With 'No Time To Die' fast approaching cinemas, we're looking back over the six actors who played Bond - Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and George Lazenby - and making cases for and against them, as well as their best and worst movies.
There's a lot to be said for going first. Sean Connery knows this.
Although there had been a couple of iterations - a failed American TV pilot, that one with David Niven and Woody Allen, a radio play - Sean Connery's portrayal of James Bond has come to define what we consider the character to be because he set the benchmark. He's suave and knows how to wear a tuxedo. He is ruthless and not above using any and all tactics at his disposal. He's a complete shit with women. He has no problem killing anyone who gets in his way.
If you've read any of Ian Fleming's novels, you can see how much is stripped away in order to make Bond more palatable for audiences, especially in the '60s when Connery was on the prowl. Where the literary Bond was much drier and nowhere near as salacious, the only thing dry about Connery's Bond was his post-murder remarks or the Martinis he downed in exotic locales. Indeed, Fleming described Bond as something resembling crooner Hoagy Carmichael, whereas Connery looked nothing like him.
Yet, when you watch Connery confidently stride out of the casino in 'Dr. No' or when he calmly strips out of a wetsuit and into a perfect white tuxedo, the screen presence is undeniable. There's a level of effortlessness to it that none of the other Bonds had. Sure, they've all been suave and sophisticated, but Connery's physicality was something else. As Dana Broccoli, wife of Bond producer Cubby Broccoli famously remarked as Connery left the audition for 'Dr. No', "he moves like a panther." That was James Bond of 'From Russia With Love' and 'Goldfinger' to a tee. Slick, yes, but with a viciousness lying just underneath the surface.
When you look at any of his fight scenes, Connery's Bond fights dirty almost every time. He's not even above buying his way out of one. In 'From Russia With Love', rather than tangling with Red Grant - played with aplomb by the late, great Robert Shaw - he offers him the gold sovereigns hidden in his briefcase by Q in exchange for his life, such as the threat that Red Grant poses to him. In 'You Only Live Twice', he uses both a couch and a statue in defeating a henchman - played by none other than Peter Maivia, the grandfather of Dwayne Johnson.
It's almost redundant to mention how painfully outdated Sean Connery's Bond is when it comes to, well, everything. Whether it's casually assaulting women who don't give him the answers he wants, or some of the brazenly homophobic characters that have occupied his world, Connery's Bond is insanely problematic by today's standards and social norms. 'Goldfinger' and 'Thunderball' both feature instances where he forces himself on women, while 'From Russia With Love' sees him physically strike Tatina Romanova. 'Diamonds Are Forever' had two blatantly homophobic henchmen, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, while 'You Only Live Twice' had a weird moment where Bond adopted yellowface (yes, really) to blend in with the Japanese Secret Service.
On top of this, you also have to examine the success rate of Connery's Bonds movies. 'Dr. No', 'Goldfinger', and 'From Russia With Love' are considered classics and rightfully so, yet 'You Only Live Twice', 'Thunderball', and 'Diamonds Are Forever' are unintentional camp classics, or just downright laughable. 'Diamonds Are Forever' has Bond meet an American woman named Plenty O'Toole. The less said about the painfully strange 'Never Say Never Again', the better.
So, over to you, where does Bond rank in your own estimation? Is Sean Connery's Bond licenced to kill or does he get fed to the piranhas? Vote in our poll below!