baker called his character “a nut” who “thought he was Napoleon”.[1]

John Rhys-Davies as General Leonid Pushkin: The new head of the KGB, replacing General Gogol.

Art Malik as Kamran Shah: a leader in the Mujahideen.

Andreas Wisniewski as Necros: Koskov’s henchman, who poses repeated threats to Bond.

Thomas Wheatley as Saunders: Bond’s ally.

Robert Brown as M: The strict head of MI6.

Desmond Llewelyn as Q: MI6′s “quartermaster”, who supplies Bond with multi-purpose vehicles and gadgets useful in the latter’s mission.

Geoffrey Keen as Frederick Gray: The British Minister of Defence

Caroline Bliss as Miss Moneypenny: M’s secretary.

John Terry as Felix Leiter: A CIA agent and ally to Bond.

Walter Gotell as General Gogol: The retired head of the KGB, now a diplomat shown in a cameo at the end of the film.

Julie T. Wallace as Rosika Miklos: James Bond’s contact in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia who works at the TransSiberian Pipline.

Nadim Sawalha cameos as a police chief in Tangiers. Sawalha also appeared in a previous 007 film, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), as Aziz Fekkesh.



Originally the film was proposed to be a prequel in the series, an idea that eventually resurfaced with the “reboot” of the franchise in 2006. SMERSH’s acronym from Fleming’s novel’s “Smiert Shpionam” – “Death to spies” – formed the storyline.[2]



In Autumn 1985, following the financial success, but critical disappointment, of A View to a Kill, work began on scripts for the next Bond film, with the intention that Roger Moore would once again reprise the role of James Bond. However, Moore, who by the time of the release of The Living Daylights would have been aged 59, decided to retire from the role after 12 successful years and 7 films. This led to a significant search for a new actor to play Bond. Timothy Dalton, Sam Neill,[2] Lewis Collins, and Pierce Brosnan were screen-tested for the role in 1986. Dalton had been considered to replace Sean Connery in 1968, which he refused feeling that he was too young.[3] He was originally the producers’ first choice for The Living Daylights but turned down the role because he was busy with the film version of Brenda Starr,[4] while Collins and Neill failed the screen-test.


The official car the Aston Martin V8 Vantage (Series 2) at a James Bond convention.


The producers offered the role to Brosnan after a three-day screen-test.[5] At the time, he was contracted to the television show Remington Steele which had been cancelled by the NBC network due to falling ratings. The announcement that he would be chosen to play James Bond caused a surge in interest in the series, which led to NBC exercising (on the very last day) a 60-day option in Brosnan’s contract to make a further season of the show. NBC’s action caused drastic repercussions, as a result of which Albert R. Broccoli withdrew the offer given to Brosnan, citing that he did not want the character associated with a contemporary TV series. Not surprisingly, this led to a drop in interest in Remington Steele, and only 5 new episodes were filmed before the show was finally cancelled.[6] The edict from Broccoli was that “Remington Steelewill not be James Bond.”[7]

In the intervening period, Dalton was offered the role once again, which he accepted.[8] For a period, the filmmakers had got Dalton, but he had not signed a contract. A casting director persuaded Robert Bathurst, an actor who would become known for his roles in Joking Apart and Cold Feet, to audition for Bond. Bathurst believes that his “ludicrous audition” was only “an arm-twisting exercise” because the producers wanted to persuade Dalton to take the role by telling him they were still auditioning other actors.[9]

Maryam d’Abo, a former model, was cast as the Czech cellist Kara Milovy. In 1984, d’Abo had attended auditions for the role of Pola Ivanova in A View To a Kill. Barbara Broccoli included d’Abo in the audition for playing Kara which she later passed.[10]

Originally, the KGB general set up by Koskov was to be General Gogol; however, Walter Gotell was too sick to handle the major role, and the character of Leonid Pushkin replaced Gogol, who appears briefly at the end of the film, having transferred to the Soviet diplomatic service. This was Gogol’s final appearance in a James Bond film. Morten Harket, the lead vocalist of the rock group a-ha (which performed the film’s title song), was offered a small role as a villain’s henchman in the film, but declined, because of lack of time and because he felt they wanted to cast him due to his popularity rather than his acting.

Director John Glen decided to include the macaw from For Your Eyes Only. It was seen chirping in the kitchen of Blayden House when Necros attacks MI6′s officers.

