Is Timothy Dalton The Best Bond?

Dalton. Timothy Dalton. The Bond from Colwyn Bay.

The only actor to play properly Ian Fleming’s flinty, suave, misogynist, raven-haired double-O.

Before the current Daniel Craig fan mob hurl their sky-blue Speedos at me, I’m not saying Craig is bad – Casino Royale was electrifying, even if Quantum Of Nonsense offered little solace.

No, this is a purist, geeky proclamation.

First, my stall:

Connery – charismatic, sardonic standard.

Lazenby – lithe Antipodean undone by arch self-awareness.

Moore – two words: hover gondola.

Brosnan – aped Connery with a trace of Moore-ish smarm.

Craig – most brazen 007 ever to quaff a vodka martini.

Back in ’85, after a decade of overblown fantasy propping up Sir Rog’s ageing-lothario act (he’s three years older than Connery), Rada-trained Dalton fit Fleming’s blueprint perfectly: “black hair falling down over the right eyebrow… something cruel in the mouth and the eyes cold.”

Is Bond charming? When called for.

Does he have a way with the ladies? Always.

Will he get pissed on vodka martinis, roughly bed a girl, then cold-bloodedly plug a slug in the noggin of a rival spook? Without hesitation.

In Glasnost thriller The Living Daylights and rogue-spy revenger Licence To Kill , Dalton brought Fleming’s fractured, damaged psychology back to Bond.

Rugged, vital and physical, his outlook was typified by his self-appraisal to Robert Davi’s drug lord Sanchez. “I’m more of a problem eliminator,” he said.

“The movies had lost track,” Dalton said in 1987. “It’s important to make the man believable. Whether people like this kind of Bond is another question…”

And the answer? Critics responded well to a Bond who kills, drinks and shags away inner turmoil, but the public simply didn’t get it, with 1989’s Licence marking a franchise box-office low point.

Sure it ranks above From Russia With Love , but Connery’s sophomore outing was counted in shillings…

Maybe it was Dalton’s lack of humour, too much of a u-turn from 1985’s A View To A Kill and not clicking with viewers who, frankly, couldn’t care less about his commitment to realism and stuntwork.

Or maybe Dalton was just ahead of his time.

Twenty years on, when Cubby Broccoli’s daughter Barbara and stepson Michael G Wilson re-tried rough-and-tough Bond with Craig the results were far more successful.

Thing is, contrary to casual musing, Dalton was not dropped by the producers but fell victim to time.

Legal wranglings kept Bond off the screen until 1995, by which point Dalton had had enough. The world wasn’t ready for his mentally scarred Bond, so he hung up his gunbelt.

Now, in a post-Bourne world, surely it’s time to acknowledge that Dalton’s was the true screen Bond… Or is it just me?

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