MCM: Timothy Dalton


Here is your Snark Week sloppy seconds. Timothy Dalton is not an unattractive man. He’s not a bad actor. And yet… And yet… And yet he has chosen to appear in a whole bunch of crappy historical costume movies and TV shows. The kind of things you hide on your resume that lurk in the deep, dark places on YouTube — but they’re the stuff we here at Frock Flicks dig up and snark. He had a nice run as James Bond from 1987 to 1989, but, dayum, he sure took some stinky acting jobs before, during, and after 007.

We’re sorry, Tim, we can’t help but point these things out. We’re sure you’re a very nice fellow, you’re probably kind and generous and super studly and a fine Shakespearean-trained talent and all that, but were you so desperate for cash? Let’s hope these weaksauce gigs helped you support an ailing mother back in Wales or something.



Philip II in The Lion in Winter (1968)

Timothy Dalton in The Lion in Winter (1968)

OK, he starts off pretty good. This is a fantastic movie, one of our faves, full of sarcastic wit delivered by a troupe of stellar actors. It’s just that Dalton is cast as the sleazy gay-for-pay French king.


Prince Rupert in Cromwell (1970)

Timothy Dalton in Cromwell (1970)

I admittedly don’t remember him at all in this sprawling epic about the English Civil War. His character was some kind of general in some of the endless battle scenes.


Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1970)

Timothy Dalton in Wuthering Heights (1970)

Here is where the horror show starts. First, it’s one of the worst Wuthering Heights adaptions around, with an abbreviated script and crap costumes. Then Dalton is totally wooden as Heathcliff. UGH NO.


Henry, Lord Darnley, in Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)

Timothy Dalton in Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)

Darnley is rarely portrayed with any nuance, but at least Timothy Dalton gives it a shot here. He’s not a simpering cliche, more of a simple-minded drunk.  I guess it could be worse?


Oliver Seccombe in Centennial (1978)

Timothy Dalton in Centennial (1978)

Never saw it, but this was one of those dorky-looking historical TV miniseries (this one about Colorado statehood, oh boy), so I don’t expect much.


Col. Archibald Christie in Agatha (1979)

Timothy Dalton in Agatha (1979)

I really tried to watch this movie, but ugh, boring (wait for it to show up in an Oh the Bad Movies You’ll Watch round-up!). Timothy Dalton plays Agatha Christie’s pompous, cheating husband, and the flick recounts her mysterious disappearance in 1926.


Marquis de Guaita in The Flame Is Love (1979)

Timothy Dalton in The Flame Is Love (1979)

A TV adaption of a Barbara Cartland novel, Dalton plays an English duke about to marry an American heiress around 1900 — can you doubt the shmaltzy cheesiness?


Boy Capel in Chanel Solitaire (1981)

Timothy Dalton in Chanel Solitaire (1981)

Reading the character’s name, I thought “gigolo,” but apparently “Boy” Capel was a real person (full name: Arthur Edward Capel) and one of Coco Chanel’s lovers. Still, this sounds hella weak.


Rochester in Jane Eyre (1983)

Timothy Dalton in Jane Eyre (1983)

Love!!! This could redeem all the rest of the poor casting choices because Timothy Dalton is such a fantastic Rochester in this absolutely book-perfect and historically perfect TV miniseries of the novel. Tim, you should’ve stuck with the BBC and taken roles in all their costume dramas for the next few decades! Steady work that you were clearly destined for! Did Hollywood pay more? Did you crave L.A. sunshine? What happened? Such a missed opportunity. sigh


Col. Francis Burke in The Master of Ballantrae (1984)

Timothy Dalton in The Master of Ballantrae (1984)

On the one hand, this stars Michael York, John Gielgud, and other fine actors. On the other hand, I can only find really shitty screencaps of Dalton in this TV adaption of the Robert Louis Stevenson story. So I’m suspicious that it sucks hard.


Richard Milnes in Florence Nightingale (1985)

Timothy Dalton in Florence Nightingale (1985)

Juicing up the romance angle of the Lady with the Lamp, Timothy Dalton plays Nightingale’s rejected suitor in this generally well-received TV biopic.


Doctor Thomas Rock in The Doctor and the Devils (1985)

Timothy Dalton in The Doctor and the Devils (1985)

A 19th-century grave robbing story based on the Burke and Hare murders, this looks like something I should track down, actually!


