There isn’t really a question: Sean Connery is an icon. In 58 years of on-screen acting Connery has played a suave sophisticated secret agent, an investigate monk, a beat cop in Chicago and Indiana Jones’ father. Not a bad record. On Sunday, October 31, 2020, Connery passed away peacefully in his sleep. Let’s take a moment to honor the man who first said, “Bond, James Bond” on the silver screen with ten of his most memorable films.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)
Connery was loaned out to Walt Disney for this picture, as he had a contract with 20th Century Fox. This fantastical tale about an old man who attempts to outwit King Brian (the King of the Leprechauns) is wonderful albeit slightly scary film that has strong performances by the entire cast. It was, however, Connery’s performance that caught the eye of Cubby Broccoli who was looking for an actor to play James Bond. He asked his wife Dana to see the film and she loved Connery. He was then brought in for a screen test and the rest is history.
“Goldfinger” is the Bond film that set the standard for all 007 films to follow. There are larger than life villains and henchmen, beautiful strong women, a fully gadget loaded Aston Martin DB5 and of course there is Sean Connery. Connery gives what many consider to be his best performance in the role of 007. You can see by the real twinkle in his eye that he is relishing the role. “Do you expect me to talk? No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”
The Offence (1973)
Connery would make multiple films with Sidney Lumet, but this might be one of the more difficult ones to watch. This is not 007. Connery plays a British detective who interrogates a suspected child molester and in the process, discovers a terrible side of himself. “The Offence” is the movie Connery was promised when he agreed to make “Diamonds Are Forever”. It was a two- picture deal, but this is only one he made. In it he gives one of his most powerful performances.
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
Outside of Newman and Redford in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, this might be the best buddy film of all time. Good friends Sean Connery and Michael Caine as Daniel and Peachy work splendidly together here as they travel to Kafiristan where they become kings and later due to an incident concerning misplaced arrow, Daniel (Connery) becomes their nation’s God. As their onscreen friendship begins to dwindle, their performances shine. This is an epic film directed by the great John Huston and also starring Christopher Plummer.
Robin and Marian (1976)
Connery might be able to throw a punch better than most actors, but he was also capable of creating real chemistry and love with his female co-stars. This is no more evident than in “Robin and Marian”. A new look at the Robin Hood tale, this film finds Robin and John returning from the Crusades to Nottingham to find much has changed, including Marian becoming a nun. Robin, now an older man, still has the charm and he and Marian begin to fall for one another before Robin must fight the Sheriff of Nottingham once more. Robert Shaw, Connery’s nemesis as Red Grant in “From Russian with Love” once more plays an excellent villain once again. The scenes with Connery and Audrey Hepburn are magical and the last scene shows love in its truest form.
“High Noon” in outer space is what many have referred to “Outland” as. While not as good as “High Noon”, this tale of a federal Marshall who must uncover a drug smuggling operation at a mining colony is still pretty epic. It’s a tense thriller with plenty of action and Peter Boyle. What more could you ask for?
The Untouchables (1987)
Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia, Robert DeNiro, Sean Connery and Brian De Palma – an extraordinary group shine in “The Untouchables”. Connery once again plays the father figure to Costner’s Eliot Ness. It’s one of Connery’s best performances and won him his first and only Academy Award. It also has one of the best scores of all time. The scenes where Connery places a gun in a dead man’s mouth and when he tells Ness how to get Capone are timeless. “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife; you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital; you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone”
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Steven Spielberg has said there was only one person that could play Indiana Jones’ father and that was Connery. This third entry in the Indiana Jones saga has Jones searching for his father and the holy grail. Connery and Ford work perfectly together playing off of each other. There could not have been better casting. “Junior? It is you, Junior.” “Don’t call me that, please!”
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Connery is so good as Marko Ramius that no one seems to care that the Russian submarine captain has a Scottish accent. Connery would get away with this in virtually every film he’s in. This suspenseful adaptation of John Clancy’s novel and directed by “Die Hard” filmmaker John McTiernan brings Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery face to face in an attempt to stop World War III. This would be the start of many adaptations of Clancy’s novel, but many consider this first one to be the best.
The Rock (1996)
This is the film that reminded everyone that Sean Connery was still a badass. Directed by Michael Bay, the film centers on some rogue military men who take hostages on Alcatraz Island and plan to fire nerve gas on the city of San Francisco. The action is intense and Connery seems to be having a glorious time. His age didn’t matter because he was still 007 and in moviegoers eyes still timeless. The film would go on to make $335 million worldwide.