Tag Archives: Sean Connery

Sean Connery Still Number 1

 

American television and film have long had a love affair with British actors. As the quality of television writing has improved many film level Englishman have made a name for themselves(some for a second time) appearing on small screens across the pond. Actors like Hugh Laurie have used American tv as a stepping stone to American cinema.

The Q scores organization which considers itself “The recognized industry standard for measuring consumer appeal of personalities, characters, lisenced properties, programs and Brands.” Bi- yearly since the 1990’s, QScores.com has released it’s top British actors according to American consumers.

For the third time since 1998 Sir Sean Connery has come out on top. Despite not having made a film in 10 years, and spending the last 8yrs as a tax exile in the Bahamas the 83 year old Scotsman is number one. Connery endeared himself to the American arriving on the scene at the end of the “golden era” of Hollywood.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Connery’s breakout role as James Bond in 1962’s Dr. No lead to a type casting he would spend 25 years trying to escape (despite returning to the role twice). Connery’s second coming began in the early 1990s playing the aging action star and sage adviser in films like The Untouchables. Sean Connery’s last live action film role as Alan Quartermaine in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was a fitting finale to a fantastic career. Quartermaine is road-weary and tired, ready to pass the torch to the next generation.

“Connery ranks among the top 10 Hollywood actors of all time,” said Henry Shafer of Q Scores. “Awareness of Sean Connery and his appeal was strong across the country and with all ages.”

Sir Anthony Hopkins finished second in this year’s results, followed by Liam Neeson,  David McCallum of  NCIS  and Daniel Day-Lewis. Dame Judi Dench is the highest-placed woman in the list at six, followed by Dame Maggie Smith at seven.

The complete Q scores top 20:

1. Sean Connery
2. Anthony Hopkins
3. Liam Neeson
4. David McCallum
5. Daniel Day-Lewis
6. Judi Dench
7. Maggie Smith
8. Daniel Craig
9. Hugh Laurie
10. James Purefoy
11. Benedict Cumberbatch
12. Robert Carlyle
13. Eamonn Walker
14. Colin Firth
15. Jonny Lee Miller
16. Jane Leeves
17. Kiefer Sutherland
18. Gerard Butler
19. Lucy Punch
20. Daniel Radcliffe

What is your favorite Sean Connery Role? Who do you feel is missing from this list?

 

 

 

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Reboot

Tom Clancy,  who created truckloads of novels filled with political and military fiction–as well as several video games that I know nothing about, died last week.  He left behind a legacy of practically inventing a genre of fiction, or at least reinventing it. Adaptations of his work breathed newSean Connery, Alec Baldwin and Scott Glenn life into movies about espionage and government conspiracies. Like his books, the best and worst of these films often featured Jack Ryan.

Billed as the thinking man’s James Bond: the character of  CIA analyst Jack Ryan, as portrayed by future comedian Alec Baldwin, first appears on screen in the submarine cold war epic The Hunt for Red October. The movie, about a Soviet defector played by Sean Connery (sounding quite Scottish rather than Russian) and his experimental submarine, finds Ryan a great negotiator and reluctant action hero.

Harrison Ford took Jack Ryan to the next level in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games.  Adding his signature scowl, Ford’sford Ryan gets quite a bit more physical while enhancing the cerebral nature of the character.   This work in my opinion is completely undone by future Batman Ben Affleck.

In a reboot of the series, The Sum of All Fears shows Jack Ryan recruited to the CIA by Morgan Freeman. We see Affleck play Ryan as uncertain of himself and out of his element. The origin story, however, doesn’t seem to get off the ground. Preventing a terrorist attack on American soil while trying to understand the world of high stakes espionage and keeping the details from his new wife– it just seems like too much for Affleck to handle… because it is.

This week saw the release of the trailer for a new Jack Ryan reboot. Hot off of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Chris Pine has stepped into yet another role established by someone else. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is more than a reboot, it is a wholly original script pulling little to nothing from the source material. The trailer suggests the departure from any existing Jack Ryan property  and the conversion to full action film. Also it appears Jack Ryan gets younger with every reboot.

 

I will do my best to reserve judgment until I see the film, but it may have been better to let this character die with his creator.

 

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REB007T, or I Promise to Stop Writing About Skyfall

bonds

I just completed my fifth viewing of Skyfall. I have written about it and James Bond movies in general a few times Here, Here, and Here. As a lifelong James Bond fan, I am always excited by the release of a new film in this hallowed series, but Skyfall is something more. The 23rd film represents a turning point in the reboot series. The third film for a James Bond actor has always been the sink or swim moment. Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me, even The World is Not Enough were showcases for the moment when the writers hit a  stride with the actor portraying 007. The stories in these films are written to showcase the unique attributes of each actor.

When it was announced that 2006’s Casino Royale would not only bring us a new Bond in Daniel Craig but also a reboot of the long running series, I had my doubts. Casino Royale and Craig were a pleasure to watch, but I was left wondering “where do we go from here?” The film had such momentum and excitement that it took repeat viewings to realize its flaws. The following film Quantum of Solace suffered none of the same issues; its flaws were right up front. Skyfall with its dark and humanizing storyline is something more. It seeks to re-reinvent not just the character, but the world in which he resides. It is a reboot within the reboot continuity.

This got me thinking about reboots in general. Unless you have made your home deep within a cave for the last 10 years you may be aware of the vast number of rebooted series showing up in our theaters of late. The list of films getting the reboot treatment in the coming year is staggering. Movies based on a prior film either in the form of sequels or reboots is staggering. Based on no particular fact or statistic,reboots account for all 98% of all  movies worth seeing this year.

