It has often been debated that Sean Connery was the best James Bond. Let’s look at some of the first 007’s greatest moments.
To say the role of James Bond vaulted Sean Connery to superstardom is like saying James Cameron's Avatar made just a little bit of money. As the first person to play Bond in the official James Bond film series, Sean Connery set expectations absurdly high for every actor after him who has ever taken on the role of cinema's most memorable secret agent. Connery played Bond in six official films, with his last being 1971's Diamonds Are Forever, and one unofficial film, 1983's Never Say Never Again, which was essentially a retelling of Thunderball, Connery's fourth official Bond film. Let's take a look at some of Connery's best moments as the legendary secret agent.
The pre-title sequence of Goldfinger sees Bond in Latin America, blowing up a drug lord's facility specializing in heroin-flavored bananas. He plants a bomb, then goes to relax in a club. After the bomb goes off, Bond heads back to his hotel room, where a naked woman waits for him in a bathtub. Unfortunately, the two are not alone. There's a baddie in the room who gets into a fight with Bond, trashing the room in the process. Bond eventually throws the baddie into the bathtub, with a lamp following moments later, electrocuting him. He delivers his post-kill one-liner, grabs his gun and jacket, then leaves the room. The title sequence and Shirley Bassey's iconic title theme song starts seconds later. It's a badass one-liner, especially the way Connery delivers it.
This moment comes after Bond and main Bond Girl Domino have just made love underwater (do not attempt this in real life. It won't end well). The two sit on a beach in the Bahamas where Bond reveals to Domino her brother's military dog tags and states that main villain Largo had him killed and stole two nuclear bombs. He convinces Domino to help him find the bombs, but Domino notices a henchman by the name of Vargas sneaking up on them, with a silenced pistol in his hands. Bond, completely unfazed, grabs a harpoon gun, shoots Vargas, pinning him to a tree and killing him, then delivers the above-mentioned post-mortem one-liner. It's a great moment.
This is easily one of the coldest kills Bond's ever done, and for it to be in the first film of the franchise really underscores that Bond is a ruthless secret agent. Bond has arrived at the house of a secretary who plans to keep him there until Dent can arrive to kill him, but Bond gets the secretary arrested, giving him time to prepare for Dent's arrival. Bond uses pillows to make it seem like he's sleeping. Dent comes in, empties his clip into the pillows, and that's when Bond surprises him. He interrogates Dent, pointing out what made Bond suspicious of him, but Dent manages to pick up his dropped gun… except the clip is empty. Bond's, however, is not. We get a great pre-mortem one-liner with Bond saying "That's a Smith and Wesson and you've had your six." before shooting Dent.
Bond meets Goldfinger for the second time at an English country club, and challenges him to a game of golf, offering a bar of Nazi gold worth 5,000 pounds if Goldfinger wins. Goldfinger will pay the amount in cash if he loses. Goldfinger has a reputation as a cheater and Bond aims, as he says in his words, "have a little fun with Mr. Goldfinger." The fun starts on the last two holes, with the two agreeing to play by the "strict rules of golf." Bond exploits this when Goldfinger loses his original ball (Bond ends up standing on it at one point), but luckily enough, loyal henchman Oddjob sneakily provides him another. However, Bond finds another golf ball and switches them, causing Goldfinger to play the wrong ball. Due to the "strict rules of golf," this causes Goldfinger to lose the match. This won't be the last time Bond trolls a main villain, but it is one of the more entertaining ways he's ever done it.
Very few villains or henchmen have ever gotten the drop on Bond like Red Grant does here… but all of them have squandered golden opportunities to kill James Bond for good. Red Grant has captured Bond in his train compartment onboard the Orient Express and has just explained the whole scheme to our hero. Bond asks for a cigarette as a last request, which Grant agrees to, but opens Bond's special briefcase from Q incorrectly, causing him to get a face full of tear gas. What follows is one of the best fights in the series. It's closed, it's cramped, it's brutal. It's incredible to watch.
The very first time we see Connery as Bond is one of the greatest introductions of any character ever. We see a group of people playing a variant of baccarat at a fancy London club. A wealthy woman loses two hands to a mysterious man, whose face we have not seen. She asks for his name and gets the iconic "Bond, James Bond" response. We see Sean Connery's face for the first time, looking suave beyond all reason as he smokes a cigarette, with the 007 theme playing over it. A perfect introduction to our hero.
This entire scene is a strong contender for the most iconic scene in the history of the franchise. It's the one that features the iconic "Do you expect me to talk?"/ "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!" exchange. Goldfinger has captured Bond at his facilities in Switzerland and strapped MI6's golden boy to a table, with a large industrial laser, headed right for his manhood. This looks like the end for our hero, and Bond's increasingly desperate attempts to get out of it add an extra layer of tension to the scene. It's legitimately one of the few times we see Bond outright terrified.
So how does Bond get out of it? He convinces Goldfinger that if he's killed, then 008 will come after Goldfinger next, and that 008 also knows about "Operation Grand Slam." Goldfinger spares Bond, but what makes it better is Bond was bluffing. At this point in the film, Goldfinger is completely right when he says that it's just a meaningless phrase Bond has overheard. Still, killing an MI6 agent would be a dead giveaway that Goldfinger's up to something shady, so he spares Bond. It's an incredible bluff by Bond and easily one of the most memorable ways he's ever gotten out of danger.
Indi Vercamer is a Seattle-based screenwriter. He is a proud WSU Coug, a Seahawks fan, and an avid supervillain lair enthusiast.