The life and films of Sir Thomas Sean Connery
Sir Thomas Sean Connery
Who else could be voted People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” at the age of 60?
Only one contender: Sean Connery. Indeed, in 1999, when he was 69, he was voted “Sexiest Man of the Century.” When advised of the award, he replied, “Well, there aren’t many sexy dead men, are there.”
He has made 65 films and become an icon of the screen. His awards include an Oscar (only one, Best Supporting Actor for his role in the Untouchables (1988,) a Golden Globe (for the same film,) and the American Film Institute Life Achievement award. He was dubbed a Knight of the British Empire in 1999. He even has an asteroid named after him.
Steven Spielberg said, “There are seven genuine movie stars in the world today, and Sean is one of them.”
This past year, 2011, his spokesperson announced that Sir Connery would no longer make public appearances.
It’s a sad day when we must bid adieu to the “Sexiest Man of the Century.” High time for a tribute to his life and his films -- all his films.
The leading, leading man of the sixties
He is best known for his suave, sang-froid performance of Ian Flemming’s racy-for-the-times “man with a license to kill,” 007. For those of us old enough to have been movie goers in the sixties, Connery is the James Bond, the spy with the sophisticated life, the martini “shaken not stirred,” the custom rolled cigarettes, the Saville Row made-to-measure suits, all those incredibly cool cars, the gadgets from “Q”… And then there were the Bond women, each one more beautiful than the last, with names like Plenty O’Toole and Pussy Galore or Xenia Onatopp, Holly Goodhead and Honey Ryder.
For almost a decade, Bond was Connery and Connery was Bond. No distinctions made. Connery must have been as coolly urbane, as refined, as cultured, as debonair and as well-heeled as the fictional Oxford-educated patrician Bond.
How surprised we would have been to learn of Sean Connery’s real life.
The young “Tommy” Connery
Thomas Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh in August of 1930, to Euphemia, “Effie” (McClean) and Joseph Connery. Effie worked as a cleaning woman and Joseph as a factory worker and truck driver. His maternal grandparents were Gaelic speakers from Fife and Protestants. His paternal grandparents were second generation immigrants from Ireland and Roman Catholic. He had one younger brother, Neil, born in 1938.
Tommy was a small-built boy in his primary years, but at puberty he went through a rapid growth spurt. As a teen, his nickname was “Big Tam,” at 6'2" a boy so well grown, he claims to have had an affair with an adult woman at the age of 14.
Like many others of that time, taking on the responsibilities of the oldest boy in the family, he went to work as a helper on a milk delivery truck when he was 9, in the depth of the Great Depression. At 13, he dropped out of school to work full time and held down a number of jobs until at age 15, he joined the Royal Navy and served on the HMS Formidable.
After a medical discharge for duodenal ulcers (a family trait) he returned to Edinburgh and a collection of casual jobs: a truck driver, a lifeguard at the Portobello swimming baths, a coffin polisher, a day laborer, as well as returning to milk delivery for the local cooperative.
According to one source, Connery soon ran afoul of one of Edinburgh’s many gangs, the Valdor Gang, supposedly one of the most ruthless in that tough city. One night he was approached by them while playing in a billiard hall and he refused to allow them to steal his jacket. He was followed by six gang members to a balcony at the Palais, fifteen feet from the ground. There, Connery took them on. From then on, he was known on Edinburgh’s streets as a “hard man.”
In his late teens, he went to work as an artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art, a job recommended by a body-builder friend, Archie Brennan, a former Mr. Scotland.
Artist, Richard De Marco painted several portraits of the young Connery, describing him as, “very straight, slightly shy, too-too beautiful for words, a virtual Adonis.” Connery earned 15 shillings an hour as an artist model.
He became a serious body builder at the age of 18. According to his official website, he came third in the 1950 Mr. Universe contest.
One of his competitors invited him to auditions for a production of South Pacific, and Connery made his stage debut as a member of the chorus.
He was also a devoted footballer and played for Bonnyrigg Rose. While on tour with South Pacific, Connery filled in for a local football match with a team that the manager of Manchester United, Matt Busby, happened to be scouting. Busby was impressed with Connery and offered him a contract.