Le Roi Vittorio Amadeo in The King’s Whore (1990)

Timothy Dalton in The King's Whore (1990)

He looks cute, doesn’t he? Deceptive. This is the movie that reminded me we needed a Timothy Dalton Man Candy Monday. Click the title to read Sarah’s play-by-play.


Neville Sinclair in The Rocketeer (1991)

Timothy Dalton in The Rocketeer (1991)

In this 1930s sci-fi flick, Dalton does a fine job as a mockingly awful bad guy, a Nazi secret agent who gets himself blown up by the rocket itself.


Rhett Butler in Scarlett (1994)

Timothy Dalton in Scarlett (1994)

He tries to impersonate Clark Gable, but in this TV miniseries, it’s Sean Bean I’m rooting for Scarlett to hook up with, sorry!


Julius Caesar in Cleopatra (1999)

Timothy Dalton in Cleopatra (1999)

Dalton got pretty good reviews in this ABC/Hallmark TV miniseries of the same old story. He gets a pass here.


Charles Darrow in Passion’s Way (1999)

Timothy Dalton in Passion's Way (1999)

But just when you think he’s upped his game, nope. IMDB says this was actually filmed in 1996 and not broadcast until 1999, which just adds to how stinky it must be. A romantic triangle set in 1900s France, that someone on the Internet felt necessary to create a giant photo montage for.


Allan Pinkerton in American Outlaws (2001)

Timothy Dalton in American Outlaws (2001)

Yee-haw, this jokey wild west Colin Farrell vehicle apparently needed some grown-ups (Kathy Bates is also featured) to get the job done.


Sir Malcolm Murray in Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

Timothy Dalton in Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

A positive note to end on — Timothy Dalton’s Sir Malcolm is a seasoned explorer, a father figure, and vampire hunter. His aspect is troubled, even tortured, but he’s wily and a badass as needed. After the ups and downs of three seasons deep in this gothic Victorian horror TV show, he’s one of the few left standing.


What’s your favorite — or least favorite! — Timothy Dalton historical costume movie or TV role?

33 Responses

  1. thedementedfairy

    Love it- I’ve never really ‘got’ Dalton- I think it’s that weird cleft chin thingy. It looks as though you should keep dip in it, and have him to hand for tortilla dunking. Or something. Chin fondue? Hmmm.
    I quite liked ‘Scarlett’ but then, I wasn’t expecting much from it, which helps!

  2. Susan Pola

    Penny Dreadful and Jane Eyre are my favourites of those you mentioned. But he was the Prince in Flash Gordon with music by Queen.

  3. Susan Pola

    Where is my comment?

    To recap: Favourites Jane Eyre & Penny Dreadful.

    He was also Prince in Flash Gordon Music by Queen.

  4. Becca

    I love that Dalton’s voice goes so perfectly with his look. It throws me off when actors have either “the face” or “the voice” but they don’t really go together, you know? And it’s not at all historical but my favorite part he plays is in “Hot Fuzz”! He’s great as the smarmy, slightly creepy (who turns out to be really terrible!) grocery store owner!

    • mmcquown

      Maybe Dalton needs a better agent. Being an actor is a lot like being a shark: you gotta swim or die. For some reason, I don’t think he got the Q rating he should have (it’s a name recognition scale of some sort). And, one takes what’s offered. Sometimes the money is better than the job.

      • Trystan L. Bass

        Yup, it’s funny Dalton & Pierce Bronson both got typecast as the “British romantic guy” in American TV & also got short James Bond stints.

    • themodernmantuamaker

      His Mr Skinnerrrrrr in Hot Fuzz is my favourite of his too! I think he’s got way better comedy chops than is generally believed!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      HAH, I have no memory of that — but then, I saw Scarlett once when it came out on TV & have only ogled Sean Bean’s pix in it since then!

    • ladylavinia1932

      Didn’t Sean Bean’s character RAPE Scarlett and put out his cigarettes on whores?!

      Yes, he did. Not only did he torture whores, but also young village girls he had seduced.

  5. Adina

    Personally, I’m not a fan of his James Bond, but he did an excellent job in Penny Dreadful. I’d love to see another production that had him and Eva Green.

    • M.E. Lawrence

      These impossibly/ludicrously handsome guys (Richard Gere and Tom Selleck come to mind) sometimes age rather well; they’ve usually acquired some acting skills by then and become less pretty, more interesting.

  6. Karen K.

    Not a fan of his James Bond but he sure is pretty. It was so funny to see him in Hot Fuzz.

