Sean Connery: “the gentleman agent with the license to kill”
Written by Ryan Whitfield on March 24, 2021
With the death of Sean Connery, 2020 took away another legend from us. The heartthrob who introduced the world to James Bond, still claims the hearts of millions since the first Bond movie premiered in 1962. Born in Edinburgh, 1930, Connery left school at fourteen years of age to become a milkman. After being discharged from the Royal Navy in 1948 on medical grounds, he worked as a model, bodybuilder and even entered the Mr. Universe 1953 competition. From small TV roles such as Dixon of Dock Green, Connery rose to the towering heights of fame as James Bond 007 in mere nine years!
Connery made Bond a lovable rascal, a venerable hero, a quirky jokester, and a connoisseur of all things. He knew his wine just as well as he knew how to prevent a dirty bomb from detonating. The charming playboy always had time to dally with the ladies, even the henchwomen of the villains. His charisma made every woman in the cinema hall blush and giggle. Giving the license to kill to a gentleman assassin opened a new trope in cinema marked with ruggish handsome killers carrying out savvy assassination while sporting luxurious attires.
The popular myth goes that Connery was an unknown actor plucked from obscurity by Bond producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. He has had only a small number of roles before the Bond franchise rose him to the heights of stardom. These included the 1957 BBC production called Requiem for a Heavyweight, and the 1961 version of Anna Karenina. He also co-starred with Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place in 1958. Despite his well-reputed acting skills, the writer Ian Fleming considered him ‘unrefined’ and called him an ‘overgrown stuntman’. Even the distributor United Artists was against Connery being given the role. However, he certainly proved his worth and paved his name in the adages of Hollywood stardom.
Connery’s Scottish heritage and ways had been a primary cause of concern for Fleming. However, when compared with English Bonds of later films, Connery represented Bond as Fleming had written it: “alien and unEnglish”. Even his early labors as a milkman and coffin polisher had an impact in contributing to the ‘alien’ otherness of James Bond. He kicked off as an international sex symbol and Hollywood star with the premiere of the first Bond movie in 1962: Dr. No. Due to its heralding success, he returned to the screen three more times as 007: 1770’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1971 Diamonds Are Forever, and 1983’s Never Say Never. Even though he won his Oscar for The Untouchables in 1987, it is like James Bond that the world remembered him and will continue to do so.