More evidence that, had he started a few years earlier and had more 007 movies under his belt, he would have contended as the best Bond ever. Unfortunately, legal problems plagued the studio during his time. Timothy Dalton took over the part of James Bond at a time when the EON film series had veered far away from their literary source, and approached the role with the Ian Fleming novels and stories as the essence and foundation. In the press conference that officially introduced Timothy Dalton as the new James Bond, the actor noted that "I approached this project [the film The Living Daylights] with a sense of responsibility to the work of Ian Fleming." He went on to discuss his interpretation of the Bond role further: "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. Therefore, I think some of the qualities we might associate with Bond, the qualities we´ve seen in this series of movies, the qualities that Ian Fleming wrote so well about, reflect that sense of danger in his own life the qualities of the man are very much the qualities of someone who lives on the edge of his life." In the novel Moonraker, Fleming describes Bond´s "ambition to have as little as possible in his banking account when he was killed, as, when he was depressed, he knew he would be, before the statutory age of forty-five." In Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming writes that there are times when a secret agent "takes refuge in good living to efface the memory of danger and the shadow of death." Dalton captures this idea of somebody who lives in "the shadow of death." Within the parameters of the scripts he was given, in his two cinematic appearances as James Bond, Timothy Dalton brought a welcome course correction to the film series, porting the core essence of Ian Fleming´s immortal secret agent to the screen. In Fleming´s writing, James Bond is vulnerable to the sheer tension that the danger of his job inspires. Fleming writes of this in "The Living Daylights," the short story that inspired the first Dalton 007 film, with Bond returning to the apartment in Berlin where he must assassinate a KGB sniper, and gives "a light hearted account of his day while an artery near his solar plexus began thumping gently as tension build up inside him like a watch-spring tightening." While on the job and building up to a potentially deadly situation, Fleming´s Bond is a curt, focused professional. Dalton portrays this best in the introductory sections of The Living Daylights, often in smaller movements or gestures. As Bond and Saunders ("Head of Station V, Vienna") are about to step into the door of the building where 007 must kill the sniper, Dalton coolly glances both ways down the street, scanning for threats, and does the same briefly when they enter the ground floor room. "Turn off the lights," he almost snaps to Saunders, capturing some of the displeasure Bond feels in Fleming´s short story, where 007 notes the sight of Captain Paul Sender´s tie (the Saunders equivalent in the short story) and his "spirits, already low, sank another degree He knew the type: backbone of the civil service; over-crammed and under-loved at Winchester " His opinion of Saunders as an officious bureaucrat is revealed in Dalton´s contemptuous glance at him and curt tone as he counters Saunder´s assumption of ammunition type with "No, the steel-tipped. KGB snipers usually wear body armour." Dalton shows the mild contempt through his clipped responses to Saunders, while allowing the buried coilsprings of tension to surface, in sometimes subtle ways. There is a small, almost imperceptible moment, where Dalton sits on the bed, preparing his sniper rifle, and his fingers slip as he loads the bullets into the rifle cartridge. Perhaps my favourite moment where Dalton portrays this subsurface tension is where he, sniper rifle in hand and ready for the kill, turns to Saunders, exhales distinctly, and quietly asks him to "Bring the chair." Compare that moment with Fleming´s Daylights: "Bond said, Yes.´ He said it softly. The scent of the enemy, the need to take care, already had him by the nerves." Fleming´s Bond takes brief refuge in sensual, carnal pleasures to help steel his nerves for the coming confrontation. In the beginning of the film version, which follows the basic plot of the short story, Dalton scans the crowd at a music recital, looking for the defector Koskov, and casually notes the "lovely girl with the cello." His expression while he says the line is a small, tight-lipped smile, an indication of the underlying tension as he gratefully takes in the beauty of Kara Milovy. An underlying distaste and loathing for his profession also manifests in Fleming´s Bond stories, and this is another facet that Dalton brings to the screen. After Saunders expresses his anger at Bond´s commandeering of Koskov´s rescue and threatens to report to M that he deliberately missed shooting Kara, Dalton snaps back "Stuff my orders. I only kill professionals Go ahead, tell him what you want. If he fires me, I´ll thank him for it." Dalton´s forceful delivery of this dialogue, tinged with an edge of cruelty and contempt, brings out James Bond´s uneasy relationship with the hard, soul-eroding surfaces of his double-o status. Dalton is helped by similarities to some lines from the Fleming original: "Look, my friend," said Bond wearily, "I´ve got to commit a murder tonight. Not you. Me. So be a good chap and stuff it, would you? You can tell Tanqueray anything you like when it´s over. Think I like this job? Having a Double-O number and so on? I´d be quite happy for you to get me sacked from the Double-O Section. Then I could settle down and make a snug nest of papers as an ordinary Staffer. Right?" (Sidenote: It´s amazingly easy to imagine Dalton delivering those lines exactly as written by Ian Fleming.) Fleming´s Bond has an uneasy relationship with the killing that is a necessary part of the job of a double-o. In Chapter I of Goldfinger, Fleming details Bond´s self-reflection after completing a kill for Her Majesty´s Secret Service: "It was part of his profession to kill people. He had never liked doing it and when he had to kill he did it as well as he knew how and forgot about it." Though it is "his duty to be as cool about death as a surgeon," James Bond finds himself running the death over and over in his head, a signal that a part of the secret agent is uncomfortable with executing his licence to kill. Dalton´s performance in the opening of The Living Daylights captures this weariness, this tense introspectiveness, and brings it out through his clipped, almost cynical line delivery, quietly bringing to the surface the Bond that has an inner struggle between professional killer and the regret that lingers in his soul. Much more at the link.