Sean Connery – the gold standard against which all other Bonds are measured

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Sean Connery

Ours is an age when we are inundated by the results of “opinion polls” in every sphere of human activity.

Everyday when you open the newspaper or switch on the television you come to know the results of an “opinion poll” in respect of some subject such as the “The Ten greatest actors” or “The Ten most famous Tennis players” or “The Ten most famous painters” and so on, conducted in some part of the world by some organisation. Similarly “The Guinness Book of World Records” carries thousands of “Lists”, or “Records”. However with the advent of computers such information is more freely available, thanks to YouTube and Google. The Hindu, about two decades ago reported the results of an overseas poll conducted by “the BBC” which had concluded that Sir Issac Newton was the “Greatest Briton” of all time, followed by Churchill and Princess Diana. I had expressed my views in an article published subsequently in the Hindu, that Newton’s great achievements in science seem to have influenced the outcome; while in the case of Churchill, it was his leadership qualities during World War II. I had also opined that ranking Diana third had destroyed the credibility of the whole exercise. No doubt her charm, kindness and involvement in charitable causes contributed greatly to make her an icon all over the world. But as had been pointed out by me, that is where the admiration for her has to stop.

Some years ago, all Indians had been delighted to hear the verdict of the ‘BBC’ that Amitabh Bachchan was most popular actor of all time, and that he had even been immortalised in wax in Madame Tussaud’s in London (another news item appeared about a poll result showing Robert de Niro as the greatest actor of all time). I am also a great fan of Amitabh and have seen most of his films. I still watch with interest his show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ on television, which he conducts with style and dignity. But I am afraid that this is where again, our admiration for the man must stop. Period. To get over excited by our own enthusiasm and patriotism and take the result of some isolated poll, conducted under circumstances we are not aware of, as ‘gospel truth’, merely because it suits us would be erroneous.

For all these reasons “opinion polls” and “Lists” of 10 greatest, or “10 most famous” prepared by various organisations, as well as prominent persons in any field are unreliable, misleading and deserve to be ignored. Of course the “opinion polls” conducted by several news agencies predicting results of elections in our country reflect only the political affiliation and wishful thinking of the concerned Newspaper.

According to a survey conducted recently in the U.K. by William Hill Vegas, Craig’s acclaimed 2012 entry, Skyfall, is the best-ever James Bond movie. The survey polled 3,500 local citizens, asking them to name their favourite James Bond films, from best to worst. Skyfall topped the list, attracting 17.5% of the vote, far ahead of second-placed Goldfinger (8.5%) starring the late Sean Connery, with Craig’s final entry, ‘No Time to Die’, rounding out the podium at 7%. Meanwhile, the worst James Bond title, according to the poll, was Connery’s last film as 007, Never Say Never Again, at 0.6%.

I would consider such an assessment as totally incorrect and baseless. The opinion of just 3500 people, cannot take precedence over that of millions of movie goers all over the world who regard Sean Connery as the best James Bond ever. He drew large crowds in all the countries he visited. He is so much adored in Japan that crowds even entered the restroom to catch a glimpse of him. Very often in several other countries he had to hide himself to avoid being seen by adoring fans.

Sean Connery exemplifies “style” debonair looks, suave elegance, and aplomb, as James Bond. In the first scene in the movie Dr. No, Sean Connery enters a swanky Monte Carlo Casino. He makes his presence felt, immediately. He plays a classic casino card game- known as baccarat- with a beautiful girl, Sylvia Trench, who keenly observes him with admiration. He casually smokes a cigarette. Sylvia Trench loses the game and takes out her cheque book. She stares into his eyes and asks “Mr?” so that she can write his name in the cheque. It is then that we hear Sean Connery say the famous words ‘Bond…. James Bond’ with the right pause between “Bond” and “James”. It is considered the most famous self-introduction in movie history. It’s this moment that defines the style and charisma of Sean Connery, the super-spy who eliminates sadistic assassins, destroys international spy organisations with ease, and has a unique technique for seducing the most beautiful girls in the world, all of which have given him a legendary reputation.

Sean Connery defines the excellence of a particular type or brand of cigarette, drink, suit, shirt, tie, revolver and car which we associate only with James Bond.

