Tag Archives: Sean Connery

The Set of 400: #71 – My Favorite Misattributed Charlemagne

Today! Because we are on the verge of completing a quest that began almost two thousand years ago –

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x7)

Starring Harrison Ford (x5), Sean Connery (x7), John Rhys-Davies (x3), Denholm Elliott (x2), Alison Doody, Julian Glover, Michael Byrne, River Phoenix (x2), Robert Eddison, Richard Young

In putting this list together in the summer of 2018, I needed to rewatch 60 or 70 films, mainly as it had been a while since I’d seen, say, Switch and The Dream Team. I remembered liking them, but how much did I still like them? And some movies straight missed out due to this rewatching – Lost Horizon, The Secret of NIMH, and Falling Down are not what 12-year-old Joe would’ve had me believe! One thing I didn’t think I would need to rewatch was Last Crusade, as I’d seen this movie a billion times, even if it had been a few years. But I just happened to catch it on TV around this time, and was surprised to find that (as of fall 2017) one of my top 20 films struck me quite differently than expected.

Now, I’d not seen Temple of Doom in a while either, and ended up watching them back-to-back. That may have hurt Last Crusade? Not because Temple of Doom is way better – I genuinely believe it is not – but that Last Crusade feels shockingly tired when viewed immediately after the Raiders’ prequel. It’s still largely what you remember – fun action pieces and terrifically funny scenes between Indy and his dad – but there’s also a lot of lame dialogue and pointless interluding that feel unnecessarily thrown in. I liked the River Phoenix flashback opener, but it feels gimmicky. And Indy meets Hitler?! Come on, have you always been okay with that choice?

“Nuking the Fridge” became a phrase, but it clearly should’ve been “Getting Hitler’s Autograph”

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The Set of 400: #78 – My Favorite Fort Knox Dust Up

Today! Because all my life I’ve been in love with its color, its brilliance, its divine heaviness –

Goldfinger (1964)

Directed by Guy Hamilton

Starring Sean Connery (x6), Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton, Harold Sakata, Bernard Lee (x4), Tania Mallet, Lois Maxwell (x4), Cec Linder (x2), Martin Benson, Desmond Llewelyn (x2), Burt Kwouk (x2), Bill Nagy

The greatest of the early Bond pictures (get out of here, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service fans!) featuring the most iconic death (poor Jill Masterson!), the most iconic henchman (film MVP Harold Sakata’s Oddjob!), and most sexist character name in the history of literature, cinema, and all yet to be created mediums. Like, if there was a porn version of Goldfinger (and there probably is, right?), they couldn’t come up with something worse than Pussy Galore (crack work, Ian Fleming). As terrific as From Russia With Love was, this would quickly become the 007 adventure against which all others would be judged, and all others would be deemed lacking for a very long time, if this has ever indeed stopped.

But, none have featured a death quite like Jill’s

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The Set of 400: #138 – My Favorite Exploding Briefcase

Today! Because I get a kick out of watching you, the great James Bond, find out what a bloody fool he’s been making of himself –

From Russia with Love (1963)

Directed by Terence Young (x3)

Starring Sean Connery (x5), Daniela Bianchi, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya, Pedro Armendariz, Bernard Lee (x2), Eunice Gayson (x2), Lois Maxwell (x3), Vladek Sheybal, Desmond Llewelyn, Anthony Dawson (x2)

It’s not something I realized before I put together this list, but apparently as my tastes are concerned, the entire James Bond series boils down to the first couple movies, a huge gap of the same thing over and over again, and then the last couple movies. Considering how long this franchise has been in existence this is a little strange, I know, but I’m a Connery/Craig guy. Some of the intervening adventures are solid – it’s not like they just straight lost their way for forty years – but my favorites are bookending the enterprise.

This second Bond film is far more indicative of what was to come than Dr. No the year before. While that was largely set in Jamaica, it felt like it could’ve been in any beachy locale. Plus, you’ve got Bond running around barefoot most of the time, and while Dr. No is a SPECTRE agent, you don’t get the impression any of this is part of a larger scheme, for the most part. No, From Russia with Love is when Bond becomes Bond – set almost entirely in exotic, 1960’s Istanbul and on the Orient Express, you’ve got SPECTRE and SMERSH agents causing havoc for a well-tailored 007, we get our first faceless Blofeld, we get our first Desmond Llewelyn Q (even if he’s still named as Boothroyd in FRwL), you’ve got terrific, tough supporting villains in Robert Shaw’s Grant and Lotte Lenya’s Rosa Klebb, you’ve got a weird gypsy v. gypsy girl fight for some reason, and you’ve got a slam bang boat chase explosion finish worthy of a Bond movie.