Other actors considered for the role of James Bond included; Mel Gibson, Mark Greenstreet, Lambert Wilson, Antony Hamilton, Christopher Lambert, Findlay Light, Andrew Clarke and Sean Bean (who would later play 006 in GoldenEye)



The film was shot at the Pinewood Studios at its 007 Stage in UK, as well as Weissensee in Austria. The pre-title sequence was filmed on the Rock of Gibraltar and although the sequence shows a hijackedLand Rover careering down various sections of road over several minutes before bursting through a wall and towards the sea, the location mostly used the same short stretch of road, at the very top of the Rock, shot from numerous different angles. It is rumoured the producers felt the RAF station didn’t look military enough for the sequence, so fake barbed wire, additional security signs and other set dressings were added, some of which remain in place to this day. The beach defences seen at the foot of the Rock in the initial shot were also added solely for the film, to an otherwise non-military area. The action involving the Land Rover switched from Gibraltar, to Beachy Head in the UK for the shot showing the vehicle actually getting airborne. Trial runs of the stunt with the Land Rover, during which Bond escapes by parachute from the tumbling vehicle, were filmed in the Mojave Desert.[11] although the final cut of the film uses a shot achieved using a dummy. Other locations included Germany, the United States, and Italy. The desert scenes were done in Ouarzazate, Morocco. The conclusion of the film included the Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna and Elveden Hall, Suffolk.

Principal photography commenced at Gibraltar on 17 September 1986. Aerial stuntmen B.J. Worth and Jake Lombard performed to the pre-credits parachute jump.[12] Both the terrain and wind were unfavourable. Consideration was given to the stunt being done using cranes but aerial stunts arranger B.J. Worth stuck to skydiving and completed the scenes in a day.[13] The aircraft used for the jump was a C-130 Hercules, which in the film had M’s office installed in the aircraft cabin. The initial point of view for the scene shows M in what appears to be his usual London office, but the camera then zooms out to reveal that it is, in fact, inside an aircraft. Although marked as a Royal Air Force aircraft, the one in shot belonged to the Spanish Air Force and was used again later in the film for the Afghanistan sequences this time in “Russian” markings. During this later chapter, a fight breaks out on the open ramp of the aircraft in flight between Bond and Necros, before Necros falls to his death. Although the plot and preceding shots suggest the aircraft is a C-130, the shot of Necros falling away from the aircraft show a twin engine cargo plane, a C-123 Provider.


Stonor House


The press would not meet Dalton and d’Abo until 5 October 1986, when the main unit travelled to Vienna.[14] Almost two weeks after the second unit filming on Gibraltar, the first unit started shooting with Andreas Wisniewski and stunt man Bill Weston.[4] During the course of these three days it took to film this fight Weston fractured a finger, and Wisniewski knocked him out once.[15] The next day finds the crew on location at Stonor House doubling for Bladen’s Safe House, the first scene Jeroen Krabbé filmed.[16]


The return of Aston Martin

The film reunites Bond with British car maker Aston Martin. Following Bond’s use of the Aston Martin DBS in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the filmmakers then turned to the brand new Lotus Esprit in 1977s The Spy Who Loved Me, which reappeared four years later in For Your Eyes Only. Despite the iconic status of the submersible Lotus however, Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 is recognised as the most famous of his vehicles. As a consequence, Aston Martin returned with their V8 Vantage.

The car (B549 WUU) in the film is somewhat confusing. At the beginning of the film, the car appears at the Bladen safe house as a V8 Volante (convertible), complete with Volante badges. The car used in these scenes was a production Volante owned by Aston Martin Lagonda chairman, Victor Gauntlett. Later, for the Czechoslovakia scenes, the car is fitted with a hardtop (“winterised”) at Q Branch, and these scenes feature a non-Volante V8 saloon, fitted with the same number plate and badges as the initial car. Two cars were used during later filming. Clearly, the later cars are intended to be the same open top car that Bond uses at Bladen, but the modification from soft top to hard top was entirely fictional and simply isn’t possible with real examples of the cars.



The Living Daylights was the final Bond film to be scored by composer John Barry. The soundtrack is notable for its introduction of sequenced electronic rhythm tracks overdubbed with the orchestra—at the time, a relatively new innovation.

The title song of the film, “The Living Daylights”, was recorded by the Norwegian pop-music group a-ha. The group and Barry did not collaborate well, resulting in two versions of the theme song.[17] Barry’s film mix is heard on the soundtrack (and on a-ha’s later greatest hits album Headlines and Deadlines). The version preferred by the band can be heard on the 1988 a-ha album Stay on These Roads. However, in 2006 a-ha member Pal Waaktaar complimented Barry’s contributions “I loved the stuff he added to the track, I mean it gave it this really cool string arrangement. That’s when for me it started to sound like a Bond thing”.[17] . The title song is one of very few 007 title songs that is not performed / written by a British or American performer in the history of the series.