  7. ladylavinia1932

    “CENTENNIAL” was not some dorky TV miniseries from the late 1970s. I believe it’s one of the finest miniseries I have ever seen. And one of the best performances in the production came from Dalton.

    I’ve seen “SCARLETT” more than once. Dalton was not trying to impersonate Clark Gable. He was simply portraying Rhett Butler . . . his way. Unfortunately, I was not that impressed by his Southern accent – something that Gable did not use.

    I love Dalton’s James Bond and I thought his performance set the stage for how many spies on television and in the movies were portrayed from 1987 onwards.

    In my view, Dalton was the best Edward Rochester I have ever seen. However, I didn’t care for his Heathcliff. Then again, I never cared for the Heathcliff character anyway.

    I loved Dalton’s Neville Sinclair. Then again, I love “THE ROCKETEER”.

    Dalton, along with Michael York and Richard Thomas all gave first-rate performances in “THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE”. The TV movie was first-rate as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the story, so I blame Robert Louis Stevenson.

    I also enjoyed “AGATHA” very much, along with Dalton’s performance in the film.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I find that whole genre of ’70s American historical miniseries incredibly dorky — my grandfather was a huge fan of the books they’re based on, so the shows were a staple in my house. BLEH.

      Any actor trying to portray an iconic character is going to be compared to the original. Totes fair.

      I couldn’t stay awake thru Agatha. Tried to watch it twice in the past 2 months. Zip, zero, nada, zilch, nothing grabbed me, the performances were flat, the costumes were dull, the story meandered. I’m a busy girl, I have hundreds of shows to review, buh-bye!

    • Mari

      I totally agree with you about Centennial. It’s a great story about the American West of the 19th and 20th centuries.

      Dalton acted the part of Rochester well, but he’s too handsome! Too tall as well, according to Bronte’s physical description of Rochester.

  8. Robin A.

    I’ve seen an awful lot of these :::blushes::: I had a huge crush on TD when he was in Jane Eyre and tracked down any & all obscure movies I could find — and there were a lot of them. I’ve seen “The Doctor and the Devils.” It was produced by Mel Brooks and I recall that it was pretty bad. Didn’t keep me from watching it more than once. TD really looks great in Victorian costume.

      • Roxana

        However he fits the book description of Rochester surprisingly well, right down to the cleft chin.

  9. indiaedghillI

    I adore Dalton, but I still haven’t recovered from watching Jane say, “Why yes, Mr. Rochester, I find you really plain and just totally un-adorbs!” when she’s looking at Timothy Dalton! Sorry, but plain and ugly he ain’t. In fact, I think Jane’s lips were quivering with supressed laughter during that entire scene.

  10. Kathleen Norvell

    Best Rochester ever. And I’ve seen a helluva lot of them. Honestly, can’t remember him in anything else.

  11. ladylavinia1932

    Dalton acted the part of Rochester well, but he’s too handsome! Too tall as well, according to Bronte’s physical description of Rochester.

    Just about nearly every actor I have seen portray Rochester was good-looking . . . even Orson Welles, back in the 1940s. George C. Scott seemed to be the exception.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      I don’t think that not having seen 4 or 5 of the 19 or so movies listed here counts as “most of the films mentioned.”

  12. peony67

    At my when I was in my very early twenties, I was working at late night (I still have a tendency to do that), and the TV was on, and they played Mistral’s Daughter (long forgotten mini-series with Stephanie Powers) I looked up from my work and caught a glimpse of Timothy Dalton, and I fell in love with him, in that moment… every since whatever he is in, that is my favorite version of said thing be it Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre or James Bond… Yeah, I even enjoyed The King’s whore… didn’t understand much of it,but I could stare at him for long period of times… LOL. Go figure. My secret is out. (And I just watched his Wuthering Heights again, last night… I admit, the movi might not be the best adaptation, but for what they were trying to do, he was perfect quietly brooding, and all that tension boiling beneath the surface…Go ahead. Mock me. Love is blind (not blind enough to wonder about those costumes though.)

  13. Carmen Schmitt

    I just “Found” the 1970 version of Wuthering Heights. I think your comments here got it covered; Horrific acting, Costumes from Hell (the back closet of badly designed unhistorical clothing) Hair directly from the 70s, nothing historical. Again as in many of these adaptation too much hair floating in the face. Truly sorry to those Timothy Dalton fans, but he cant act, he looks creepy, however, he does look better with age. I am afraid to now view/read anything from Emily Bronte. Scarred for life.