Turning my thoughts back to the James Bond films, I wondered if Casino Royale was the only reboot. In examining the movies and comparing them to one another, it is evident that many of these 23 films could be considered reboots.

Take On Her Majesties Secret Service as an example. The only film in the series to star Australian actor George Lazenby was arguably the first reboot.

The sixth film was the first without Sean Connery in the role of Ian Fleming’s master spy. It begins as more of an “anti-reboot” showing us all things Bond to ensure we don’t think this is a different character but the same one simply played by a different actor. Various movie props from the previous films are pulled from the desk as a sub theme from Dr. No is played. The credits sequence is simply a martini glass on which are shown key action scenes from previous bond movies, though the producers are careful not show Connery’s face.

This never happened to the other fellow Property of Eon productions

This never happened to the other fellow
Property of Eon productions

Roger Moore’s first outing, Live and Let Die, is a complete 180. Several minor aspects seen in each film are removed. Bond does not go to MI6 headquarters, Q is absent, Bond smokes cigars instead of cigarettes, drinks bourbon instead of martinis. Moore had a gift for comedy far beyond Connery’s one liners. He could deliver a joke with a straight face and react as straight man to anything he observed, and this was written into all of Moore’s scripts going forward.

Reboot number three came after Moore’s 7th and final film A View to a Kill. The film, like many of Moore’s later endeavors, suffers for two things: Moore was so old at the time of filming that his hair had to be thickened every day and the comedy is over the top. Somewhere halfway through Roger Moore’s run as Bond the slapstick got out of control. Enter Timothy Dalton.

Dalton was a Shakespearean actor by trade. His interpretation of the character ran away from the Montypythonesque (that’s a word, right?) to his core–his dark, brooding core. Dalton saw Bond as troubled by the life he has chosen to lead and the sacrifices he has made for queen and country. Dalton also brought the literary version of Bond to the big screen, focusing more on Fleming’s work as apposed to simply doing an impression of his predecessor. Dalton’s films were not critically received, and at the end of his two film run, the series went on hiatus for 6 years.

When Pierce Brosnan took up the mantle for 1995’s Goldeneye, the fourth reboot, he had an advantage. The writers had taken all of the aspects that made a great Bond movie and placed them in a modern world. The audience-pleasing special effects and the return of the gadget-a-minute approach made the Brosnan era visually stimulating. Still, by the time Bond surfed a tsunami and drove an invisible car, it was time for another reboot.

Bringing us back to Casino Royale. Rebooting this long running series over the last 50 years has been more than simply swapping out leading men. Each time James Bond seems to preserve his core while responding to audience demand. With a reboot every six films or so, we have to wonder where they might go next.

Maybe to space?

No, they did that already.

Maybe the bottom of the ocean?

No, they did that… twice.

Where ever James Bond may be headed next, you can bet I will be along for the ride.

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Best of the Best: The Roles of Sean Connery

Sean Connery, star of more than 90 feature films and television programs, has retired from acting. This is not news. It happened almost ten years ago. I miss his work…a lot. From his superstardom of the 60s to the strange sci-fi films of the 80s and his resurgence in the 90s and beyond, Connery, to me, was always awesome. His performance would often outshine the other actors in a movie and often outshine even the movie itself.

With that in mind, I bring to you my top 5 favorite Sean Connery roles.

 

5. Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez – Highlander (1986)

The original Highlander actually made sense. The sequels really muddied the waters, but the original is a pretty good flick. Connery is a Scotsman by birth playing an Egyptian pretending to be a Spaniard. He is immortal, a master swordsman who seeks out other immortals to teach and train them for the final battle known as The Gathering. Connery makes by far the best entrance in film history.

 

 

4. Jim Malone – The Untouchables (1987)

This appearance is by far the best entry in the wise old man/mentor category that marked the twilight of Connery’s career. He teaches a group of accountants to be cops and (spoiler) gets shot up like Sonny Corleone for his trouble. Pity he could not teach Kevin Costner to act, but hey, he is only one man.

 

 

 

 

3. Professor Henry Jones – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

If Indiana Jones had a father, he would be James Bond. However, Connery played the father of our favorite now-Disney-owned adventured much differently than we expected. Though Connery is only 12 years older than Ford, they played father and son flawlessly. My greatest enjoyment comes from watching Connery unsure of how to throw a punch and frightened by guns.

 

 

2. King Arthur – First Knight (1995)

So someone had the bright idea to make a King Arthur movie that removes the magic and mysticism from the story. The focus is placed on a forbidden romance between a vagrant swordsman and the wife of the King. Yeah, it sounds super boring. Wait…what if we cast Sean Connery as King Arthur? Okay, okay I can watch that. This film suffers for a lot of things; casting Connery is not one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

1. James Bond – From Russia With Love (1963)

If you ask someone who their favorite Bond is, and they answer with any name other than Sean Connery, they misunderstood the question. Anyone who reads my work with regularity knows I am a big James Bond fan. It could not have been much of a surprise what was waiting at number one on this list. So why this film over Connery’s other 5 cannon outings as 007? The later films become a tad too gadget driven, and Dr No, this films predecessor,  lays down more back story than character focus. From Russia With Love is the story of a lone warrior trying to prevent WW3 and stay alive in the process. Connery plays the role of everyone’s favorite spy with pure bravado and swagger. A lack of gadget focus gives us the opportunity to see more of Connery’s wit, which is his true contribution to the character.

 

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