A tribute to the 1st man to play James Bond.
Sean Connery, the acclaimed Scottish actor, has recently passed away at the age of 90, following a long illness. This was one of the biggest shockers, because he was such a great actor, who had to reach the end of the road. It’s impossible for me to imagine the pain his family, friends, and fellow collaborators are going through.
Nonetheless, we must never forget how he provided some of the best movie performances the cinema has ever seen. He was the first actor to portray James Bond, starting with “Dr. No” and ending with “Diamonds Are Forever,” and returned for one final round in “Never Say Never Again.” Yes, I mean the words “first actor to portray James Bond,” because he inspired the likes of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig, among others, to play the Ian Fleming character in later films.
He won both the Oscar and Golden Globe for his portrayal of the fictional Irish cop Jim Malone in Brain De Palma’s “The Untouchables,” a dangerous and entertaining 1987 flick, co-starring Kevin Costner as FBI agent Eliot Ness and Robert De Niro as gangster Al Capone. Despite its talks about Connery providing one of the worst Irish accents, he was still able to deliver the goods by playing the tough guy who takes no prisoners, even he eventually gets shot to death. In fact, his death scene was beautifully acted and shot.
Besides the James Bond franchise and Oscar-winning role “The Untouchables,” he’s also had a big movie career with major hits. In “The Hunt for Red October,” based on Tom Clancy’s novel, he portrayed the rogue Soviet navy captain Marko Ramius, who had big plans for the United States with his Red October submarine. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this film, but he was electrifying in how well he uses the Russian accent and the film (co-starring Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan, James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn, and Sam Neil) was thrilling and dangerous. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” he played Indy’s father Professor Henry Jones, who joined his son on an adventure to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis get a hold of it. He and Harrison Ford both had chemistry in its father-son relationship, and the sequel was fun on its own terms.
I also checked out Gus Van Sant’s “Finding Forrester,” released 20 years ago, on my Amazon Prime account, and I was marveled by it. In it, he plays a secluded author named William Forrester, who becomes a mentor to a young gifted writer (Rob Brown). It passion for literature, its powerful performances (also with Busta Rhymes, Anna Paquin, F. Murray Abraham, Michael Pitt, and Matt Damon), and its faith in its two main protagonists still holds up today. It’s about finding one’s self and two individuals connect. Connery and Brown both ignite the screens in their own respective ways. And Connery’s other films include “The Rock,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Highlander,” “The Great Train Robbery,” and his uncredited role of King Richard in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”
He retired from acting in 2006 after receiving the AFGI’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His reason was his dislike for the “idiots now making films in Hollywood,” and when he was offered reprise his role in the fourth “Indiana Jones” movie, he said: “retirement is too much damn fun.” Other reasons include his kidney tumor surgery and the fact that “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” bombed critically and commercially. That movie was his final live-action appearance, until he briefly come out to voice in an animated movie called “Sir Billi.” I never saw those two movies, but I acknowledge that Connery was better than them.
Sean Connery was a legendary actor, who’s acting style and tone made movie-goers appreciate his talents, and it’s a shame we had to lose another celebrity of his high standards this year. But watching his first-rate performances will kept his spirit alive, and he’ll never be forgotten as the first James Bond actor.