Connery is quoted as saying he was tempted to accept but, “I realized a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30 and I was already 23. I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”
Sean Connery’s Early Career
To support himself, Connery worked backstage at the King’s Theatre in 1951 and took bit parts in order to learn the trade. He made his film debut in a tiny, uncredited role in 1955 in Errol Flynn’s Lilacs in the Spring.
He came to the public’s attention in a 1957 live telecast of Requiem for a Heavyweight, with Michael Caine, a role he received only because Jack Palance backed out at the last minute and the producer decided to gamble on the novice actor when he heard women on the set whispering about Connery’s sex appeal. This led to a number of minor screen appearances:
- 1957 No Road Back -- Spike
- 1957 Hell Drivers -- Johnny Kates
- 1957 Action of the Tiger -- Mike
- 1957 Time Lock -- Welder #2
- 1958 Another Time, Another Place -- Mark Trevor, Connery's first lead. Lana Turner is a female American journalist who has an affair with BBC war correspondent.
- 1958 A Night to Remember RMS Titanic -- deck hand uncredited
- 1959 Darby O'Gill and the Little People -- Michael McBride
- 1959 Tarzan's Greatest Adventure -- O'Bannion
- 1961 On the Fiddle -- Pedlar Pascoe
- 1961 The Frightened City -- Paddy Damion
- 1962 The Longest Day -- Pte. Flanagan 1962
His big break arrived in 1959, when he was offered two starring roles both of which were to released in 1963: king of the apes in the next Tarzan movie, or the tuxedo wearing spy, James Bond in Dr. No.
Connery chose the spy.
On the personal side
For a man who is famous for playing a womanizing character like Bond, in reality Connery has spent most of his adult life with a wedding ring securely affixed to his left hand. He married long-time girlfriend, Diane Cilento in December of 1962. They have a son, Jason Connery, born in January of 1963. Though the marriage survived Sean’s reported affair with Raquel Welch in 1966, the couple divorced in September of 1973.
The Bond Years – 1962-71
The creator of James Bond, author Ian Fleming was not pleased with the choice of Connery for the role, saying, “He’s not what I envisioned of James Bond. I’m looking for Commander Bond, not an overgrown stunt-man,” and added that Connery (muscular, tall and a Scot) was unrefined. He changed his mind after the premiere of Dr. No, so impressed with Connery he created a half-Scot, half-Swiss pedigree for 007 in his subsequent James Bond novels.
The truth was, Connery was unrefined, both in his manners and rugged good looks. In a kind of testosterone-loaded Pygmalion relationship, suave director, Terence Young took Connery into his tutelage. Lois Maxwell, the first Miss Moneypenny in the series is quoted as saying, “Terence took Sean under his wing, took him to dinner, showed him how to walk, how to talk, even how to eat.” The transformation was successful.
Connery went on to play the character of Bond in the first six films.
The formula for the movies was simple: lots of action, lots of gadgets, really rotten villains and most importantly, lots and lots of beautiful women, all of whom were driven to dive into bed with Bond within minutes of meeting him, though some were to try to kill him afterwards. James Bond was forever victorious, though at least once in each film he was at the mercy of his adversary (who unfortunately for them, never tried to kill him outright, but always through some complicated manner that inevitably allowed him to escape.) Bond was a comic-strip superhero for adults.
There's no doubt that the James Bond series was the vehicle that launched Connery to superstar status and though he went on to do better work, become a true serious dramatic actor and a screen legend, 007 is where it all started. Other Bonds have come and gone, but Connery remains synonymous with the part.
Here they are, the first six of the Bond series.
(1962), Dr. No Directed by Terence Young. Bond girl: Ursula Andress.
"James Bond (007) is Britain's top agent and is on an exciting mission, to solve the mysterious murder of a fellow agent. The task sends him to Jamacia, where he joins forces with Quarrel and a loyal CIA agent, Felix Leiter. While dodging tarantulas, "fire breathing dragons" and a trio of assassins, known as the three blind mice. Bond meets up with the beautiful Honey Ryder and goes face to face with the evil Dr. No" -- Written by simon_hrdng for the Internet Movie Data Bank
Sean Connery, James Bond/ Ursula Andress, Honey Ryder/ Joseph Wiseman, Dr. No/ Jack Lord, Felix Leiter /Bernard Lee, M/ Anthony Dawson, Professor Dent/ Zena Marshall, Miss Taro
Dr. No -- original trailer
(1963), From Russia with Love Directed by Terence Young. Bond girl: Daniela Bianchi.
