A movie star can be a powerful presence in our lives, their image and persona literally larger than life as they move across the movie screen, and yet they can also make that vital connection with us. It’s a connection that can last a lifetime.
By the time Sean Connery took up the mantle of portraying James Bond, Ian Fleming’s literary creation was already popular. Connery’s embodiment of Bond immediately imprinted itself on so many peoples’ imaginations. In the process, Connery’s realization of the character played a key part in the evolution of the “event movie” phenomenon that we so readily associate with certain genre movies today. Event movies have always been a staple of cinema but Connery-as-Bond perhaps marked a moment when it became all the more a part of pop culture.
Connery’s career was transformed by Bond and yet he found himself yearning for the opportunities to continue portraying characters far removed from the wish-fulfilment figure of Bond. Connery would go on to craft performances that didn’t only trade on the resolve and toughness that was there in his Bond portrayal but also shaping characters who had their frailties and sensitivities. Amongst other movies, one has only to watch The Molly Maguires and Robin and Marian to see the kind of roles that he could so vividly inhabit. In his Oscar-winning performance as Jimmy Malone in The Untouchables, there amidst the grit and the “Chicago way” wit and wisdom was a paternal quality which shone through again in the Indiana Jones saga.
In the 1980s, screenwriter Richard Maibaum (who had been a co-writer on Dr. No and subsequent Bond films) was asked about Connery’s appeal as Bond, and he said this: “Sean Connery was nothing like Ian Fleming’s conception of James Bond… Sean enabled the ordinary guy and girl to look at the screen and say, ‘That’s me. I could do those things.’”
EXCLUSIVE IMAGES OF CONNERY-AS-BOND: