Sir Sean Connery has passed away in his sleep at the age of 90. And while the iconic actor hasn’t appeared on the big screen in nearly two decades, he has more than just changed the way we order a martini (that’s shaken, not stirred). Connery made his last appearance on the big screen in 2003 as Allan Quartermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Connery might be best known for the inaugural (and arguably the best) portrayal of British Secret Service agent James Bond. His first big breakthrough came in 1962 when the young actor would embark on a career playing the debonair spy that would become the most famous character franchise in movie history. The first Bond film, Dr. No, would set the stage for Connery to play the role for over twenty years with his last reprisal in 1983 with Never Say Never Again.
Just for your reference, here are his 7 Bond films in chronological order: Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds are Forever (1971), and Never Say Never Again (1983).
With a successful and varied career in front of the camera, Connery would win an Academy Award for best supporting actor in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987), playing a cop who assists Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) take down Al Capone (Robert De Niro).
To quote his character in The Man Who Would Be King, “You call it luck. I call it destiny.” Perhaps it was a little of both as Connery has definitely left an indelible mark on cinematic history.
Though his career spanned more than half a century, I don’t think we’ll have to enlist the help of Professor Henry Jones (Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade) to assist us with “digging” up his most memorable films. It’s no “secret” that we’ve “spied” our favorites.
Extra points if you can name any three Bond girls from his seven films. We’ll make it easier for you and just let you name any 3 from the 58-year (and counting) franchise.
In his second appearance as the British spy and on the heels of killing Dr. No, James Bond must travel to Istanbul and rush to help a Russian consulate clerk defect while retrieving the Lektor (encryption machine that MI6 and the CIA have long sought). Tatiana Romanova (Russian cipher clerk) unwittingly participates, which is actually an ploy to lure 007 into a trap so that SPECTRE can exact its revenge for his killing of Dr. No.
On a dare, a teenager, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), enters the apartment of reclusive Pulitzer Prize winning author, William Forrester (Connery). Surprised by Forrester, Wallace drops his backpack and runs away. Forrester later drops the pack out of his window back down to the ground, but only after editing the personal writings of the teen. The two ultimately become friends and both are forced to navigate uncharted waters.
Based on the Tom Clancy novel by the same name, Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) is a CIA analyst that must interpret the intentions of a rogue Soviet submarine captain, Marko Ramius (Connery), who wishes to defect to the United States. Ramius has taken the Soviet’s latest, yet fictional, Typhoon class submarine with its stealth caterpillar drive and must make it to the United States before he is destroyed by his own country or seen as an aggressor and sunk by the country in which he seeks asylum.
An F.B.I. biochemist, Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) pairs up with John Mason (Connery), the only person to have ever escaped Alcatraz where he was held as a prisoner. This time, along with a SEAL team, he and Goodspeed must sneak into the prison without being detected to foil a team of rogue Marines that have taken over the island after stealing an arsenal of VX gas. The duo and the SEAL team must infiltrate the tourist attraction fortress and neutralize the threat before any missiles containing the deadly gas are fired at San Francisco.
The first of what would become a staple and iconic character and role for Connery, this was his first portrayal of the British spy, James Bond. In his debut, Bond travels to Jamaica to investigate the strange disappearance (murder) of a fellow MI6 agent. Dr. No, the villain, works with the international criminal organization SPECTRE, which is looking to disrupt an American space launch from Florida with a high powered radio beam. This is also the first introduction of a Bond girl, Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress).
Based on the story by Rudyard Kipling, The Man Who Would Be King also features Kipling as a character (portrayed by Christopher Plummer). Two ex-soldiers, Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine), stationed in India decide they want to become rulers of the entire country. They later turn their sights on the remote region of Kafiristan (located in modern-day Afghanistan). Their actions unfold a remarkable story, and the tale begins and ends with Kipling.
This movie made it apparent to all watching that Professor Henry Jones (Connery) should have made appearances in the two earlier films as he and Harrison Ford had excellent onscreen chemistry. It’s rare that the third film in a series can nearly eclipse the original. Indiana joins forces with his father (Connery) after he rescues him from the Germans looking for the Holy Grail and the pair must race to protect the holiest relic in Christianity. We also learn from this film where Indiana gains his affinity for wearing his characteristic fedora and leather jacket.
I know that you’re already digging around looking for your personal copy of this film or seeking out a streamed copy. I know I did as I was writing this article.
Bond returns and this time he is headed to the United States. The Bank of England discovered that someone is stockpiling vast quantities of gold and 007 must infiltrate the mastermind behind this bold scheme. Auric Goldfinger intends to disrupt the global economy by attacking Fort Knox. This film also introduces the world to Pussy Galore (Goldfinger’s pilot) and Oddjob (Goldfinger’s hat-throwing henchman).
Connery would win his only Academy Award (best supporting actor) for his portrayal of the straight-laced cop, Jim Malone, who assists Eliot Ness (Costner) in bringing down the Chicago mob boss Al Capone amidst rampant police corruption.
Can you name the other film starring both Kevin Costner and Sean Connery? Here’s a hint: Connery only made a cameo appearance.
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