"James Bond 007 is on the search for a Russian decoding machine, known as Lektor. Bond needs to find this machine, before the evil SPECTRE organization discovers it first. Whilst being romantically linked with Russian girl, Tatiana Romanova, Bond sneaks his way around Istanbul, whilst each SPECTRE agent tries to pick him off, including the over powering Donald 'Red' Grant and ex-KGB agent Rosa Klebb who knows all the tricks in the books and even possesses an incredible poison tipped shoe!" --- Written by simon_hrdng for the Internet Movie Data Bank
Sean Connery,James Bond/ Daniela Bianchi, Tatiana Romanova/ Pedro Armendariz, Kerim Bey / Lotte Lenya ,Rosa Klebb/ Robert Shaw, Donald Grant/ Bernard Lee,M/ Eunice Gayson, Sylvia Trench/ Lois Maxwell, Miss Moneypenny
Original trailer for From Russia with Love
(1964), Goldfinger Directed by Guy Hamilton. Bond girl: Honor Blackman.
"Bond is back and his next mission takes him to Fort Knox, where Auric Goldfinger and his henchman are planning to raid Fort Knox and obliterate the world economy. To save the world once again, Bond will need to become friends with Goldfinger, dodge killer hats and avoid Goldfinger's personal pilot, the sexy Pussy Galore. She might not have feelings for Bond, but will 007 help her change her mind?" -- Written by simon_hrdng for the Internet Movie Data Bank
Sean Connery, James Bond/ Honor Blackman, Pussy Galore/Gert Fröbe, Auric Goldfinger/ Shirley Eaton, Jill Masterson/ Tania MalletTilly Masterson/ Harold Sakata, Oddjob/ Bernard Lee, M/ Martin Benson, Solo/Cec Linder, Felix Leiter/Austin Willis, Simmons/Lois Maxwell, Miss Moneypenny
Original trailer for Goldfinger
(1965), Thunderball Directed by Terence Young. Bond girl: Claudine Auger
"James Bond continues on his fourth mission, with his aim to recover two stolen warheads. They have been taken by the evil SPECTRE organisation. The world is held hostage and Bond heads to Nassau. Here, he meets the beautiful Domino and is forced into a thrilling confrontation with SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo, on board his boat, the Disco Volante. Will 007 prevent the killing of millions of innocent victims?" -- Written by simon-hrdng for the Internet Movie Data Bank
Sean Connery, James Bond/Claudine Auger, Domino/Adolfo Celi, Largo/Luciana Paluzzi, Fiona/Rik Van Nutter,Felix Leiter/Guy Doleman, Count Lippe/Molly Peters, Patricia/ Martine Beswick, Paula/ Bernard Lee,'M'/Desmond Llewelyn ,'Q'/Lois Maxwell ,Moneypenny
Original Thunderball trailer
(1967) You Only Live Twice Directed by Lewis Gilbert. Bond girl: Akiko Wakabayashi
“When an American space capsule is swallowed up by what they believe to be a Russian spaceship, World War 3 nearly breaks out. The British Government, however, suspect that other powers are at work as the spacecraft went down near Japan. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is the force behind the theft, as James Bond discovers, but its motives are far from clear, and he must first find out where the captured space capsule is held before America and Russia initiate another world war.” -- Written by Graeme Roy for the Internet Movie Data Bank
Sean Connery, James Bond/Akiko Wakabayashi ,Aki/Mie Hama,Kissy/ Tetsurô Tanba, Tiger Tanaka/Teru Shimada, Mr. Osato/Karin Dor, Helga Brandt/Donald Pleasence, Blofeld/Bernard Lee,'M'/Lois Maxwell Miss Moneypenny/Desmond Llewelyn,'Q'
Original trailer for You Only Live Twice
(1971) Diamonds Are Forever Directed by Lewis Gilbert. Bond Girl: Jill St. John
“James Bond's mission is to find out who has been smuggling diamonds, which are not re-appearing. He adopts another identity in the form of Peter Franks. He joins up with Tiffany Case, and acts as if he is smuggling the diamonds, but everyone is hungry for these diamonds. He also has to avoid Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, the dangerous couple who does not leave anyone in their way. Ernst Stavro Blofeld isn't out of the question. He may have changed his looks, but is he linked with the heist? And if he is, can Bond finally defeat his ultimate enemy. “ -- Written by simon for the Internet Movie Data Bank
Sean Connery, James Bond/ Jill St. John,Tiffany Case/Charles Gray, Blofeld/ Lana Wood, Plenty O'Toole/ Jimmy Dean, Willard Whyte/Bruce Cabot, Saxby/Putter Smith, Mr. Kidd/Bruce Glover, Mr. Wint/Norman Burton, Leiter/Joseph Fürst ,Dr. Metz /Bernard Lee,'M'/Desmond Llewelyn, 'Q'/Leonard Barr,Shady Tree/Lois Maxwell, Moneypenny
Original trailer for Diamonds Are Forever
Besides Bond 1964 – 1971
Even while making the six Bond films in nine years, Connery made a number of other films while his star was ascending, including some highly acclaimed work that allowed the actor to move beyond the somewhat wooden James Bond and develop his reputation in other areas.
