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James Bond: Sean Connery

The original Bond star

Main image of James Bond: Sean Connery

When fans are asked to name their favourite Bond, the most common answer is Sean Connery. This reflects the indelible style and charisma he brought to the part. Although his working-class background was a long way from the sophisticated world of the secret agent, he was moulded into the character by the first director, Terence Young, and quickly made the part his own.

Connery's first two films, Dr No (d. Young, 1962) and From Russia With Love (d. Young, 1963) are relatively low-key, breaking into outrageous adventure only for occasional set-pieces and the explosive climaxes. Connery's early Bond is a charmer with muscle, as much at home in the casinos as he is in the fights, and his casual attitude to violence and women is true to the original novels. He is a believable figure and this is pivotal to the success of Goldfinger (d. Guy Hamilton, 1964), allowing a perfect balance between comic strip action and sophisticated adventure.

As the budgets and audiences increased, the attempts to remain broadly realistic declined. Connery's Bond becomes increasingly self-mocking and the more lavish the sets, villains and locations become, the less he needs to do to exude his particular brand of 'cool'. He can still put up an impressive fight - the violent brawl on the waterfront in You Only Live Twice (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1967) is one of his best - but he seems most at home sipping a dry martini and turning on the charm.

Even before filming You Only Live Twice, Connery had become heartily sick of the Bond persona and was eager to leave it behind. However, he came back to Eon's Bond films once more in Diamonds Are Forever (d. Hamilton, 1971). The film received mixed reviews but Connery's return to the part was universally welcomed. This take on the character is Bond as Cary Grant might have played him, effortlessly suave and endlessly self-amused.

Connery played Bond once more, in the 'unofficial' production Never Say Never Again (d. Irvin Kershner, 1983. The film is flawed, but his impressively tough performance stands up well beside that of Roger Moore in the same year's Eon film Octopussy (d. John Glen).

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Diamonds Are Forever (1971)Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

James Bond investigates a plan to hold the world to ransom

Thumbnail image of Dr. No (1962)Dr. No (1962)

James Bond goes on a mission to Jamaica, and a legend is born

Thumbnail image of From Russia With Love (1963)From Russia With Love (1963)

James Bond battles Russian dissidents for control of a vital decoding device

Thumbnail image of Goldfinger (1964)Goldfinger (1964)

Sean Connery returns as James Bond in what may be the best of the series

Thumbnail image of Thunderball (1965)Thunderball (1965)

James Bond goes to Miami in search of stolen nuclear bombs

Thumbnail image of You Only Live Twice (1967)You Only Live Twice (1967)

James Bond goes to Japan to investigate the theft of spacecraft

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Legendary British secret agent 007, created by Ian Fleming

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Thumbnail image of Connery, Sean (1930-)Connery, Sean (1930-)