He smokes a cigarette specifically, made for him by Moreland of Grosvenor Street, London. He likes a dry martini (shaken, not stirred). He wears a Savile Row suit and a Seal island cotton shirt made by Turnbull & Asser of London. His ties are made by Cecil Gee of London. He always carries a Walter PPK revolver (he never misses a target, and makes every bullet count). When he is asked by a girl why he always carries a gun, he answers that it is because he has a slight inferiority complex! He drives an Aston Martin DB car, with built-in special features like ejector seats, concealed weapons etc and carries a briefcase inside which there are several life saving small devices-after all it is the explosion that was caused when Red Grand opened it that enabled Bond to gain an advantage of a few vital seconds to attack Red Grant and kill him. That signature briefcase of James Bond has become famous and popular all over the world with business executives and seasoned travellers. I used to childishly, but pardonably boast that I was perhaps one of the first persons in our country to have seen Dr. No, the first movie of James Bond (the movie had not been released in India but had already been released in Bangkok where I was staying with my parents). Therefore I had also bought the famous Bond Brief case long before it had come India! 

When Sean Connery enters a room the eyes of all the attractive women are on him. When he checks in at a luxury hotel, the receptionist can’t take her eyes off him. At a restaurant, the waitresses brush past him provocatively. And when he enters his hotel room, he looks for clues of someone having entered his room in his absence.– he checks for fingerprints and looks for an almost invisible strand of his own hair he had pasted across the double- door at the entrance, the absence of which indicates intrusion.

Sean Connery’s one-liners with puns (which he himself coins unlike the other actors who played Bond) are witty and clever. In Dr No, Ursula Andres as Honey Rider is collecting shells on the beach. When Sean Connery approaches her, she asks him what he is looking at. Sean answers “just-looking”. She tells him that a man had raped her and that in revenge, she made a poisonous spider bite him. He took a whole week to die. She innocently asks him “did I do wrong” Sean replies “no, but it wouldn’t do to make a habit of it” making his intention clear.

In Thunderball after shooting Vargas with a spear gun, Sean Connery tells Domino “I think he got the point”.

In Goldfinger, he throws a fan into a bathtub and electrocutes a villain. Before leaving he says” shocking, positively shocking !”

In Thunderball again he comes out with two classic one-liners. When Claudine Auger as Domino emerges from the water, Sean Connery says “My dear uncooperative Domino”. Domino replies” How do you know that? How do you know my friends call me Domino?” Sean replies” it’s on the bracelet on your ankle”.

Domino says again” So, what sharp little eyes you’ve got”. He replies “wait till you get to my teeth”.

In Goldfinger, when Sean Connery suddenly wakes up, in a scene he sees a very beautiful girl. With half-opened eyes, he asks “who are you?”. She replies “My name is Pussy Galore”. Bond says “I must be dreaming”.

Sean Connery as stated above is the gold standard against which all other Bonds are judged or measured. And there has never been a Bond as dashing, handsome, and genuine as Sean Connery ‘before’ Dr No or ‘after’ Diamonds are forever’. He is James Bond- all the others are pale imitations. Sean Connery reinforces this image in every Bond movie.

In the movie “From Russia with love”, the fantastic fight with Red Grant in a compartment in the Orient Express, in which Bond strangles him with a watch in the end and the fight with Odd Job in Goldfinger in which he electrocutes Odd Job, are just two examples.

Sean Connery as James Bond flirts with danger constantly as he flirts with pretty women, before seducing them. The element of danger adds spice to either activity.

Sean Connery is the ultimate James Bond- all the others are pale imitations. Sean Connery reinforces this image in every Bond movie. All the 3500 people who voted for Daniel Craig are totally wrong and their verdict carries no weight. In naming Sean Connery’s Goldfinger 9% below Daniel Craig’s Skyfall, and assigning Skyfall a rank much above Goldfinger which millions regard as the best James Bond movie ever made, the result of the poll has lost all credibility, and the scoresheet deserves to be thrown into the dustbin. Sean Connery is the best James Bond and Goldfinger the best James Bond film ever made.

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