- 1964 Marnie, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren (The Birds) Hedren played a frigid bookkeeper, but reports that she and Hitchcock joked that Connery was “miscast.” . "Even if Marnie was so screwed up," says Hedren, "how could she not have been interested in such an attractive man?"
- 1964 Woman of Straw-- Tyrannical but ailing tycoon Charles Richmond becomes very fond of his attractive Italian nurse. Maria Gina Lollobrigida, Sean Connery and Ralph Richardson
- 1965 The Hill - In a North African military prison during World War II, five new prisoners struggle to survive in the face of brutal punishment and sadistic guards. Sean Connery, Harry Andrews and Ian Bannec. (I watched this film for the first time the other night on Encore and was very impressed with it.)
- 1966 A Fine Madness Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward and Jean Seberg A comedy about a genius of a poet suffering from writer’s block.
- 1968 Shalako A fairly standard Louis Lamour western with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot
- 1970 The Molly Maquires Sean Connery, Richard Harris and Samantha Eager. Nominated for an Oscar, the film revolves around a group of Irish emigrant coal miners fighting against the cruelty of the mine owners in 1876 Pennsylvania. (One of my favorites.)
- 1971 The Red Tent Sean Connery, Peter Finch and Claudia Cardinale. The commander of a failed 1928 Arctic airship expedition is remembering the events of the "Italia" airship flight, crash and subsequent rescue efforts.
- 1971 The Anderson Tapes Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon and Martin Balsam. A thief just released from ten years in jail, takes up with his old girlfriend in her posh apartment. He makes plans to rob the entire building. What he doesn't know is that his every move is recorded on audio and video tape
Have you noticed Sean Connery has played against every glamorous leading lady of the day?
On the personal side
Two years after a bitter divorce from Dianne Cilento, Connery married French artist Micheline Roquebrune in 1975. The couple are still married today.
Connery used part of the fees from his work as James Bond to establish a charity to support deprived children in Edinburgh as well as grants to Scottish Film production. Some sources found in this research have reported gossip in the British tabloids suggesting these charities would have earned him a Knighthood earlier (it was presented in 1999) had Connery not been a member and support of the Scottish National Party. Indeed, the award was originally declined by the UK government in 1997.
Beyond Bond 1972-1983
Although Bond had made Connery a star he did not like the role and said he was “fed up to here with the whole Bond bit.” Tired of being identified only as 007 (and bitter that some stars of Bond imitations were making more money than he was), Connery quit after You Only Live Twice.
In On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969,) George Lazenby took on the unwanted part. Lazenby was perceived to be a flop, and Connery was tempted back into the United Artists' fold with a record salary for its time, a whopping £1.25 million (which he then donated to a Scottish charity,) coupled with an agreement he would produce two other films. Connery played 007 in Diamonds Are Forever, with full intentions that the film was to be his last Bond film. As he said to his companion and soon to be wife, Micheline, “I will never, never play Bond again.” Those words would return to haunt him.
The films made during this period include some of Connery’s best works.
- 1973 The Offence Sean Connery, Trevor Howard and Vivien Merchant. A burned-out British police detective finally snaps while interrogating a suspected child molester. (A film deserving of more attention than it received, I think. Two riveting performance by two giants of the screen.)