In a departure from conventions of previous Bond films, the film uses different songs over the opening and end credits (a trend that would continue until 2006, when “You Know My Name”, the Chris Cornell song that served as the title song for Casino Royale, was also played over the last half of the end credits for that same film). The song heard over the end credits, “If There Was A Man”, was one of two songs performed for the film by Chrissie Hynde, of The Pretenders. The other song, “Where Has Everybody Gone”, is heard from Necros’s Walkman in the film. The Pretenders were originally considered to perform Daylights’ title song. However, the producers had been pleased with the commercial success of Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill”, and felt that a-ha would be more likely to make an impact in the charts.[18]

The original soundtrack release was released on LP and CD by Warner Bros. and featured only 12 tracks. Later re-releases by Rykodisc and EMI added nine additional tracks, including alternate instrumental end credits music. Rykodisc’s version included the gunbarrel and opening sequence of the film as well as the jailbreak sequence, and the bombing of the bridge.[19]

Additionally, the film featured a number of pieces of classical music, as the main Bond girl, Kara Milovy, is a cellist. Mozart’s 40th Symphony in G minor (1st movement) is performed by the orchestra at the Conservatoire in Bratislava when Koskov flees.[20] As Moneypenny tells Bond, Kara is next to perform Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet in D major.[21] and the finale to Act II of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (in Vienna) also feature.[22] Before Bond is drugged by Kara, Kara is practicing the Cello solo from the first movement of Dvořák’s cello concerto in B minor.[23] At the end of the film, Kara and an orchestra performTchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations to rapturous applause.


Release and reception

The Prince and Princess of Wales attended the film’s premiere on 27 June 1987 at the Odeon Leicester Square Cinema in London.[24] The Living Daylights grossed the equivalent of $US191.2 million worldwide.[25] In the United States it earned $US51,185,000.,[26] including an opening weekend of $US11,051,284,[27] surpassing the $US5 million grossed by The Lost Boys that was released on the same day.[28]

In the film, Koskov and Whitaker repeatedly use vehicles and drug packets marked with the Red Cross. This action angered a number of Red Cross Societies, which sent letters of protest regarding the film. In addition, the British Red Cross attempted to prosecute the filmmakers and distributors. However, no legal action was taken.[29][30] As a result, a disclaimer was added at the start of the film and some DVD releases.

The Living Daylights has a “Fresh” score of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.[31] IGN lauded the film for bringing back realism and espionage to the franchise and showing James Bond’s dark side.[32] Many including John J. Puccio and Chuck O’Leary praised Timothy Dalton’s performance and his performing most of the stunts himself.[33] The Washington Post even said Dalton developed “the best Bond ever.”[34] However, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times criticised the lack of humour in the protagonist.[31]


Broadcast television versions

The Living Daylights was the last James Bond movie to make its American network broadcast television premiere on ABC (1990). This version omitted such scenes as 004′s grotesque thud as his body slams against the cliffs of Gibraltar. Also omitted is the part where Russian soldiers are caught without pants in the barracks shower during the fight scene at the Russian air base in Afghanistan.



  1.  Joe Don Baker. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD]. MGM Home Entertainment.
  2.  a b Michael G. Wilson. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  3.  Dana Broccoli. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  4.  a b Patrick Macnee. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  5.  John Glen. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  6.  Last, Kimberly (1996). “Pierce Brosnan’s Long and Winding Road To Bond”. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
  7.  Peter Lamont. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  8.  Maryam d’Abo. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  9.  McCaffrey, Julie (22 February 2003). “Bathurst’s cure for cold feet”Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  10.  “The Living Daylights” Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  11.  John Richardson. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  12.  Jake Lombard. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  13.  B.J. Worth, Jake Lombard, Arthur Wooster. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  14.  “Production Notes (The Living Daylights)” Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  15.  Andreas Wisniewski. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  16.  Jeroen Krabbé. Inside The Living Daylights. [DVD].
  17.  a b James Bond’s Greatest Hits. [Television]. UK: North One Television. 2006.
  18.  “The Living Daylights”. Fastrac Publications. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  19.  “The Living Daylights”SoundtrackNet. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  20.  Mozart: Popular Music from Film Disc: 2
  21.  Classics at the Movies II CD 2 Catalogue Number: 4765940
  22.  Campbell, Margaret, The Great Cellists (North Pomfret, Vermont: Trafalger Square Publishing, 1988).
  23.  The Living Daylights (1987) – Soundtracks
  24.  Smith, Duncan J. D. (2008). “007 IN VIENNA”. Only In Vienna: A Guide to Hidden Corners, Little-known Places and Unusual Objects. Christian Brandstätter Verlag. ISBN 3854984138.
  25.  “Box Office History for James Bond Movies” Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  26.  “The Living Daylights”Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  27.  “The Living Daylights: Weekend collections”Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  28.  “1987 Domestic Grosses”Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  29.  “Protecting the Emblems in peacetime: the experiences of the British Red Cross Society”. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
  30.  “Protection of the red cross and red crescent emblems and the repression of misuse”. 1989-10-31. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  31.  a b “The Living Daylights”Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  32.  “James Bond’s Top 20 – Movies feature – at IGN”. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  33.  “MSN rate the James Bond films from best to worst !!!! Awesome !!!! – Forums”. 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  34.  “‘The Living Daylights’ (PG)”. 1987-07-31. Retrieved 2010-05-01.


External links






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