The Starburst International Film Festival held a true licence to thrill on Sunday, 28th August, when five-times 007 director John Glen was the special guest for a rare big-screen outing for a late 1980s Bond adventure. The veteran director attended the Festival for a post-screening ‘Q & As’ session after Timothy Dalton’s second Bond movie, Licence to Kill (1989), was shown to appreciative film fans.
The Starburst Festival, held in Manchester, in the UK, has seen large crowds in attendance over the Bank Holiday weekend and, unsurprisingly, Dalton’s movie brought out its own loyal fan-base, with a number of keen aficionados of the Bond franchise – and Dalton’s interpretation of Bond in particular – making up the audience.
Dalton’s second 007 adventure, which was radical and quite controversial in its time, retains a special place in John Glen’s heart and he clearly remains very proud of the movie. The JBIFC takes the opportunity to celebrate the film and sets out (00)7 brief items of information about Glen’s views of the production, as set out in various interviews he has given over the last 27 years.
007 and Counting…
001: After the popular box-office and critical success of The Living Daylights (1987), John Glen has recalled that he felt confident that his own period as director was surely at an end. Nobody had directed more than four Bond films, so he was surprised (but also elated) to be invited back by Cubby Broccoli to direct the next 007 adventure.
002: Glen was informed by Broccoli that the new movie would have a non-Fleming title, Licence Revoked, and they were planning a much ‘harder-edged’ 007 film, more closely in line with Ian Fleming’s Bond than before and also very much in line with with Dalton’s own vision of the character. As Glen recalled at one point: ‘We were about to go further than we had ever gone before…’.
003: The gritty screenplay, put together by Bond screen-writing veteran Richard Maibaum and co-written by Michael G. Wilson, explored the frightening world of drug barons and the almost industrial-scale levels of illegal trading in drugs and intimidation that had gradually evolved. The right casting for the villain was thus especially important. Glen has commented on a number of occasions that he thought Robert Davi was ‘perfect’ for the role of the callous drugs baron Franz Sanchez.
004: As Glen recalled in his memoirs in 2001, ‘I was looking for a villain who could be the physical equal of Tim’s Bond, in much the same way Robert Shaw had been the equal of Sean Connery in From Russia With Love. The balance between hero and villain fascinates me and Robert Davi played the villainous side of the equation perfectly’.
005: Interestingly, Glen once revealed that, when he and the casting dept were looking for an actress to play the main Bond woman Pam Bouvier, one of the first actresses he talked to was Sharon Stone. He had spotted Stone the year before when she was in the action movie Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold and decided she was ‘very good’. In the event, they went for Cary Lowell, who impressed everyone and became one of Glen’s favourite actresses.
006: Glen has also remembered that Licence Revoked (as it was still called during filming) saw Tim Dalton throw himself into every aspect of the filming ‘with relish’, and the actor was keen to do as many of his own stunts as possible for extra authenticity (an approach he had also pursued on The Living Daylights). It could get dangerous, though. One day, when the crew were filming a fight scene at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City, a scene which involved use of a real knife, Dalton received a ‘very nasty cut’ on his hand, but – ever the professional – he came back to finish the scene very soon after medical treatment.
007: John Glen has also noted in a number of interviews, when looking back on the movie, his sheer frustration over how the studio ‘marketing men’ forced him to agree to changing the title of the film, from Licence Revoked to Licence to Kill. He said he found it hard to believe that anyone would be baffled by the word ‘revoked’, and he was also worried that the changed title was too close to A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s Bond movie released just four years earlier.
Did You Know?
According to Glen, in the immediate years post-1989 Timothy Dalton was ‘certainly under the impression’ that he was going to stay on as Bond and star in a third James Bond movie. One of the most popular and frequently visited news articles the JBIFC has put up in recent years concerns the little-known screen treatment that was produced for that proposed film, a movie that was, of course, never made.
As we revealed back in December, 2012, a detailed screen treatment was put together for the proposed third entry in the Dalton James Bond tenure (with a working title of ‘Bond 17’). A French website, ‘Commander James Bond France’, recently made use of our original article, and it is one of those aspects of Bond history that people still find intriguing.
The screen treatment that nearly became the basis for a third Dalton movie in 1990-91 is a fascinating document to explore. Not many fans realise how advanced the plans were for ‘Bond 17’ in 1989-90. An outline treatment by Michael G. Wilson and Alfonse Ruggiero was completed in May, 1990, and – although it was not a full script – it contained a detailed outline story, with descriptions of locations, the main characters, and major plot concepts. Indeed, as envisaged in 1990, Dalton’s third would-be Bond movie would have entailed the series continuing to move in the notably rugged and realistic direction taken in Licence to Kill, but also brimming with ambitious hi-tech concepts.
Alas, it was never to be. Interestingly, in a rare interview Timothy Dalton gave to the popular British movie magazine Empire in June, 2012, the former Bond star confirmed to the interviewer: ‘There was a third script; I remember feeling quite enthusiastic. I’d have loved to have made a real scorcher of a film, one that harnessed the best of Living Daylights and Licence to Kill…’.