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The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Sean Connery

Sep. 30, 2013by:
With all due respect to previous Good, Bad & The Badass entries, Sigourney Weaver, Denzel Washington and George Clooney, as good as they are, nobody matches up to this week’s subject. Look up “badass” in the dictionary, and I’m pretty sure you’d find a photo of this guy…

Sean Connery

What can I possibly say about Sean Connery that hasn’t already been said? By this point, Connery is more than just an actor. He’s an icon. Even if he had never made another movie after his run as James Bond, he’d be remembered as one of the giants of his day. But, James Bond is only the tip of the iceberg for Connery, who’s gone on to reinvent himself several times over his fifty year career as a star.

One thing that makes Connery such a downright model for manhood is that unlike many of his contemporaries, he never tried to hide his age, but embraced it as the thing that made him human. While as Bond he embodied a sort of unattainable ideal, post-Bond, he was one of the most personable heroes of his time. It’s noteworthy that his first post-Bond hit, THE ANDERSON TAPES, had him ditch his toupee, and carry a little extra weight in the gut. And guess what? Women still loved him, and guys still wanted to be him.

To be sure, Connery’s first post-Bond decade was uneven. For every THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, ROBIN & MARIAN, or THE WIND & THE LION, there’s a NEXT MAN, THE TERRORISTS, or, laughably ZARDOZ (a complete mindf*ck of a movie, that’s still worth watching if you want to “trip balls”).

Connery couldn’t resist the temptation to return to Bond in 1983, for the rogue 007 film NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, once again donning a toupee, and looking amazingly lean and fit for a guy in his mid-fifties (ironically, he’s a full three years younger than the guy who was playing Bond at the time, his off-screen pal Roger Moore). While the movie wasn’t great, and the production was apparently a nightmare, Connery made enough money off of it that he was able to take several years off, and when he re-emerged, he had reinvented himself by embracing his age. Movies like HIGHLANDER, THE NAME OF THE ROSE, THE UNTOUCHABLES (for which he won a Oscar), INDIANA JONES & THE LAST CRUSADE, & THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER had him as a kind of sage mentor figure to his younger co-stars, even though he often stole the film out from under them. At sixty-five, he even managed to re-establish himself as a modern action hero in THE ROCK, a full thirty-four years after DR.NO.

His Best Role

Connery himself has said that no matter what happens, he’ll always be remembered as James Bond, and I agree. As much as I love the other Bonds (I have a soft spot for Roger Moore) and appreciate Daniel Craig’s reinvention of the character, all the other actors play Bond. Connery is Bond. If you’ve ever read the Ian Fleming novels, you’ll notice that the literary Bond isn’t too similar to his big-screen counterpart. It’s been said that Connery, along with DR.NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, and THUNDERBALL director Terrence Young essentially re-created the character for the big-screen, patterning him on their own personalities (mostly Young’s) and it shows. They took the upper-crust, maybe even snobbish character, and made him larger-than-life, and most importantly- fun. People always say Connery was the “serious” Bond, but that’s inaccurate. Sure, he wasn’t Roger Moore, but he always played it tongue-in-cheek (although he went too far in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN- literally winking at the audience in the last shot). For that, Connery will always be the person we associate with the character, and it’s no wonder that whenever Connery appears on The Oscars (or any other awards show) he’s always backed up by the Bond theme (to his noticeable chagrin).

Outside Bond, I’d say Connery’s best performance is a toss-up between Malone in THE UNTOUCHABLES and Ramius in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. While his part in THE UNTOUCHABLES is universally praised (his “never bring a knife to a gunfight” line still pops up in hip-hop tracks), Ramius is often made fun of for the fact that he’s a Russian submarine captain with a Scottish accent. Really though, who cares? Sure, he’s not accurate, but he’s better. He’s badass and larger-than-life, just like our movie heroes should be. That scene where he kills the Red October’s political officer with his bare hands is insanely cool.

His Most Overrated Film

I can’t even dare call Connery overrated in any of his movies, lest he happen to read this article from wherever he’s retired to. Even though he’s in his eighties, the dude could probably hop a plane, show up on my doorstep and beat the crap out of me. Well, I doubt he’d care much actually, being too busy shooting a game of golf, or counting his millions. Seriously though, I love Connery in everything, even his bad movies. The only movie of his I really question is METEOR, which was a late addition to the seventies disaster movie cycle, as well as a kind of a precursor to ARMAGEDDON or DEEP IMPACT, featuring Sean as a scientist looking to stop a giant meteor from hitting earth. Connery himself absolutely hated the movie, once referring to the special effects depicting the meteors as looking like “little pieces of shit.” Otherwise, he’s a pretty consistent guy.

His Most Underrated Performance

Connery’s got a ton of underrated films. Even in his bad movies, Connery is super cool, like in THE PRESIDIO, where he beats up a bar-room toughie with nothing but his thumb. One of my favorites is a movie he did in 1981 called OUTLAND. Directed by Peter Hyams, it’s essential a sci-fi remake of HIGH NOON, where he plays a marshal stationed at a mining colony on Jupiter’s Moon. It’s heavily influenced by ALIEN, with the lived-in production design and the score by Jerry Goldsmith. The plot is so cool- with a corporation giving its workers a drug to increase productivity with the side-effect of making a percentage of them insane- that in high school, I all out stole it for a student film I made (en Français, with me in the Connery role- natch). Connery is the perfect everyman hero here, being both believably human (his wife and son have just left him behind to return to Earth), and incredibly tough, with a long chase scene being the movie’s action highlight. It’s a cool little flick, and totally underrated.

