“Sean Connery vs James Bond”, on Arte.tv: seven times 007 and a life to make him forget


At the end of the 1960s, he was one of the most famous men in the world. And all his life, it will be difficult for him to go out without being approached by fans who ask him for an autograph, calling him “Mr. Bond”. A reality that Sean Connery (1930-2020) has never supported.

Read also: Sean Connery, James Bond’s first film actor, dies aged 90

During his career, the athletic and attractive Scotsman, promising theater actor, amazing in many films directed by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Lumet, John Huston or John Boorman, will try to distance himself from this character of agent 007. A suit (made to measure) that he wore for the first time in 1962 (James Bond vs. Dr. No) and wore seven times. Not much in a film career as rich and diverse as his (70 films).

Violence on edge

This aspect of Sean Connery’s fight to get rid of the cumbersome Bond label is carefully analyzed in this documentary rich in film excerpts, British television archives, and interviews with the person concerned and relatives who allow us to better understand the complex character of Sean Connery.

Aggressive, jealous sickly, he will fight with varying fortunes to try to channel this violence on edge. Aggressiveness and jealousy which will earn him some problems with women, on film sets as well as in the private sphere, and in particular with actress Diane Cilento, his first wife, from 1962 to 1973.

Money will have been a powerful engine for the man who was born in a disadvantaged district of Edinburgh to a housekeeper mother and a worker father in a rubber factory and who delivered milk at the age of 7 before joining. in the navy and then to earn a painful living by varnishing coffins.

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What would have happened if the gifted and promising young theater actor in The mysterious investigation (1961), a film in which he plays a thief who prowls around like an animal in a cage, elegantly dressed (already!), had not landed the role of James Bond, a character created by Ian Fleming and launched on the screen by franchise producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman? We’ll never know.

Still, the Scot was not ready to be overwhelmed by the success of the spy on Her Majesty’s secret service (a shame for a Scot!). But, the cinema paying more than the theater, Sean Connery will play the most famous secret agent in the world in six films, from 1962 to 1971, before donning the costume of 007 for the last time in the unofficial never ever again, in 1983.

Why this late return in the skin of Bond? Learning that Roger Moore was getting much higher fees than his for the role of Bond, Sean Connery, mad with rage, decided to show who was the strongest. Final result for the release of the two Bonds in 1983: Octopussy with Moore is a hit, never ever again is a failure.

Throughout his long career, Connery will make a point of finding radically different roles with great directors, sometimes without convincing (Zardozof John Boorman, 1974), sometimes happily (The Incorruptibles, by Brian De Palma, 1987, earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1988). But the general public only remembers him as James Bond. Golden roles, like diamonds, are forever…

Sean Connery vs. James Bond, by Gregory Monro (Fr., 2022, 52 min.). Until December 28 on Arte.tv

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