Tag Archives: Sean Connery

Farewell, Sean. Remembering Sean Connery (1930-2020)

The sad news came through this afternoon that Sean Connery had died in his sleep last night at his home in the Bahamas. He was 90 years old and had been in ill health for some time. To say I am heartbroken is an understatement. I have grown up with his films and magnificent performances and have been a fan for many years now. He was someone who was always there and could always be relied upon to turn in a good and entertaining performance, even in films which weren’t really that good.

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Sean Connery. Image source IMDb.

My first introduction to Sean came when I watched The Hunt For Red October, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and the Alfred Hitchcock film, Marnie. In all three of these films I was struck most by how he commanded the screen in every scene, even when he wasn’t saying anything or really doing much. I was impressed and wanted to see more. I was next introduced to the Bond series and thereafter was a fan for life.

I love how he never masked his Scottish accent and that it became such a beloved part of his screen presence, and that no matter who he played – Irish policeman, Russian submarine Captain – that accent somehow still sounded right.

I am a huge fan of the James Bond books and film series. His performance as James Bond is brilliant. He gives the character a ruthlessness and edge, something which leaves the viewer in no doubt that he can take care of himself and isn’t someone to be messed with. His charisma and sex appeal helped not only to endear him, but also the character of Bond, to both men and women.

Sean Connery as James Bond. Image sources IMDb.

While there were many other actors considered for the role of Bond – Stanley Baker, Cary Grant, James Mason etc- it’s hard now to imagine anyone other than Sean as the first official screen Bond. Sean was a huge part of the reason why the early Bond films became so successful and such a big deal. So much was riding on Sean’s casting in the role, but from that famous first Bond intro scene in Dr. No, any worries anyone may have had regarding his capability and suitability for the role quickly subsided. A new screen hero and icon had arrived on the scene.

Sean’s story is a classic rags to riches one. He was born Thomas Sean Connery, on the 25th of August, 1930, in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. His mum, Euphemia, worked as a cleaner, while his dad, Joseph, was a lorry driver and factory worker. Sean had a younger brother, Neil, who was born in 1938 and later followed his older brother into the acting profession.

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Sylvia Trench(Eunice Gayson)is introduced to “Bond. James Bond.” Image source IMDb.

The young Sean’s first job was as a milkman. He then joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16. He was discharged at the age of 19 on medical grounds. After returning home he took on several jobs including a laborer, lorry driver and lifeguard. He also got into bodybuilding, and during a bodybuilding competition in 1953, a fellow competitor mentioned auditions were being held in London for the stage production of South Pacific. Sean went and auditioned and was offered a small role as one of the chorus boys. He later moved up to play the role of Cpl Steeves.

During a 1954 party for the show, Sean met Michael Caine for the first time. The pair would become lifelong friends and would later work together in the film The Man Who Would Be King. Sean would also become close friends with Roger Moore, who later succeeded Sean in his most famous screen role.

As the 1950’s rolled on, Sean’s fame grew as he started to get more significant roles in TV and films such as Hell Drivers, Requiem For A Heavyweight, Darby O’Gill And The Little People, and Another Time, Another Place,in which he co-starred alongside one of the biggest stars in the world, Lana Turner.

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Sean with Bond creator Ian Fleming. Image source IMDb.

In 1962, Sean was offered the role of British secret agent, Commander James Bond, in Dr. No. The film was to be the first serious screen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s hit book series. At first Sean was reluctant to sign a deal to play the character in multiple films, but soon changed his mind. Between 1962 and 1983 he played Bond in seven films – six official films for Eon productions, and the seventh and unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again.

Outside of Bond he impressed in such varied films as The Hill, The Offence(featuring one of his best performances as a detective reaching his breaking point), Marnie, The Untouchables(for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar),The Name Of The Rose, Robin And Marion(in which he and Audrey Hepburn deliver poignant performances as the older Robin Hood and Maid Marion),The Hunt For Red October, Highlander, The Rock and bizarre cult classic Zardoz.

Sean in Marnie, Robin And Marion and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Image source IMDb.

One of my favourites from his later screen work is Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, in which he plays Professor Henry Jones, the bookworm dad of Indiana Jones. He was perfect casting playing against type as a mild mannered,studious,eccentric and very gentle man. Henry abhors fighting and has a difficult relationship with his more adventurous son. He and Harrison Ford have a lovely chemistry together and Sean gets to prove he had a gift for comedy as well as drama too.

My heart goes out to Sean’s family and friends. R.I.P, Sean. Thank you for so many great performances and unforgettable characters. While I am heartbroken at the loss of this legend, I take great comfort in the cinematic legacy he has left behind him for us to enjoy. This year has been a tough one already for Bond fans with the deaths announced of Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan, but the loss of Sean makes it even more difficult for fans to bear.

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Marnie (1964)

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This is my second entry for my Hitchcock blogathon. This time I’m writing about Marnie. This is one of Hitch’s later films, and it is one which I think really deserves to be better known and appreciated by audiences today.

