Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent
Bratislava, Fall 1986
Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
Happy birthday to Timothy Dalton, born 74 years ago today on March 21, 1946! To celebrate the Welsh actor’s birthday, I want to revisit Dalton’s debut as James Bond, bringing a serious, Ian Fleming-influenced approach two decades before Daniel Craig would approach the role in a similar manner.
Dalton had long been a contender for the role, turning it down twice due to his youth when the filmmakers sought a replacement for Sean Connery and then for George Lazenby. When it was unclear if Roger Moore would return for his trio of 007 films in the ’80s, Dalton’s name came up each time, but it wasn’t until Pierce Brosnan was contractually obligated to turn down the role to return to Remington Steele in 1986 that a pathway was finally opened for Dalton, then 40 years old and seasoned enough to play the agent, to slip into Bond’s finely tailored dinner jacket for The Living Daylights.
The Living Daylights was inspired by one of Fleming’s own short stories, deriving from 007’s line in both the story and film when he quips that he must have “scared the living daylights” out of a beautiful female sniper that he was assigned to shoot during a KGB agent’s defection. Unable to fire the fatal shot in both instances, the line concludes the short story while the movie itself is only just beginning as Bond takes the next step to investigate the supposed sniper—a blonde cellist named Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo)—and her connection to the defector.
What’d He Wear?
Saunders: You’re bloody late. This is a mission, not a fancy dress ball.
Bond: We have time.
If Saunders (Thomas Wheatley), head of section V in Vienna, wasn’t impressed with Bond’s sharp attire in The Living Daylights, he should have waited to see Dalton in Licence to Kill when he would really have something to complain about! (Though Saunders’ comment could also be considered a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that, in Ian Fleming’s story, Bond and Saunders’ literary counterpart Captain Sendler merely spend their three days waiting in a drab Berlin apartment rather than meeting up at an opulent concert.)
Saunders’ criticism that “this is a mission, not a fancy dress ball!” is used by 007 sartorial expert Matt Spaiser to introduce his own article about Dalton’s first dinner jacket on his authoritative blog, The Suits of James Bond, which I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about James Bond’s clothing or tailored menswear in general.
Dalton’s first on-screen dinner jacket is arguably the most elegant of his two 007 outings, at least until he converts it into a tactical shooting jacket. But before that happens, Bond dresses quite appropriately for an evening concert in a black wool dinner jacket with a broad, satin-faced shawl collar that rolls to a satin-covered, single-button front. The ventless jacket has four satin-covered buttons at the end of each sleeve, jetted hip pockets, and a welted breast pocket that he wears with no pocket square, likely to avoid having a patch of visible white that he would just have to tuck away when taking up his position in the window.
From Sean Connery’s first Bond appearance on, we’ve always been reminded of how much care Bond puts into his clothes, though Dalton’s Bond breaks the mold by showing how his clothing emphasizes function over form. Working under the assumption that he needs to conceal himself from a trained marksman across the street, Bond merely turns up the shawl collar of his dinner jacket, fastening it with a velcro strap that extends across the neck, thus shrouding his potentially conspicuous white shirt from the enemy sniper.
A dinner jacket with a tactically oriented shawl collar like this serves no practical purpose in the real world for most of us (though I’d love to hear your suggestions for when this could come in handy), but it’s a minor character detail that further illustrates the wonderfully escapist world of James Bond, a place of alluring international intrigue where elegantly dressed men and women break away from concerts, take up arms, and tensely oversee a defection from seedy upper floors.
The dinner jacket that folds into a sniper’s garment is a more cinematic version of the story’s black velvet hood that is already “laid out like sinister evening clothes” for Bond to wear during his three days of waiting in a drab rented apartment at the corner of the Kochstrasse and the Wilhelmstrasse overlooking “Checkpoint Charlie” in Berlin.
When the jacket’s shawl collar is worn correctly flattened against the rest of the jacket, we see Bond’s white formal shirt with its spread collar and narrowly pleated front fastened with mother-of-pearl buttons. The double (French) cuffs are fastened with a set of ornate gold links.
Luckily for the tactical requirements of 007’s mission, fashionable bow ties were back to a more reasonable size by the mid-1980s so the classic proportions of Dalton’s black satin bow tie keep it from interfering with his folded-over shawl collar as the oversized bow ties of a decade earlier—memorialized by many awkward prom photos from the ’70s—would have done. Dalton’s bow tie is shaped in the classic thistle, or “butterfly”, shape.
Like his wide-shouldered dinner jacket, Bond’s formal trousers have double pleats in accordance with fashions of the late ’80s, with the de rigueur satin stripe running down the length of each side to the plain-hemmed bottoms.
