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Sean Connery Dies at 90

October 31, 2020
Quick sketch of Sean Connery and Michael Caine in “The Man Who Would Be King.” Brush Pen 

I’m a little shaky typing this. I found out that actor Sean Connery passed away today. I’d gone on Instagram to post my photo of a new durum wheat loaf—and I saw my friend Tim’s note on Instagram.

As a child in the 60s I wasn’t allowed to watch the Bond movies until I was older. But spy movies were a staple in our household so I got there soon enough. There is still something crisp and wonderful about his portrayal of Bond, watched decades later.

Other Connery Movies I enjoy rewatching include:  Outland (“High Noon” in space); The Wind and the Lion, The Untouchables, Hunt for Red October, The Rock, The Name of the Rose, and Finding Forrester 

Of course it was fun to watch him pop up in films like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Time Bandits when there was a bit part that needed an actor who came with his own charm and gravitas. It might seem like an emotional cheat to get the audience to care, but it was always satisfying. We need shorthand in the movies, as in life. 

And it seemed obvious that he was cast as Indiana Jones’ father, for similar reasons.

I don’t know what my favorite Connery movie is. I think it’s always the one that I’m watching.

And that puts him in the same category I reserve for Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. All of them actors greatly underestimated because of their “charm.” But watch them closely and you see something marvelous. They are listening, they are the character, they aren’t winking at the camera. They radiate their character’s energy from a solid core. It’s a stillness that shows up on film no matter how frenetic their character.

It’s authenticity. It doesn’t matter if we like a character or not (villain or hero). But for the character to resonate with the audience there must be that authenticity. A great actor can call that up and project it so that it is everywhere when the character is on screen, as if they were that person in life. And that authenticity hangs in our minds whenever we recall the movie.

With an actor like Connery very little set up is needed in a script. His face and his movements are constantly informing the audience in a million little ways about what is happening, what his relationships are, what his choices and decisions are. 

That’s a joy to watch. With Connery you have the added icing of the marvelous voice. I don’t care that he played a Spaniard with a Scottish accent in Highlander. The movie only works when he’s there.

Later I’ll pick a film of his to rewatch.

Whichever film I select I know it won’t be the last time I watch it.

    • Joanne Kalvaitis
    • October 31, 2020
    Reply

    Thanks Roz,

    Sean Connery was himself in films. You couldn’t mistake that, but he made the character he played completely believable no matter who he portrayed.

    1. Reply

      Glad you liked the post.

      I don’t feel that Sean Connery was himself in his films I believe that assumption devalues his ability to act.

      Instead I believe he was able to change his core self to project self into the character in a way that seemed real. And that’s great acting in my mind. And also why he was underrated by many.

      I don’t know any personal things about him so I don’t know how he was in actual life.

      Of course because he was able to make his characters appealing in all circumstances I assume as a real person he could also be quite charming when he wanted to be. (And because I am a fan I of course want to believe that.)

      However years ago one of friends ended up acting with another of my favorite actors. My friend came back with stories of what a complete ass that other actor was. We can’t really ever know how an actor is in real-life, unless we know that actor personally.

      But we can look at the skill with which an actor puts a character before us.

    • Christine
    • November 1, 2020
    Reply

    Yes – I think I’ll pull out The Presidio. Great obituary – thank you for that.

    1. Reply

      “The Presidio” is good, but I have trouble getting past Mark Harmon’s performance, so I’ve watched it least of all. At least in “The Rock” with Cage all unhinged and over acting it sort of makes sense in the relationship between the two characters.And there are so many other great actors like Ed Harris and others in smaller parts.

      I’ll have to take “the Presidio” out and give it another chance.

        • Christine
        • November 1, 2020
        Reply

        I just focus on Sean Connery and Jack Warden. They are so great together.

        1. Reply

          I love Jack Warden!!!!! It’s been so long, I’m glad you reminded me he’s in “The Presideo.” And he’s the perfect lead in to a discussion of Kurt Russell through “Used Cars.” You’ve convinced me. I will rewatch “The Presideo.”

    • Pat Eastman Handler
    • November 1, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your post about Sean Connery I enjoyed reading it. Hope you are well.

    1. Reply

      Pat thanks for stopping by. We are doing well. Having Dick around all the time again is like being back in graduate school. Though I can’t believe that his co-workers can’t hear the TV I’m watching when I am riding the bike on the trainer only a room away!

      I hope you are well and getting the support you need in your work!

    • Georgy
    • November 1, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for this brilliant post. I’m grateful Sean Connery will be remembered for generations . . . because much of his art is on film. he sure lit up my imagination. Like you, I’ll be watching his work for a long time.
    love & love,
    georgy

    1. Reply

      Georgy, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I think for film fans it is great that we can have access to work long after the artist has passed. I don’t know that it will get Connery the generations of fandom he deserves, though.

      For instance Charles Laughton is not generally remembered. And that’s a great shame, as is the fact that James Cagney is chiefly remembered for his gangster roles and NOT for his skill as a hoofer. And speaking of hoofers, does anyone else but a few (excluding people working in film) remember Donald O’Conner in his own right, instead of just a part of the trio in “Singing in the Rain”? And amongst some strident movie fans of a younger generation Debbie Reynolds is chiefly remembered as the actual, real-life mom of Princess Leia.

      We’re still, as art forms go, in the infancy of film. It is still possible for someone interested in film to study it in its entirety, to see the continuity, and the moments of change in both acting and framing/filming style, and technological advances. To see tastes, censorship, and changes in political and social reality get reflected on the screen. And even with film restoration and digitization we have a prolonged viewing time.

      But with all this we don’t know how long someone’s reputation will last. Some of the young engineers (late 20s early 30s) working with Dick do not know who Cary Grant is!!!!!!

      My massage therapist is not the only millennial I know who refuses to watch any film in black and white!

      People have an increasingly short attention span. And just as reading is on the decline, I think with all the time some people spend on social networks there is less time spent on watching film in a reflective and thoughtful way.

      I don’t see this changing in the future, in fact I think it will get worse and the culture of the “next” popular thing will intensify and increase.

      It’s sad to think of it, but Connery’s work will probably be marginalized as the history of film begins to pile up.

      Think of it this way, in the long, long history of painting, how many people do you know talk frequently about or celebrate Jacopo Bassano? (who had a way of capturing the faces of dogs that showed a true love of them, and yeah, was really, really good at depicting sparkly fabrics [which involves a complex understanding and observation of light and value unique across the entire history of painting])? Who even talks (either negatively or positively) about Jacques-Louis David and his paintings outside of the Atelier tradition? And he’s even more recent.

      Because Connery’s work can be lost in the jostle of “new entries” I think it is all the more important for us to celebrate our favorites in real time, and enjoy them in real time.

      And I’m really glad that you’ll be watching along. We can chat. Though be prepared, I often digress into discussions about actors like William Bendix. Or will end a discussion on “Ace in the Hole” by throwing out the idea that Kirk Douglas would have been better than his son in the role of Jack Colton. “Dammit man, the Doobie Brothers broke up!…”

  1. Reply

    Have you seen Medicine Man? One of his lesser known films, it seems, but I still enjoy rewatching it. He was a wonderful Presence in all of his films.

    1. Reply

      Yes, I have. It’s quite fun. He worked well with Lorraine Bracco. It is fun to rewatch. I don’t see it showing up on TV much any more though. So one doesn’t just stumble into rewatching it.

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