Friday, April 3, 2015

Timothy Dalton Through the Ages

This post about Penny Dreadful over at SBTB pointed out that Timothy Dalton is 70 years old. I guess that shouldn't have surprised me, since I remember his fantastic performance in The Lion in Winter (one of my all-time favorite movies). But somehow, I had failed to do the math.

I have long admired his work, in a wide variety of films (particularly historical and fantasy costume epics). In honor of his remarkable career, here are some of my favorites.

The Lion in Winter (1968) - A very young Timothy Dalton portrayed a very young King of France, political rival to England's King Henry II (memorably played by Peter O'Toole).

Seeing Philip in all his youthful power and sartorial splendor, it was easy to understand the homoerotic tension between him and Anthony Hopkins' Richard the Lionhearted.

Wuthering Heights (1970) - Dalton played Heathcliff. This black-and-white picture conveys the mood perfectly. The wardrobe is swoon-worthy. Those tight trousers are rather shocking. Hessian boots are always sexy, and the flapping cloak makes him look like a vampire.

Flash Gordon (1980) - This film is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I absolutely loved Dalton as Prince Barin of Arboria. He acted rings around Sam Jones and Ornella Muti (but not Brian Blessed, who is also wonderful in this movie). I never understood how Princess Aura could have (even briefly) preferred that blond jock Gordon. Flash may know how to throw a football, but Barin knows his way around a bullwhip.

The Living Daylights (1987) - I know that I am in the minority, but Timothy Dalton is my second favorite James Bond (after Daniel Craig). I much preferred him to Pierce Brosnan. Unfortunately, his second Bond film, License to Kill, suffered from bad writing and lackluster boxoffice receipts. His first outing as Bond is far better, in my opinion. Dalton as Bond was convincingly brutal, but he also wore a tuxedo very well.

The Rocketeer (1991) - This was a fun movie that was ahead of its time in many ways. With the current fashion for comic book films and 1940s nostalgia (I'm looking at you, Captain America), I think I need to re-watch this and see how it holds up.

Dalton really reminds me of Errol Flynn in this scene. I'm a sucker for a man wearing a loose, translucent shirt and brandishing a sword.

Penny Dreadful (2014-present) - After seeing Dalton appear in supporting roles in Hot Fuzz (2007) and The Tourist (2010), I was very pleased to see him return to a starring role in Showtime's sexy gothic horror series. He plays a wealthy Victorian gentleman who was also an explorer/adventurer (rather like Sir Richard Francis Burton).

Although the show has disappointed me in some ways, it is visually stunning, and the costumes are fabulous.

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