We can’t tell from any visible on-screen evidence if Bond’s trousers are fitted with side adjusters as on some of Dalton’s predecessors’ formal trousers, but we do see that he wears them with white suspenders (braces) that are fastened to the top of his trousers with silver clips. The more acceptably formal approach would have been for Bond to wear suspenders that button onto the waistband itself, and we know that this the clip-on faux pas is regularly practiced by Dalton’s Bond as we also see the clips on his trousers when he’s running through the Vienna amusement park in a different tuxedo later in the film. If Dalton’s Bond felt so compelled to wear clip-on suspenders, he could have at least mitigated the sartorial solecism by donning a cummerbund or the more Bond-approved formal waistcoat.
Bond’s chosen footwear with both this dinner jacket and the later-seen notch-lapel jacket in Vienna are black patent leather slip-on shoes with a plain toe and a black grosgrain strap across the vamp.
Dalton the Fleming purist may have appreciated that the shoes were a consistent choice for the literary Bond’s eschewal of laced shoes, seeing these grosgrain-strapped shoes as a less fussy and more modern alternative to the classic opera pump, which is traditionally the most acceptable non-laced shoe for white tie and black tie dress codes.
Bond’s wristwatches aren’t as prominently featured in The Living Daylights as they would be in other 007 adventures, leaving experts like Dell Deaton to exhaustively research what Dalton may have been wearing in scenes like this, where his jacket and shirt sleeves tend to cover his wrists for the majority of the screen time. Despite this, Deaton’s comprehensive blog states that there is a brief moment in the hotel room as Bond is preparing to take his rifle to the window when his stainless TAG Heuer Professional Diver can be spied on Dalton’s left wrist.
The prospect of spotting a watch on Bond’s wrist is further complicated when he dons a bulky black fingerless shooting glove on his left hand.
Bond would go on to wear two more dinner jackets in The Living Daylights, an extensively seen notch-lapel dinner jacket when taking Kara to the Vienna amusement park (and worn by Dalton for much of the film’s promotional photography) and a double-breasted dinner jacket with the appropriate peak lapels that is briefly and barely seen during the finale.
The first firearm we see Timothy Dalton’s Bond is indeed a Walther, but it isn’t the compact PPK pistol that 007 had slung in his shoulder holster for the better part of a quarter century. Assigned to snipe an enemy from a hotel window, James Bond needs a high-powered rifle and for this he takes up the Walther WA 2000, a rare and distinctive-looking semi-automatic “bullpup” rifle made from the same German weapons manufacturer responsible for Bond’s trademark PPK.
Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen spent years designing what would become the WA 2000, reportedly developed in response to the infamous 1972 Summer Olympics massacre in Munich. By the late 1970s, many European militaries were adopting bullpup rifles like the Steyr AUG and the French FAMAS so Walther followed suit, designing their new rifle in a bullpup configuration that placed the action and magazine behind the trigger, building the rest of the weapon around the barrel. This popular bullpup design provided the advantageous capabilities and accuracy of a full-length barrel in a more compact package, though the completed WA 2000 was still a solid weapon that weighed more than 15 pounds even when unloaded, nearly double the weight of the successful AUG and FAMAS bullpups.
The closed-bolt WA 2000 fed from six-round box magazines of .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition, chosen for its long-range accuracy, which added nearly a pound to the rifle’s mass, though select models were also chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester) and 7.5x55mm Swiss rounds.
Saunders: You’ll want the soft-nosed ones, I expect.
Bond: No, the steel-tipped. KGB snipers usually wear body armor.
Rather than the iron sights of a standard rifle, the WA 2000 was meant to be used strictly with mounted optical sights like the Schmidt & Bender 2.5–10x telescopic sight, which contributed additional weight to the heavy rifle.
Despite limited adoption by a few police agencies in Germany, the Walther WA 2000 was too prohibitively expensive (and not robust enough to justify it) for widespread adoption by military and law enforcement units with only 176 rifles produced in two generations from 1982 through November 1988. However, like many distinctive-looking weapons, its representation in movies, TV shows, and video games presents the Walther WA 2000 to be considerably more available. According to IMFDB, The Living Daylights was the first screen appearance for the Walther WA 2000, followed swiftly by a supporting role in the 1988 TV adaptation of The Bourne Identity. Its ubiquity in the Hitman video game series assured it a spot in Timothy Olyphant’s hands when he played Agent 47 in the 2007 film adaptation.
One thing that may have tipped Bond off to the fact that Kara wasn’t a professional was her choice of armament. A bitter Bond expects there to be “plenty of time for a sniper to make strawberry jam” out of Koskov, a graphic description that would imply an enemy armed with an automatic weapon like the “Kalashnikov” AK-pattern rifle referred to in Ian Fleming’s short story. However, he spies the cellist taking up a position in the window with a bolt-action Winchester Model 70, a fine rifle for sure but undoubtedly out of place in the high-tech world of agents and assassins… especially when it’s loaded merely with blanks.