- 1974 Zardoz Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman. In the far future, a savage trained only to kill finds a way into the community of bored immortals that alone preserves humanity's achievements. (A ho-hum film in my opinion. But hey! Some like it and we’re all entitled to our opinon)
- 1974 Murder on the Orient Express A stylish and polished rendition of classic Agatha Christie with an all-star ensemble cast. (A movie I watch at every opportunity.)
- 1975 The Terrorist Sean Connery, Ian McShane and Jeffrey Wickham A gang of hijackers led by Ian McShane seize a British plane as it is landing in Scandinavia and guess who has to save the day. (Kind of a cheap Bond knock-off, if you ask me and not rated highly.)
- 1975 The Wind and the Lion Sean Connery, Candace Bergen and Brian Keith At the beginning of the 20th century an American woman and her two children are abducted in Morocco by Berbers led by their chief, Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli. (Connery) The attempts to free her range from diplomatic pressure to military intervention. (Not one of my favorites, full of the stereotypes of the day and I found it hard to get past the Great Raisuli speaking with a thick Scottish burr.)
- 1975 The Man Who Would Be King Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, directed by John Huston. A wonderful five star-portrayal of Rudyard Kiplings tale of two renegade British Soldiers who go off in search of the mythical nation of Kafiristan, once the eastern boundary of Alexander the Great’s empire, and the site where the conqueror found his great love, Roxanne. (I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys adventure and Connery – and Caine. In fact, I love this film so much, I’ve added the trailer for it.)
- 1976 Robin and Marian Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn and Robert Shaw. Robin Hood, aging none too gracefully, returns exhausted from the Crusades to woo and win Maid Marian one last time. (Were it not for the performances of Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn, this would be one big yawn. I’m tired of Robin Hood stories – why does every actor want to do this role?)
- 1976 The Next Man Sean Connery, Cornelia Sharpe and Albert Paulsen. Khalil is an Arab who wants to admit the state of Israel into OPEC ( – he is also Sean Connery, and once again the accent gets in the way.) This is one of the few Connery films worth skipping.
- 1977 A Bridge Too Far Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal and Michael Caine, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Olivier, Maximilian Schnell, Edward Fox, James Caan, Edward Fox, Elliot Gould... (how could you lose?) A historic telling of the failed attempt to capture several bridges to Germany in World War II in a campaign called Operation Market-Garden.
- 1979 The First Great Train Robbery Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley-Anne Down. In Victorian England, a master criminal makes elaborate plans to steal a shipment of gold from a moving train. Based on the Michael Crichton novel.
- 1979 Meteor Sean Connery, Natalie Wood and Karl Malden. Your standard "meteor is about to hit the earth and only if the great superpowers can get together and send up a team of great superheroes" story. (You’ve all seen this story in one form or another.)
- 1979 Cuba Sean Connery, Brooke Adams and Jack Weston. A British mercenary arrives in pre-Revolution Cuba to help train the corrupt General Batista's army against Castro's guerrillas while he also romances a former lover now married to an unscrupulous plantation owner.
- 1981 Time Bandits (Connery as King Agamemnon)
- 1981 Outland Sean Connery, Frances Sternhagen and Peter Boyle. In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy. (A box-office flop and a bit of groaner due to all the sci-fi goof-ups, but a solid performance from Connery.)
- 1982 Wrong is Right Sean Connery, George Grizzard and Robert Conrad. A satire of American news reporting, Covert Agencies, and political system. “In a moment World War III... but first a word from our sponsor.” – tag line
- 1983 Five Days One Summer Sean Connery, Betsy Brantley and Lambert Wilson Sean Connery plays a doctor having an affair with a much younger Betsy Brantley. The strongest performance is by the Swiss Alps. Fantastic scenery. Nail-biting climax in a mountain climbing scene.
On the personal side
Sean Connery suffered from an extreme case of male-pattern baldness, losing his hair at 22. While he used a toupe in his film appearances, he absolutely refused to do so in real life. Says he, “Wigs, weaves or letting 18 hairs grow a foot and a half long so they can be wound round your head are not my style. Just let your head be and you don’t have a problem.”
1983 and back in Bond-age
In 1983, despite all vows to the contrary, Connery returned to the role of Bond for a tongue-in-cheek performance in Never Say Never Again. Why was this remake of Thunderball so titled, and indeed, why was it made at all? It’s a complicated story.
