Make us your home page

5 reasons why Timothy Dalton might have been the best James Bond ever

James bond
Who is the ultimate James Bond?
It's an argument that crosses generations. Just like people who say Lady Gaga is totally original (when in fact she's just this generation's Madonna), it's a debate nobody's going to win in an honorable manner.

However, with the Florida Orchestra devoting an entire weekend to the great James Bond themes and songs of the last few decades, I figure it's time for me to make the case once and for all.

The answer: Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond of the bunch.

You're scoffing. I can hear it all the way over here. But here is my rationale...


5. THE CRITICS DIDN'T LIKE HIM: No offense to movie critics, but they're usually the last people who appreciate any film franchise. They uniformly hate Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens and yes, James Bond. Of Dalton's role in 1987's The Living Daylights, Chicago Sun-Times legend Roger Ebert wrote: "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." I'd hardly call the character of James Bond a joke. But I'm not a professional movie critic either.

4. HE WAS IAN FLEMING'S BOND: Lest we forget, James Bond was a creation of Ian Fleming, who imagined the British secret agent as much more human and hard-edged than Sean Connery or Roger Moore projected. Bond, Fleming wrote, lived in the "shadow of death." It was a vision not lost on Dalton. At the press conference announcing him as the new Bond, Dalton said, "The essential quality of James Bond is a man who lives on the edge…he never knows when, at any moment, he might be killed."

3. HE DIDN'T OVERSTAY THE ROLE: Both Moore and Connery stuck with the franchise for two or three movies too long apiece. (Never Say Never Again? Oh, Mr. Connery, no.) Bond was never meant to look like a grandfather. Pierce Brosnan, who like Dalton was involuntarily removed from the 007 series, still looked fresh after four flicks. Daniel Craig looks leathery and lethargic after only two.

2. HE'S THE ONLY TRUE '80s BOND: Both of Dalton's 007 movies came in the '80s, and I refuse to apologize for that seemingly unimportant factor. In the movies following 1989's License to Kill, technology and special effects became the real star of Bond movies, and not the actor. I consider The Living Daylights and License to Kill the last two movies that captured the spirit of James Bond.

1. THE INTANGIBLES: It always boils down to the small details. The franchise was dead and buried after the dreadful A View to a Kill, easily the worst or second-worst movie (Moonraker... eww) to date, before Dalton breathed new life into it. Dalton enjoyed the last two great theme songs. Like Moore, his career will always be highlighted by his turn as Bond. And his final film featured a fantastic cameo by Wayne Newton. Everything is better with Newton.

[Still want to hear more? If you can't make this weekend's Classic Bond shows by the Florida Orchestra, at least go and re-listen to our Bond in the '80s podcast. It has the best opening skit ever.]

[Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:43am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours