You know what? Fuck Chuck Norris. Sean Connery is a real winner.
And today that suave, woman-hating Scottish bastard is 79 years old! And still in a league of extraordinary gentlemen all of his own.
And, of course, it doesn’t even have to be said - but of course it has to be said! – the man wasn’t just James Bond, HE WAS JAMES BOND. They had tried to get this character off the page and onto the screen before, and it was a miserable failure. And Sean, the former bodybuilder who won a contest, created and dominated the mindset of this character, well, ever since then. Granted, he had some help from the director of some of the early Bond films, Terence Young, who really hammered some slightly gentlemanly qualities into the Scottish rogue, but even still.
Sean Connery with Ursula Andress on the set of Dr. No.
Sean Connery was the original Clive Owen. The man is all brute, all animal. But he operated with this masculine sense of cheese and charm that makes the fact that the early Bond was certainly an asshole and sometimes acted like a bit of a rapist and made you like him. Made you want to be him, made you want to go on an adventure with him, made you want to be the victim of some of his horrible advances.
And typically when we talk about the quality of the successive actors to inhabit the role of James Bond, it’s usually in a Sean Connery yard stick.
In fact, when Sean briefly left the series after You Only Live Twice before of financial disputes, so heavy was the loss to the series, that the opening (see below) of the following film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in the series had to use a meta moment of breaking the fourth wall to actually inform the audience that the filmmakers were well aware that this new guy was not Sean Connery.
Defying all the odds, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was actually a truly great film, but it’s star, Australian model George Lazenby, didn’t stay in the role, leaving the series because of, again, disputes over pay with the producers. So who did they call back? Sean Fucking Connery. Of course.
This is about Sean Connery, not Bond history in general, so I’ll spare you a lot of details about the how’s and the why’s of the Great Bond Battle of 1983: Sean Connery’s Never Say Never Again (the title coming from it’s star’s declaration that he would never play the role of British superspy 007 again) and Roger Moore’s Octopussy. When the dust settled, Octopussy actually won at the box office but poor Roger Moore lost at a much more serious game, the eternal tournament of life called YOU ARE NOT SEAN CONNERY, SIR.
This is a man that could appear in a (classic) film like Zardoz like this…
…and not give a shit. Ah, Zardoz. Look at that outfit. Who knows what that tells you if you’ve never seen the underrated sci fi classic. Obviously, you can guess it’s just ridiculous. And Sean Connery is his brutal best in it, playing a hunter and a cad, some of the things he’s at his best doing, it would seem.
And see, that’s the thing about Connery. He’s a good, solid actor. And he’s appeared in many a film of real, strong quality. And he’s also appeared in just outright shitty movies too, like The Avengers and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Or Entrapment. But he’s also been in a lot of really in between movies that are maybe ridiculous, but fun and good in different ways. Maybe just because of him, like Rising Sun starring Wesley Snipes. I mean, that movie, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, is a fucking joke, and I still love it. Or Medicine Man. Oh my God that movie is silly. The same with The Hunt For Red October. But it’s Sean Connery. It’s the man who claimed that he was offered the role of Morpheus in The Matrix and Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings and turned them down and he’s going to do his own thing.
“An open-handed slap is justified – if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.”
-Sean Connery, in an interview with Playboy magazine, 1965.
Even his misogyny is ridiculous and lovable. You applaud the things he says the same way you do Don Draper, the difference, of course, being that Don Draper is a fictional character sending up the way we were and Sean Connery is a guy who, well… he’s from a previous generation, alright? And it’s one who’s values we’ve hopefully (started to) migrate from distantly.
“There are women who take it to the wire. That’s what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation. They want a smack.”
-Sean Connery, in an interview with Barbara Walters in 1987.
You have to wonder how off some of those SNL Jeopardy skits were, right?
And he’s got the voice. Someday there needs to be a Pixar comedy that’s entirely voiced by Sean Connery and James Earl Jones, just having a massive distinct voice off.
I think I could probably sit here and jack off a list of all the great Sean Connery movies out there. And you’d read it and you’d just nod your head, saying, “Yeah!” or however you exclaim excitement and enthusiasm. But whatever film or role of his you know and like the best, my point is that you have one. He may not be your most beloved actor, but you recognize this man as a force within the film world.
And of course, he was also Indy’s dad, man.
And easily one of the originators of “Men want to be him and women want to be with him,” as I said earlier. And the men who both want to be him and be with him.
Ah, Sir Sean Connery. A walking pillar of the cinema.