Marnie is one of the most controversial films of Hitchcock’s career and the film hasn’t been as well received by audiences as the vast majority of Hitch’s other films were. I think that was because this isn’t really your typical Hitchcock film. Marnie explores problems of the mind, and it’s far from the usual suspense/thriller films audiences had come to expect from Hitch. Plus the relationship between Sean and Tippi’s characters is quite twisted and unusual. 

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Tippi Hedren delivers a powerful performance in the film. Screenshot by me.

This is the second and final Hitchcock film to star Tippi Hedren. She was excellent in The Birds, but I really think she outdoes herself in Marnie.

Tippi lets us see that this woman is truly messed up (both emotionally and psychologically)she really makes you feel and believe that Marnie has some major issues in her life that have left her emotionally scarred. In the scenes where Marnie is scared of something, Tippi looks truly vulnerable, petrified and traumatised.

This is an interesting film as most of the suspense lies in unlocking the secrets hidden within Marnie herself. There are some other suspenseful moments (such as the shoe dropping on the floor when Marnie robs the safe)but it is mainly Marnie’s psychological issues which keep us on the edge of our seats throughout.

This film has become famous for the scene where it is strongly implied that Mark rapes Marnie on their wedding night on board the passenger ship. This sequence caused friction between Hitch and the original scriptwriter Evan Hunter .When Hunter left the project the script was written again, this time around by a woman – Jay Presson Allen, who had no trouble in writing that scene, or indeed in writing it the way Hitch wanted it to be shot. I’ll come back to this sequence later.

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Tippi and Sean. Image source IMDb.

Margaret (known as Marnie) Edgar (Tippi Hedren)is a compulsive thief who is on the run, after robbing her employer of $10,000. Getting another job as a secretary at Rutland’s Publishing Company, Marnie attracts the attention of its widower owner, Mark Rutland (Sean Connery). Unbeknown to Marnie, Mark saw her at the previous company she just robbed and keeps a close eye on her.

Marnie robs Mark’s firm. This time though she is caught by him. Mark blackmails her into marrying him in return for his silence. Marnie agrees and Mark tries to unlock the many mysteries that surround this woman. Marnie hates being touched, is repulsed by the idea of sex, has panic attacks when she sees the colour red, and she freaks out during thunderstorms. Mark slowly begins to uncover the horrific events in Marnie’s past that have caused her to become the woman she is now.

Sean plays a pretty unique character for a Hitchcock film, in that he appears to be pretty much unlikable. At first glance there is an air about him that makes it appear that he is studying Marnie, and at times it looks like he gets a kick out of forcing her to work on her issues. He treats her as a timid animal who he tries to tame. Marnie herself says to him “I’m just something you’ve caught!”

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Sean Connery as Mark. Screenshot by me.

Having said that though, I’ve often wondered if he appears like that to us because we see him solely from Marnie’s point of view? Her perception of him may well be warped by all the issues she has and how she is so wary of men and sees them all as dangerous things to be avoided. Going back and viewing the film with that possibility in mind makes the unfolding story more interesting I think.

It even makes you go back and think again about that  controversial moment between them on the ship, should that sequence actually even be taken at face value? Are we seeing the reality of that moment? Did he rape her? Or are we only seeing Marnie’s warped reaction to him kissing her? It also makes you think that if Mark was a genuinely horrible person, why is he even trying to help Marnie at all with her issues? If he was so bad why would he care about her at all? Towards the end we see that he does care about her and she comes to trust him and values his help.Mark also seems to care more for animals than he does people, and he talks about slowly gaining an animals trust. Throughout the film he uses the same techniques with Marnie, he is patient with her and allows her to come to him over time.

Tippi and Sean are both excellent.  There’s strong support from Diane Baker as Mark’s trouble making sister in law, Lil. She openly flirts with Mark, and it’s obvious she is jealous of Marnie when Mark brings her home.

Louise Latham plays Marnie’s mother. At first she is a typical Hitch mother, cold, distant, seemingly responsible for messing up her child etc. As the film goes on though we see her in a very different light. Louise is excellent particularly in the scenes when the truth about what happened to Marnie is revealed. I do think this character is horrid though because of how she treats her daughter and pushes her away. 

Mariette Hartley plays Susan, a fellow secretary at Rutland’s who befriends Marnie. She is only in a few scenes but steals each one she is in. I love her amusement over her boss constantly forgetting the safe combination.

There’s also a small appearance by Bruce Dern, as a violent sailor who causes problems for Marnie and her mother.

Those watching this and expecting a typical Hitch film will be surprised. This film is quite unlike his others. I think the negative response to this one is a real shame, as the film is very good and has many memorable moments. The performances from the entire cast are also solid throughout.

My favourite scenes are the following. Marnie and Mark playing the word association game. Marnie dropping the shoe. Marnie freaking out over the red ink. Marnie and Lil meeting for the first time over tea. Mark telling Marnie he trained Sophie (a wild animal)to trust him. Marnie trying to get the gun off Mark. The final sequence when we learn all about what happened to Marnie.

What are your thoughts on this film? Please leave your comments below.