I'm glad to see some of you have discussed the AIDS issue, because that was in fact in the forefront of the producers' minds when they decided to tone down Bond's sexual conquests. Critics and naysayers had been beating the war-drums against the Bond franchise as far back as Thunderball in 1965, and after every film, there would be articles decrying this or that aspect of the series. While the producers tended to shrug most of it off, they did pay attention to societal trends and tried to match them as well as possible in order to meet the audiences expectations. The AIDS crisis made bed-hopping look not only foolish, but downright dangerous and irresponsible.
Looking at the cast in The Living Daylights, there are a few worthy of mention. Longtime series regular Walter Gotell makes his final appearance as Soviet General Gogol, the USSR's counterpart to M. His character is shown to be retired into a diplomat's position, and his former job has now fallen to General Pushkin, played by familiar character actor John Rhys-Davies. This would be a one-time showing, though, as Bond's next film would leave out the Cold War settings, and when the series was re-started in 1995 with Pierce Brosnan, the Russian contact would be played by Robbie Coltrane.
John Terry has the role of Felix Leiter. Felix is Bond's longtime American contact in the CIA. He's memorable in the series as having been recast so many times. He first appeared onscreen in 1962's Dr. No, the first Bond film, played by Jack Lord. After that he was played by Cec Linder (Goldfinger), Rik Van Nutter (Thunderball), Norman Burton (Diamonds are Forever), and Bernie Casey (Never Say Never Again). The first actor to play Leiter twice was David Hedison, who played the role in 1973's Live and Let Die and then again 16 years later in 1989's Licence to Kill. The character remained off-screen throughout the Brosnan years (more on that next), but would return in the Daniel Craig era, played by actor Jeffrey Wright in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
Joe Don Baker, who appears in The Living Daylights as the villainous Brad Whitaker, would later join a rarefied club: performers who have played more than one major character in the James Bond series. The first notable example was actor Charles Gray, who had a small but memorable role in You Only Live Twice, and then landed the role of Bond arch-nemesis Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever. TopBilled discussed Maud Adams, who appeared in both The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy. And now Baker, who, after playing this role, would return during the Brosnan years as Bond's new CIA contact, Jack Wade, in both GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Finally, regarding the movie's theme song: I stand among the minority in preferring this song, from Norwegian new wave pop group A-ha, to the previous Duran Duran theme (although I like them both). Once again, the song was co-written by the film's composer, John Barry. This co-writing set-up actually caused the producers' original theme performers to refuse: the English pop group Pet Shop Boys, who were only interested if they could compose the entire film score. This Bond film also features 2 songs from The Pretenders, one incidentally during the film, the other during the end credits. The producers considered The Pretenders for the theme performers, as well, but opted for A-ha and their new wave sound in an attempt to match the success of the previous Duran Duran hit. While the song reached number one in the band's native Norway, it only reached #5 in the UK, and a dismal #113 on the US charts.