With the recent news of Sean Connery’s passing at 90, it seemed appropriate to highlight his best, or most interesting films. Not only did Sean Connery create the template over how to portray the character of British Secret Agent James Bond, he also created the template on how an actor of a film franchise series could move on to other roles and not be overshadowed by that role. Here’s a primer of the films to see.
“Dr No’ broke Sean Connery into international fame in the role Commander James Bond, but Goldfinger established all of the elements for the series, Connery felt comfortable and seem to understand how to approach the character. His Bond was intelligent, but with a charm and animal magnetism that made him compelling and a little dangerous, Bond was also very much a product of the 1950s mindset when author Ian Flemming first created the character. Bond is assigned to investigate wealth industrialist Aluic Goldfinger, and in the process learns of a plot involving Fort Knox, there’s the subplot to avenge the ill fated Masterson sisters, but it his interplay with love interest rival Pussy Galore Honor Blackman that is most remembered, aside from the laser sequence and rival Odd Job.
From Russia With Love (1963)
The second film in the series, and very faithful to the Ian Fleming book, this is one of the very best espionage films of the early sixties, rounded out by a cast that includes Lotte Lenya and a young Robert Shaw. A Russian woman is recruited to lure Bond with her charm and the promise of a Russian Lektor device. Daniela Bianchi plays the Russian love interest, Tatiana Romanova, and Shaw plays Red Grant a rival that is almost equal to Bond.
While Alfred Hitchcock’s film may be seen as flawed it is an interesting psychological study, Connery plays Mark Rutland, a man who get’s pulled into the intrigue of Marnie Edgar Tippi Hedren, who is involved with a prior robbery before she becomes Rutland’s employee. They become a couple and Connery tries to untangle her repressed memories about her past.
Murder on The Orient Express (1974)
Connery is a support player in this ensemble cast based on Agatha Christie’s clever novel of the same name. He plays Colonel Arbuthnot a passenger on board a train that happens to hold Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, a murder takes place and all of the passenger’s who seem to be random strangers, oddly turn out to be connected to the murder victim.
The surreal post apocalyptic adventure set in 2293, John Boorman’s film seems to comment on class conflict, the human population is divided between the ‘eternals’ and the ‘brutals, and Connery plays Zed, a brutal exterminator. Connery is pulled into the Vortex and deals with the Eternals, Sean’s animal magnetism is on full display on this flawed but interesting film.
The Untouchables (1987)
This reimaging of the old television series and book from 1957, the film was helmed by director icon Brian De Palma, and based on the history of Eliot Ness, and lethal rival Al Capone. Connery plays the ill fated officer Jim Malone. Many of Connery’s sequences and his dialog are well remembered. Connery won an Oscar for the role, and nearly outshines Kevin Costner and Robert De Niro.
The Hunt For Red October (1990)
Russian Naval Captain Ramius is given control of a new submarine, The Red October, a nuclear sub with a stealth system, after killing an officer, he issues false orders that they are to conduct missile drills off of America’s east coast, American sub USS Dallas gives chase with CIA analyist Jack Ryan Alec Baldwin is brought in a cat and mouse game. Based on Tom Clancy’s novel the film was rounded out with a strong cast, Scott Glenn and James Earl Jones.
Rising Sun (1993)
This crime thriller focused on the Japanese business culture and how they deal with America. Detective Webster Smith Wesley Snipes is brought in to investigate the murder of a prostitute at the headquarters of Nakamoto, and Connery plays John Connor, a expert on Japanese affairs and former police captain. Layers of business and political intrigue drives this tale based on Michael Crichton’s novel, while Connor espouses cultural insights.
Finding Forrester (2000)
In what is arguably Connery’s last great performance, set in the Bronx, a seventeen year old black man, Jamal Rob Brown is invited to join a prestigious private High School due to his high intellect as a prose writer and skills on the basketball court. Jamall befriends eccentric writer William Forrester Sean Connery, their rival is professor Robert Crawford F. Murray Abraham, who assumes Jamal is plagiarizing, and cannot accept the teen could be that adept.