best film:  This category is lacking that big monolith for the great Sean Connery. But still, The Hill from Sidney Lumet in 1965 is skillfully shot, features a great set piece (the title of the film) and is immaculately written and acted (specifically, by Connery). Alfred Hitchcock’s entry Marnie (1964 – same year as Goldfinger) and Hitchcock’s acolyte Brian De Palma’s entry The Untouchables (1987) are probably the silver and bronze.


best performance:  Sean Connery is among the best actors in cinema in the years 1964, 1975 and 1987 as well – but it is The Hill (from 1965) that stands atop the rest. It is a perfect anti-hero story worthy of the best of Humphrey Bogart, William Holden or Paul Newman.  Connery is intelligent and resilient and, like the film, unflinchingly intense. If all someone knows of Sean Connery is the James Bond series and maybe Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – this is exhibit A of what you need to see in regards to appreciating Sean Connery as an actor.


Connery as Joe Hill here opposite Harry Andrews in Sidney Lumet’s 1965 film The Hill. This is Connery at thirty-five (35) years old, a massive star after the James Bond films (this made in the middle of that initial run), with something to prove as far as acting chops is concerned.


stylistic innovations/traits:  Sean Connery was a Scottish actor born in 1930 with twenty-two (22) archiveable films spanning from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Sean Connery is often cited as the best James Bond and probably rightly so (though Daniel Craig has earned a seat next to Connery at the table) with those second (From Russia with Love) and third (Goldfinger) entries regarded as the pinnacle of the series.  In a few James Bond films Connery is merely sufficient (Never Say Never, You Only Live Twice) and he lacks some confidence in the first one (Dr. No) – but he is primed for those two in 1963 and 1964. This is Connery at the top of his game with The Hill and Marnie also coming during the mid-1960s. John Huston’s The Man Who Would be King in 1975 was his best work in some time at that point in his career – and then a few years before Anthony Hopkins had a late age resurgence in the early 1990s after Silence of the Lambs, Connery had one in the late 1980s and early 1990s starting with The Untouchables (his sole Oscar nomination – and a win for it). Connery is charming as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – which is a fitting homage given how much Steven Spielberg used Bond as a blueprint for his Indiana Jones character and films. Overall, Connery may be more regarded by cinephiles as a star than a great actor – he was tall and handsome and the Bond films were enormous financial successes – so perhaps that all played into his reputation as a talent being a bit overlooked.


Connery in the third (3rd) James Bond entry – 1964’s Goldfinger. Connery played Bond seven (7) times, six (6) of them landing in the archives.


directors worked with: Terence Young (3), Sidney Lumet (2), Alfred Hitchcock (1), John Huston (1), Terry Gilliam (1), Brian De Palma (1), Steven Spielberg (1), John McTiernan (1). There are just far too many Guy Hamilton, Richard Lester, and Lewis Gilberts here.


The Untouchables (1987) is an important film for Connery for a few reasons. One, since Connery does not have that towering Lawrence of Arabia film and performance – he needs that cluster of films at the top (both for the film and performance) to help his cause – and The Untouchables is certainly part of that group at the top. The film also sparked a run of four strong films (The Untouchables, Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The Russian House) in the late 1980s and early 1990s – a sort of comeback for Connery.


top five performances:

  1. The Hill
  2. Goldfinger
  3. The Untouchables
  4. The Man Who Would Be King
  5. From Russia with Love


Connery here with Michael Caine in John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King (1975). Connery’s destiny speech is some of his finest work. This is an easy watch two-hander featuring two gods of screen acting in Connery and Caine. This is Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole in Becket (1964) or even Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).


archiveable films

1957- Hell Drivers
1959- Darby O’Gill and the Little People
1962- Dr. No
1962- The Longest Day
1963- From Russia with Love
1964- Goldfinger
1964- Marnie
1965- The Hill
1965- Thunderball
1967- You Only Live Twice
1974- Murder on the Orient Express
1975- The Man Who Would Be King
1975- The Wind and the Lion
1976- Robin and Marion
1977- A Bridge Too Far
1978- The Great Train Robbery
1981- Time Bandits
1983- Never Say Never Again
1987- The Untouchables
1989- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
1990- The Hunt for Red October
1990- The Russia House