Author Ian Fleming has based his eighth novel, Thunderball on a film treatment he had produced in collaboration with Jack Whittingham and Kevin McClory. Rights to the novel were the subject of a bitter court battle, the outcome of which assigned the film rights to McClory. McClory had a different vision and wanted to do Bond his own way, but realizing the futility of competing with the highly-successful and established Bond series in the 60’s, he collaborated with EON to make Thunderball in 1965.
He retained the film rights and following the court prescribed 10 year re-make exclusion period, he started work on producing a new Bond movie in the late ‘70’s. After many legal battles, the new Bond film emerged in 1983 – with Sean Connery returning to the role after a 12 year hiatus.
The title was suggested by Sean’s wife, Micheline. “Never say never again.”
The complicated legalities burdening the script meant it was forced to retain the storyline of the novel. Only the details have changed: location, small tweaking of character’s names and in the method in which SPECTRE steals the nuclear missiles.
My favorite scenes in this movie are those featuring Rowan Atkinson as the bumbling consular attaché. It was his first American film appearance.
Cast of Never Say Never Again:
James Bond: Sean Connery /Maximillian Largo: Klaus Maria Brandauer /Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Max Von Sydow /Fatima Blush: Barbara Carrera /Domino Petachi: Kim Basinger /Felix Leiter: Bernie Casey /Q (Algernon): Alec McCowen / M: Edward Fox /Miss Moneypenny: Pamela Salem
"More than anything else, I'd like to be an old man with a good face, like Hitchcock or Picasso."—Sean Connery
In the mid-eighties, that was Connery’s wish, to age gracefully. As his subsequent films show, that desire was more than fulfilled.
He went on to make another twenty-four films, some of them box-office successes, some flops, some true dramatic accomplishments, proving definitively that Connery is more than another pretty face, that he was not just a star, but an artist of the screen. Though his forte continued to be the “action” hero much of the time, the last twenty years of Connery’s career brought a depth, a sensitivity, a new maturity to his performances.
- 1984 Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight A flop, a film one critic called, “So bad it’s useful as a somnambulant. Should carry a new rating: not for adiences over the age of ten.” I agree. Even Connery’s performance is not up to his normal standard.
- 1986 Highlander Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery and Clancy Brown. An immortal Scottish swordsman must confront the last of his immortal opponent, a murderously brutal barbarian who lusts for the fabled "Prize". A great financial success, but still typecasting for Connery.
- 1986 The Name of the Rose Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, Christian Slater and Helmut Qualtinger. An intellectually nonconformist monk investigates a series of mysterious deaths in an isolated medieval abbey, while avoiding the Inquisition. One of the best films. A huge thumbs up for the performances, for the plot, for the setting and above all for the atmosphere. I’ve included the trailer as this is, in my opinion, a must-see film.
- 1987 The Untouchables Connery won an Oscar for his performance as Malone, the aging, guilt-ridden cop who becomes Ness's mentor. Good performances also from Costner (of whom I am not a fan, normally) and DeNiro.
- 1988 The Presidio Sean Connery, Mark Harmon and Meg Ryan. Jay Austin is now a civilian police detective. Colonel Caldwell was his commanding officer years before when he left the military police over a disagreement over the handling of a drunk driver. Now a series of murders that cross jurisdictions force them to work together again. That Austin is now dating Caldwell's daughter is not helping the relationship at all. While this one is no highlight in Sean Connery's career it is better than many people make it be. Perhaps it is due to the treatment: more insight and depth than action.
- 1988 Memories of Me Connery does a walk-on bit as himself in this lack-lustre film.
- 1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Harrison Ford, Sean Connery and Alison Doody. When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father's footsteps and stop the Nazis. (One of those truly fun films that no self-respecting film buff wants to admit they love…)
- 1989 Family Business Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick. Jessie is an ageing career criminal who has been in jail more than he’s been out. His son Vito, while currently on the straight and narrow, is no stranger to illegal activity. They both have great hope for Adam, Vito's son who is without a criminal past BUT… While not a great commercial success, this film is one of Connery’s best performances as the self-centered grandfather who eventually steps up and does the right thing.
- 1990 The Hunt for Red October Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Sam Neil, James Earl Jones and an all-round excellent cast. Soviets create a new nuclear submarine that runs silent due to a revolutionary propulsion system. Russian sub captain defects to take the sub the US hoping to prevent a nuclear (missile) war. Lots of plot turns and twists in this high-tech thriller. Connery as Captian Marko Ramius is another wonderful performance, managing to portray a man resigned to whatever fate awaits him, but still ready for a fight.
