Why Timothy Dalton is the best James Bond

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It’s an age old question…who was the best actor to portray James Bond? Spanning fifty years and a gazillion movies, each generation has it’s own opinion. I’d like to offer an objective analysis of why Timothy Dalton is the best actor to take up the mantle of Bond.

I would submit that Dalton was the best Bond because he was, for want of a better word, completely realistic. Dalton wasn’t a pretty boy, like Brosnan; he didn’t ham it up for the jokes like Moore; he didn’t spend the whole movie sleeping with anything that had a pulse like Connery (as iconic as his portrayal was); I won’t even dignify Lazenby with a response. Hell, Timothy Dalton had a receding hairline! He was dark, gritty, and serious. In other words, totally real. He brought humanity to James Bond, taking him from some near-caricature of the character Fleming envisioned to someone viewers could identify with.

Dalton’s first movie, “The Living Daylights,” out-grossed the previous film, Moore’s “A View to a Kill” at the box office. Off to a good start. However, when MGM chose to release “License To Kill” against Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” it was all but destined to fail, which it did. But that’s poor planning on the studio’s part, not because of Dalton’s portrayal. Dalton was contracted for a third movie, but for various reasons the movie kept being pushed back until finally his contract expired and he dropped out.

I believe that if Dalton had made that third movie, he wouldn’t have faded into Bond obscurity. The only actor who even comes close to Dalton’s portrayal, in my opinion, is Craig. He has that same sort of grittiness to him– he’s not so impossibly good looking, debonaire, or filled with lame sex puns that he induces eye rolls.

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7 thoughts on “Why Timothy Dalton is the best James Bond

  1. I never saw any of the Dalton Bond movies so cannot judge. Of the others Bonds, I judge Craig as the best. He’s strong, fearless and vulnerable in ways none of the previous Bond stars have been. And he has the looks and masculinity that I adore 🙂

  2. Craig is a better match for the character of Bond (a dull thug, a weapon to be unleashed by the government), but Dalton is a much better physical match for the descriptions given in the original books. If you look at pictures of Hoagy Carmichael, Fleming’s original choice for Bond, there’s an eerie resemblance to Dalton in the long face and high forehead.

    1. I agree 100% about the resemblance. Fleming mentions Carmichael in both “Casino Royale” and “Moonraker” as being whom James Bond resembles; plus Dalton’s more serious portrayal came much closer to the Bond of the novels in general. I believe that Daniel Craig’s similar brooding portrayal is more acceptable by audiences today because big budget thrillers have changed in the past two decades and audiences don’t care as much for whimsical heroes as they did in earlier decades.

      1. Though Hoagy Carmichael was not the person whom Fleming originally wanted for James Bond. Cary Grant was. (Some sources say that he also considered Trevor Howard.)

  3. I had NO idea that Hoagy Carmichael was considered for Bond, but then I can’t think of Hoagy Carmichael as other than a composer and singer. But you’re right: Dalton has a marked resemblance to Carmichael: the long narrow face, cheekbones, etc.

  4. As I started reading Fleming’s Bond short stories, I pictured Sean Connery. As I finished reading all the short stories, then moved on to his novels, Timothy Dalton took over. Dalton’s very human portrayal of James Bond, plus his looks, fits very well in the novels.

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