Interestingly, Fleming’s short story actually arms Bond with a Winchester rifle, though it’s intended to be a more advanced one that Fleming describes as “mostly a .308-caliber International Experimental Target rifle built by Winchester to help American marksmen at World Championships, and it had the usual gadgets of superaccurate target weapons—a curled aluminum hand at the back of the butt that extended under the armpit and held the stock firmly into the shoulder, and an adjustable pinion below the rifle’s center of gravity to allow the stock to be nailed into its grooved wooden rest… the usual single-shot bolt action replaced by a five-shot magazine.”
M assures Bond that the rifle will be securely shipped to Germany via diplomatic pouch and, when 007 next shoulders the weapon, it’s been fitted with a “Sniperscope” that, along with the wooden and metal parts of the rifle, has been “painted a dull black” for additional evening concealment.
007’s main ride in The Living Daylights is an on-brand Aston Martin V8 that would be prominently featured both as a convertible and a hardtop, but Dalton the new Bond also breaks new automotive ground by featuring the agent behind the driver’s wheel of not one but two different Audis. The first and most prominently seen is a gray 1986 Audi 200 quattro four-door sedan, ostensibly owned by Saunders or used by him as a work car in Bratislava with license plates #W207-182 registered to Vienna. When Bond takes control of the mission, he also takes control of the car, a relatively subdued-looking but still luxurious choice, standing in for the sputtering black Opel Kapitan referred to as Captain Sendler’s escape car in Ian Fleming’s short story.
Four different generations of Audi 100 and 200 models evolved from the introduction of this full-size sedan line in 1968 through the line’s final year of manufacture in 1994. All were built on the Volkswagen Group’s C platform, with the C1, C2, C3, and C4 platform designations correlating with each of the first, second, third, and fourth generations, respectively. Each generation, in turn, was also designated with a type number.
The first generation (F104), consisting only of Audi 100 models, was designed by Ludwig Kraus and powered by a limited lineup of four-cylinder engines. For the 1976 model year, the lineup was refreshed for the C2 generation (Type 43) that included five-cylinder engines and also saw the introduction of the top-of-the-line Audi 200 during the 1979 Frankfurt Auto Show.
Bond’s screen-driven Audis in The Living Daylights were produced during the C3 generation (Type 44), launched in September 1982 with a more aerodynamic design restyled for the ’80s. Beginning with the 1983 model year, the C3 generation also heralded the introduction of the “quattro” permanent four-wheel-drive drivetrain for Audi 100 and 200 models, having been developed by Audi earlier in the decade. The Audi 200 remained as an upmarket model, particularly when selected with the “Exclusiv” trim as driven by Bond and Saunders with its flared wheel arches and 16-inch BBS RS split-rim alloy wheels. According to Bond Lifestyle, the Audi 200 “Exclusiv” was the most expensive Audi ever made until the introduction of the Audi V8 in 1988. The 1986 Audi 200 quattro “Exclusiv” featured in The Living Daylights is now reportedly owned by the Audi Museaum in Igolstadt.
1986 Audi 200 quattro
Body Style: 4-door full-size luxury sedan
Layout: front-engine, quattro four-wheel-drive (4WD)
Engine: 2144 cc (2.1 L) Volkswagen line-5 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection
Power: 180 hp (134 kW; 182 PS) @ 5700 RPM
Torque: 186 lb·ft (252 N·m) @ 3600 RPM
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 105.8 inches (2687 mm)
Length: 189.3 inches (4807 mm)
Width: 71.4 inches (1814 mm)
Height: 56 inches (1422 mm)
The second Audi that Bond drives in The Living Daylights is another 200 Quattro, albeit an Avant estate wagon that is seen only in a single vignette as 007 surveils General Pushkin from the driver’s seat while parked in Tangier.
The Audi 200 was discontinued with the end of the C3 generation, and the C4 generation (Type 4A) introduced in the fall of 1990 included only the Audi 100, essentially a facelifted C3 that included a new V6 engine option. It was during the Type 4A period that Audi transitioned out of its existing model-naming system and developed the S4, A6, S6, etc. models that are familiar to modern Audi drivers.
How to Get the Look
In this day and age, very few of us are engaged in missions or attending fancy dress balls, but there will always be an argument to be made for owning a tailored tuxedo, and Timothy Dalton’s shawl-collar dinner jacket at the outset of The Living Daylights follows in fine 007 tradition.
- Black wool single-button dinner jacket with tactically convertible satin-faced shawl collar, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, satin-covered 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- White formal shirt with spread collar, narrowly pleated front with placket, and double/French cuffs
- Gold ornate cuff links
- Black satin silk thistle-shaped bow tie
- White suspenders/braces with silver clips
- Black wool double reverse-pleated formal trousers with satin silk side striping and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black patent leather plain-toe slip-on shoes with grosgrain straps
- Black dress socks
- TAG Heuer Professional Diver stainless steel wristwatch with black bezel and dial on steel bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Stuff my orders! I only kill professionals. That girl didn’t know one end of her rifle from the other. Go ahead, tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it. Whoever she was, it must have scared the living daylights out of her.