- 1990 The Russia House Sean Connery, Michelle Pfeiffer, Edward Fox and Roy Scheider. An expatriate British publisher unexpectedly and reluctantly finds himself working for British intelligence to investigate people in Russia. Based on the novel by John le Carre. Okay, so I’m not only a Connery fan, but a long-time fan of le Carre’s novels. But, this bias aside, here is truly a great film, complex plot, humorous, tense, great performances, beautiful photography and scenery of Russia, Lisbon and the west coast of British Columbia -- and a happy ending. Even at 60, Connery is totally plausible as the love interest of the beautiful Pfeifer. Once again, I’m including the trailer for any of you who haven’t seen it.
1991 Highlander II: The Quickening Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery and Virginia Madsen. In the future, Highlander Connor MacLeod must prevent the destruction of Earth under an anti-ozone shield. Okay, I didn’t like the first one to begin with, so instead of going with my own opinion, I looked up others’. Consensus: bad movie. Once critic said she’d “rather clean toilets than sit through it again.”
1992 Medicine Man Sean Connery, Lorraine Bracco and José Wilker An eccentric scientist working for a large drug company is working on a research project in the Amazon jungle. He sends for a research assistant and a gas chromatograph because he's found and then lost an amazing discovery. When the assistant turns out to be a "mere woman," he rejects her help, but she won’t be rejected. Meanwhile the bulldozers get closer. I loved this film. Bracco, complete with her Brooklynese accent and loud, whiney, in your face attitude is the perfect foil for Connery’s drunken, guilt-ridden, hygienically challenged Dr. Robert Campbell. Add to this the incredible Amazon rain forest,a tribe of unspoiled and friendly Amazon natives, some very skillful photography and you have a film everyone should enjoy. Yep, I’ve brought in the trailer.
- 1993 Rising Sun Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. Made at the height of the Japan-bashing era, this film has Connery as an expert on Japanese culture (though much of his observations are more than a little over-the-top) and Snipes as his protégé, investigating the murder of a blond-haired, blue-eyed American woman on the board room table of a newly opened Japanese corporate headquarters. The film’s strong points are: good performances, an intriguing plot and lots of sexy innuendo. The weaknesses are: the use of every stereotype possible when it comes to Japanese culture to an absurd degree. An entertaining watch, but keep the obvious bias in mind. (You're not really learning anything about the Japanese).
- 1994 A Good Man in Africa Colin Friels, Sean Connery, John Lithgow, Diana Rigg, Louis Gossett Jr. A true flop. This politically incorrect, and uncomfortably pointless movie's most interesting character, who inspires the title, is an unbending Scotish doctor named Murray, played by Sean Connery with a certain droll anger-- that all thing considered, seems just right.
- 1995 Just Cause Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburne and Kate Capshaw. Bobby Earl is facing the electric chair for the murder of a young girl. Eight years after the crime he calls in law professor Paul Armstrong, to help prove his innocence. Armstrong uncovers some overlooked evidence, but the police aren't interested - Bobby was their killer. Taglines: Buried deep in the Florida Everglades is a secret that can save an innocent man or let a killer kill again. I enjoyed this film. There are enough twists, turns and surprises to keep you riveted – as if the strong performances by Connery and Fishburne aren’t enough.
- 1995 First Knight Sean Connery, Richard Gere and Julia Ormond. The classic love triangle. A by-the-numbers generic King Arthur and Camelot plot with the only new twist being a lot more emphasis on Lancelot. The battle scenes are big but not realistic. The Camelot set is cartoonish. The plot is on a comic book level. The film is just a showcase for the three glamorous leads.Yawn!
- 1995 Arabian Knight – animated, voice
- 1996 Dragonheart – animated, voice of Draco
- 1996 The Rock Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed HarrisA renegade general (Harris) and his group of U.S. Marines take over Alcatraz and threaten San Francisco Bay with biological weapons. A chemical weapons specialist (Cage) and the only man to have ever escaped from the Rock (Connery) attempt to prevent chaos. If you’re an action junkie, you’ll love it. If you’re not, try to think of it as Bond in his old age without all the women.
