In Memoriam: Sean Connery’s Greatest Movies
In 1962, Sean Connery sat down at a poker table, lit up a cigarette, and made history—“Bond, James Bond.” Since his debut as the British spy in Dr No., Connery has become Hollywood’s definitive man’s man; James Bond as we know him today would not exist without Connery’s indelible performance. Unfortunately, the Scottish actor passed away Saturday at the age of 90, leaving behind a prolific number of films. While he is best known for originating the role of Bond, he commanded the screen for nearly 60 years in several distinguished roles. Here’s a look back at some of Connery’s most memorable movies, celebrating the man who drove an Aston Martin off into the proverbial sunset.
Cover Photo: United Artists/Paramount Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures
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'The First Great Train Robbery' (1978)
In Michael Crichton’s adaptation of his novel, Connery and Donald Sutherland out George Clooney and Brad Pitt before the Oceans movies were even a thing. This Victorian-era caper follows the pair as they attempt to rob a moving train. Throw in a complex plan, thousands of dollars' worth of gold, mutton chops, a love interest, and you have a whole lot of fun.
'Time Bandits' (1981)
Connery plays a lovable King Agamemnon of Ancient Greece in Terry Gilliam’s fantasy about a boy who travels through time with a band of thieves thanks to a portal in his wardrobe.
Russell Mulcahy’s cult classic is elevated by Connery’s performance as Ramirez, the immortal who trains Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert) in the ways of beheading.
Based on Winston Graham’s novel of the same name, Marnie is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best (and most overlooked thrillers). In it, Connery plays Mark Rutland, who marries the “troubled” Marnie (Tippi Hedren), trying to either take care of/control her. The duality of Connery’s performance makes it hard for the audience to know whether or not they like or are repulsed by his character.
'Murder on the Orient Express' (1974)
The first adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express, sees Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) investigate a murder on the eponymous train. Connery joins an all-star cast as Col. Arbuthnot in this watershed whodunit.
'From Russia with Love' (1963)
Connery’s second outing as 007 is one of his best. In From Russia With Love, he brings the nit and grit as the character (as opposed to the cheesy glib) long before Daniel Craig even had an audition.
'The Hill' (1965)
In this adaptation of Ray Rigby’s play, The Hill, Connery branches outside his comfort zone and plays Sergeant Major Roberts who’s sent to a brutal detention camp in the Libyan desert after being convicted (wrongly?) for the assault of an officer. For many, Connery’s performance in The Hill is his best of the 1960s.
'The Rock' (1996)
All those theories about how Connery’s character is James Bond in disguise is only one of the reasons The Rock is so entertaining. Following Nicolas Cage’s Stanley Godspeed who is sent on an urgent mission with British spy, “John Patrick Mason” (Connery) to stop a general from launching chemical weapons on Alcatraz Island is one of Michael Bay’s best movies.
'The Hunt for Red October' (1990)
In the best big-screen Jack Ryan adaptation, Connery plays a Russian submarine captain who goes head-to-head with Alec Baldwin’s Ryan. Shaky Russian accent aside, Connery’s performance anchors the film with just enough tension to think that he might nuke the Eastern shore.
'The Name of the Rose' (1986)
We all know that monks make great detectives. This adaptation of Emberto Eco’s novel follows Connery as a 14th-century Franciscan friar, with Christian Slater as his young assistant, investigating murders that take place throughout an abbey.
'The Man Who Would Be King' (1975)
Connery and Michael Caine team up in this adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s short story following two English military officers who, tired of their lives as soldiers, take over the distant province of Kafiristan.
Connery’s third outing as Her Majesty’s suave spy established a lot for the series; from beautiful locales and corny villains to a pimped out Aston Martin DB5, this is the most iconic Bond film ever made.
'The Untouchables' (1987)
In his Oscar-winning performance, Connery plays Jim Malone, an Irish-American police officer who helps Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) assemble a team to take down Prohibition-era Al Capone.
'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' (1989)
Playing off of his Bond persona, Steven Spielberg cast Connery as Indiana Jones’ father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In what is arguably the best Indiana Jones film to date, thanks in large part to the banter between Connery and Harrison Ford, Connery brings much more to the table than even Spielberg probably expected.
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