35 years ago, 007 – Marked For Death, the 15th James Bond film and the first starring the Welsh actor, was released. Timothy Dalton. the original title, “The Living Daylights”was taken from a short story written by Ian Fleming and published for the first time in The London Sunday Times in 1962. The film set a slight shift in direction for the series, exploring the character of 007 and the dramatic potential in the Bond stories.
As soon as the producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli decided to recast the role of James Bond, Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum began working on plot ideas. As a starting point for the script, they chose to use the short story The Living Daylightsoriginally translated in Brazil as Meeting in Berlin.
In the film, Bond must defend a high-ranking Soviet official who reveals to MI6 that the KGB chief is systematically killing British and American agents. When the defector is kidnapped, Bond follows him through Europe, Morocco and Afghanistan and uncovers a massive arms smuggling scheme that puts the fate of the world at stake.
As inspiration for the character General Koskov, the writers looked at the true story of a KGB officer who had defected to the CIA in 1985, and then returned to the Soviet Union. Changes in the leadership of the Soviet Union helped define the story, and the war in Afghanistan provided a unique backdrop for the plot.
Timothy Dalton had already been considered for the role of James Bond in 1971 after the release of 007 – Diamonds Are Forever. At the time, he was discarded by the producers for being too young. As the roadmap 007 – Marked For Death taking shape, auditions for the role of Bond also continued at Pinewood Studios, and among the actors being considered for the role at the time were Sam Neil, Mel Gibson, Mark Greenstreet, Christopher Lambert and Andrew Clarke. With some changes to the shooting schedule, Timothy Dalton was chosen to take on the role.
The role of Czechoslovak cellist Kara Milovy was played by the English actress and former model. Maryam d’Abowho had previously auditioned for another role in the series in 007 – In the Crosshairs of the Assassins.
Recordings with the 2nd Unit began on September 17, 1986 in Gibraltar, and when Dalton later joining the production, he impressed everyone on the crew by performing many of his own stunts atop a moving Land Rover in the famous opening sequence.
Production moved to Vienna, where a major press conference introduced the new James Bond to the world. The director John Glen and his crew filmed at several famous spots in the city before heading to Tangier, Morocco, location for several exterior scenes including the rooftop chase when Bond evades the Moroccan police. Filming continued at Ouarzazate, a location that later in the film was used as a Soviet air base in Afghanistan. In December, when the team returned to Pinewood Studios in England, they received an illustrious visit from Prince Charles and gives Princess Diana.
The film marked the return of the partnership with the British automaker Aston Martin. The chase with the V8 Vantage Volante model on a frozen lake was filmed in Weissensee, Austria. John Glen suggested that at the end of the sequence, Bond and Kara Milovy should ditch the car and use Kara’s Cello case as a sled to escape across the border. The case was made of fiberglass and had skis on the bottom and controls on the side handles.
007 – Marked For Death was the 11th and final Bond film to feature the composer John Barry on the soundtrack, notable for the introduction of electronic tracks superimposed on the orchestra, an innovation at the time. To honor his legacy, the composer had a cameo as a conductor in the final scene. The theme song “The Living Daylights” was in charge of the Norwegian band a-haand was written in partnership with Paul Waaktaar-Savoyguitarist of the band.
Filming ended on February 13, 1987. A week later, the producer Alberty R. “Cubby” Broccoli received the Honorary Order of the British Empire.
007 – Marked For Death brought back realism and espionage to the franchise, showing a darker side of James Bond. The film was a worldwide success in the summer of 1987, budgeted at $40 million, grossing the equivalent of $191.2 million at the box office.