HE IS Scotland’s favourite actor according to one recent poll and has played a variety of roles in a cinematic career spanning six decades.
But Sir Sean Connery will forever be linked with the character that made him famous - James Bond.
Film legend dictates the former milkman from Fountainbridge was not the series producers’ first choice for the role and that creator Ian Fleming was far from convinced that he was suitable.
Connery was aged 30 and relatively unknown when he was signed up to play Bond for five films. The young actor could have had little idea the franchise would become a cinematic success story on an unprecedented scale.
He would leave the role in 1971 - with a brief return in 1983 - but has remained the mark against which all subsequent Bonds have been measured against.
“For me, Connery’s Bond endures because of his muscularity: you buy that he could crush an enemy’s windpipe or garrotte an anonymous SMERSH foot soldier without missing a beat,” said film critic Jamie Dunn.
Connery’s Bond endures because of his muscularity: you buy that he could crush an enemy’s windpipe or garrotte an anonymous SMERSH foot soldier without missing a beatJamie Dunn, film critic
“None of his successors had his danger. Even in later entries, like Diamonds are Forever, when he was paunchy and bored of the character, he still bristled with aggression.
“Plus, under all that steely gruffness, he’s a great actor. He’s from the Robert Mitchum school - he does all his acting with his bulk and his eyes. It took everyone years to catch on to his brilliance. It’s clear in films like The Man Who Would Be King and The Untouchables but looking back at those early Bond movies, that charisma and intensity is there too. To misquote Carly Simon, nobody did Bond better.”
Ahead of the release of the 24th spy adventure starring secret agent 007 on October 26, we profile five of Connery’s most memorable moments while on Her Majesty’s secret service.
The first introduction: Dr No
While comfortably seated at a card table in an up-market casino, a suave individual in a dinner suit is asked his name by an opponent. After first lighting a cigarette, the man answers: ‘Bond, James Bond.’ In an inspired moment, Monty Norman’s Bond theme begins to play - forever linking the man and the music in the eyes of the audience.
Going off the rails: From Russia With Love
While Connery’s Bond was portrayed as enjoying the finer things in life, no audience could believe him as a secret agent unless he was capable of defending himself when required. Bond is usually involved in at least half a dozen punch-ups in each film, but few match the suspense and expert choreography of when 007 takes on an assassin while on board the Orient Express.
A shocking discovery: Goldfinger
Goldfinger is a strong contender for Connery’s best Bond simply for the sheer number of memorable moments it provides. While in Miami to keep tabs on bullion trader Auric Goldfinger, Bond seduces employee Jill Masterton. He is subsequently knocked unconscious in a hotel room by Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob. In a genuinely shocking scene, Bond comes round only to discover Masterton has been murdered and left covered in gold paint.
Do you expect me to talk? Goldfinger
It’s been parodied relentlessly over the years but this scene still retains some of its tension. Strapped to a cutting table, with an industrial laser inching towards him, Bond manages to keep his cool long enough to negotiate his release.
Face to face with a monster: You Only Live Twice
Another candidate for the finest Connery Bond. Having broken into the secret volcano lair of Ernst Stavro Blofeld - played with understated menace by Donald Pleasence - 007 is captured and brought to the control room to meet the supervillian. It is the first time the face of the megalomaniac is clearly seen, and even Bond is momentarily taken aback.