- 1998 The Avengers Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery Two British agents, John Steed and Emma Peel (Fiennes and Thurman) team up to stop Sir August De Wynter (Connery) from destroying the world with a weather changing machine. I turned to another channel after fifteen minutes so I have nothing to say – except don’t waste your time. But then I thought, maybe that’s just me so I looked for the opinion of others. “It was worse than my wildest nightmares -- and I have an excellent imagination.” “Such a flop it doesn't really deserve comment, but here are a few nonetheless.” “one of the flattest movies to come down the pike in a long time.” Okay?
- 1998 Playing by Heart Eleven articulate people work through affairs of the heart in L.A. A repertoire film loaded with stars, Connery, Angeline Joli, Ellen Burstyn, Gena Rowlands, Madeline Stowe, Dennis Quaid, and more. A commercial flop, but an endearing film.
- 1999 Entrapment Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Ving Rhames. An insurance agent is sent by her employers to track down a thief. A fast-paced action film with some stunning scenes in Scotland, Bangkok and who knows where else BUT, while Connery is one of a handful of men who have retained their looks and masculine appeal beyond middle age, the likelihood that the luscious Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is at the peak of her beauty here, would fall for the almost seventy-year-old tests the bounds of credibility. Perhaps the romance was written in as a fantasy for all the codgers to give them hope.
- 2000 Finding Forrester Sean Connery, Rob Brown and F. Murray Abraham. An Afro-american teen, Jamal Wallace, a writing prodigy finds a mentor in a reclusive author, William Forrester. Despite the familiar plot, the film succeeds because of an excellent screenplay and outstanding acting performances by all three stars. One of the surprises in the film is the great soundtrack, mostly Jazz songs from Miles Davis and others. Anyone wishing to see a mature and thought-provoking film that is entertaining and enjoyable to watch should check this one out.
- 2003 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend and Peta Wilson Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain (Connery) leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as "The Fantom." This "League" comprises seafarer/inventor Captain Nemo, vampiress Mina Harker, an invisible man named Rodney Skinner, American secret service agent Tom Sawyer, the ageless and invincible Dorian Gray, and the dangerous split personality of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Okay, I’m not going to claim the film was a masterpiece – it isn’t – but it is two hours of fun. Nothing wrong with fun. Just because I liked it doesn’t mean I have a low IQ!
The League of Extraordinary Gentlement was to be Sean Connery’s last film.
On the personal side
As is easy to see in some of his images on the screen, Connery carries two tattoos from his youthful Navy days. One reads “Mom and Dad,”and the other “Scotland Forever.”
His official website states, these two tattoos express what is dear to Sean, family and country.
2006 -- A fitting honor
Quite a body of work! Connery has defined what it means to be a leading man in roles as a varied as a dapper spy in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a turn of the century British adventurer, a reclusive writer, an aging Robin Hood, a chivalrous Arab sheik, an insubordinate British army trooper at the height of the British Empire, a fourteenth century monk and a street-smart Chicago cop during Prohibition. What all these diverse characters have in common is that they are all pure Connery. His larger than life presence has been the anchor that saved many a film; his skill and charisma bringing fantasy to merge with believability.
In an interview with The New York Times’ Benedict Nightingale, he explained his philosophy. “My strength as an actor is that I've stayed close to the core of myself, which has something to do with a voice, a music, a tune that is very much tied up with my background."
In 2006, the American Film Institute bestowed Sir Thomas Sean Connery with its highest honor: The Lifetime Acheivement Award. Sir Howard Stringer, chair, AFI Board of Trustees wrote:
"Sir Sean Connery is an international film icon. Though best remembered for creating one of the great film heroes of all time, his talents transcend typecasting, and his body of work not only stands the test of time, but illuminates a career more extraordinary than James Bond himself. Sir Sean is an artist of the highest order, and AFI is honored to present him with its 34th Life Achievement Award."
Here is a video of Sir Connery’s acceptance speech. As usual, he is unpretentious in manner, totally charming and, for someone of seventy-six years of age, quite nimble.
- -- Lynda M Martin, January 4, 2012
Hubber Cogerson on Connery
- Sean Connery:His Best & Worst Movies- From James Bond to Indiana Jones to Sir Billi.
A statistical look at Sean Connery's entire movie career. All of his movies he made from 1958 to 2003, will be ranked by box office grosses and critical reception.