His Most Memorable Scene

For me, Connery’s best ever scene is his train-battle with Robert Shaw’s Red Grant in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. The frenzied editing by Peter Hunt (which pretty much invented the way action movies are cut) mixed with Connery (and Shaw’s) insane physicality made this one of the best on-screen fights of all time.

His Top 5 Films

1. Any James Bond movie
2. THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
3. THE UNTOUCHABLES
4. INDIANA JONES & THE LAST CRUSADE
5. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

Next Up

Alas, Connery's been retired for the last decade, and doesn't seem to be keen on returning anytime soon. From all your fans Sean- hope you're having a great retirement, and thanks for the movies!

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:59AM on 09/30/2013
Exshellent Shelection for thish week'sh "Good, Bad and Badassh". The man truly ish one of thoshe actorsh who getsh shexier ash he agesh. I think "Entrapment" ish pretty underrated. Shure, it'sh shilly and ish moshtly remembered for Catherine Zeta-Jonesh's assh, but it'sh incredibly entertaining and ishn't ash riddled with plot holesh as heisht filmsh of thish type are wont to be. I alsho thoroughly enjoyed hish chemishtry with Nicolash Cage in "The Rock", probably the only truly good film
Exshellent Shelection for thish week'sh "Good, Bad and Badassh". The man truly ish one of thoshe actorsh who getsh shexier ash he agesh. I think "Entrapment" ish pretty underrated. Shure, it'sh shilly and ish moshtly remembered for Catherine Zeta-Jonesh's assh, but it'sh incredibly entertaining and ishn't ash riddled with plot holesh as heisht filmsh of thish type are wont to be. I alsho thoroughly enjoyed hish chemishtry with Nicolash Cage in "The Rock", probably the only truly good film Michael Bay hash directed.
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3:36AM on 09/30/2013

Seriously?

I was 100% confident you'd put League of extraordinary gentlemen as his worst. Guess I was wrong on that!
I was 100% confident you'd put League of extraordinary gentlemen as his worst. Guess I was wrong on that!
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3:48AM on 09/30/2013
I was expecting The Avengers (not the superhero one) as his worst movie.

Other than that... I miss him in movies.
I was expecting The Avengers (not the superhero one) as his worst movie.

Other than that... I miss him in movies.
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6:19AM on 09/30/2013
YES! I totally agree that Outland is Mr. Connery's most underrated performance. He owns that role. Aside from Bond, I like him best in Outland and The Hunt For Red October.
YES! I totally agree that Outland is Mr. Connery's most underrated performance. He owns that role. Aside from Bond, I like him best in Outland and The Hunt For Red October.
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10:02AM on 09/30/2013
Good article...
Good article...
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1:00PM on 09/30/2013

Agree

The most badass by a mile.
The most badass by a mile.
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1:05PM on 09/30/2013

BRILLIANT STUFF

This article is the reason why I still love this site. Bravo. Lets appreciate the legends rather than mock them or make them goto movie jail simply because studios won't give them a chance. Connery in Thunderball, enough said! I was reading a popular movie mag a few months ago and how they made Simpsons type of jokes on old movies and stars was thoroughly disappointing.
This article is the reason why I still love this site. Bravo. Lets appreciate the legends rather than mock them or make them goto movie jail simply because studios won't give them a chance. Connery in Thunderball, enough said! I was reading a popular movie mag a few months ago and how they made Simpsons type of jokes on old movies and stars was thoroughly disappointing.
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1:09PM on 09/30/2013
I love him! His turn in Last Crusade is my favorite performance and also one of my favorite movies form my childhood.

However if you HAVE read the Ian Fleming novels, you'll know Timothy Dalton IS and doesn't "play" James Bond. While Sean may have created and left his mark on screen, Timothy Dalton literally was everything the book described and is mostly forgotten...even Daniel Craig gets praised and credited for work that Timothy Dalton did back in 1987.

Those three actors are equally
I love him! His turn in Last Crusade is my favorite performance and also one of my favorite movies form my childhood.

However if you HAVE read the Ian Fleming novels, you'll know Timothy Dalton IS and doesn't "play" James Bond. While Sean may have created and left his mark on screen, Timothy Dalton literally was everything the book described and is mostly forgotten...even Daniel Craig gets praised and credited for work that Timothy Dalton did back in 1987.

Those three actors are equally wonderful as Bond and though Sean was first, there's no need to talk down to the work of the other actors. Even Moore and Brosnan were James Bond...just the Bond their time periods demanded. Lazenby was the only one I felt was stepping in for Sean and wasn't actually making the role his own. Even the line at the beginning, "This never happened to the other guy" was almost an apology... "I'm not Sean Connery"
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1:18PM on 09/30/2013

Your best?

Losers always worry about their best. Winners go home and fuck the Prom Queen!
Losers always worry about their best. Winners go home and fuck the Prom Queen!
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1:41AM on 10/01/2013
love outland nice slow burn of a movie
love outland nice slow burn of a movie
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3:32AM on 10/01/2013
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but do you really think Connery’s best Bond scene is a fist fight? When I think of Sean Connery and James Bond, there is one scene that I always think of first...

Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but do you really think Connery’s best Bond scene is a fist fight? When I think of Sean Connery and James Bond, there is one scene that I always think of first...

Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!
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