Cubby Broccoli, that looks expensive!

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The Set of 400: #153 – My Favorite Robot Dragon

Today! Because that’s a Smith & Wesson and you’ve had your six –

Dr. No (1962)

Directed by Terence Young (x2)

Starring Sean Connery (x4), Ursula Andress (x2), Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson, Eunice Gayson, John Kitzmiller, Zena Marshall, Lois Maxwell (x2), Peter Burton

For years growing up, we had a VHS copy of the first filmed James Bond adventure, and I was not impressed. It was so hokey and stagey, and that Bond! Wooden! Uncharismatic! That villain! All snide remarks but with no threat behind them whatsoever! This was a load of junk! I’m not even sure where we got it, or why they’d release it on video, because the less seen the lousy made-for-TV Casino Royale from 1954 starring Barry Nelson and Peter Lorre, the better!

Dullsville!

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The Set of 400: #293 – My Favorite Human Catapult

Today! Because it’s dull, you twit! It’ll hurt more!

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Directed by Kevin Reynolds

Starring Kevin Costner (x3), Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater, Brian Blessed (x2), Sean Connery (x3), Geraldine McEwan, Micheal McShane, Michael Wincott, Nick Brimble

I’m under the assumption this movie is the reason we’re treated to new, shitty Robin Hood remakes every few years. This is the blueprint – and this is based largely in tone on the original, rollicking rich-robbing good time The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. Sure, it’s updated some, featuring a solid if unremarkable Costner performance (so, a standard Costner performance) balanced by a good Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Marian, a solid Morgan Freeman as the Moor Azeem, and a fantastic, movie-stealing villain turn by Alan Rickman. I saw Robin Hood way more times growing up than I did Die Hard, so for me, Rickman will always be the Sheriff of Nottingham first, Hans Gruber second, Severus Snape like ninth.

Never mind Rickman’s fabulous coiffure

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The Set of 400: #354 – My Favorite Matchbook Clue

Today! Because a man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. What are mine? Baseball!

The Untouchables (1987)

Directed by Brian De Palma (x2)

Starring Kevin Costner (x2), Sean Connery (x2), Robert De Niro (x2), Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith, Jack Kehoe, Billy Drago, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Bradford, Brad Sullivan, Chelcie Ross, Clifton James, Del Close, Don Harvey

Brian De Palma’s second TV show adaptation to make the list, The Untouchables is in many ways the quintessential Chicago film. I mean, for all the basic improvement made here over the last hundred years, the two things you still hear most when the town comes up are the Great Fire and Al Capone. And while In Old Chicago is an okay bit of old Hollywood hokum about Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, it’s not in common cinematic parlance. Al Capone, however, has a new biopic or pops up in some TV show every year or two, right? When we were in London last year, and some waiter asked where we were from, the first thing he mentioned in response? Al Capone. Who has been dead for 70 years.

Chicago icon!

And not to continue too far down this path, but Chicago doesn’t even actively try to embrace the gangster past here. Sure, there’s a cheesy Untouchables Gangster Bus Tour, but no museums, no Al Capone key chains at any of the more official city gift shops. And yet, it hangs on. People like gangster movies, that’s the only explanation. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #374 – My Favorite Snowbound Train

Today! Because a repulsive murderer has himself been repulsively, and, perhaps deservedly, murdered –

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave (x2), Martin Balsam, John Gielgud, Michael York, Wendy Hiller, Richard Widmark, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Rachel Roberts, Colin Blakely, George Coulouris

Sidney Lumet’s all-star take on the Agatha Christie classic is still the definitive big screen take on her work. Most Christie novels are a little too uncinematic to make for really great movies, and thus there have been far more and better TV versions of her stories than films (the Branagh Orient Express from 2017 is also pretty good, so hopes are high for Death on the Nile). But this one has everything – all the stars as in the heavens turned out for this film, a terrific locked-in train set that heightens the tension and suspense one scene after the other, a script where basically every line is vital to fully telling the tale, and Finney’s masterful work as Poirot tying the whole thing together. Widmark allegedly signed on in the relatively brief role as the doomed villain Ratchett (The book’s been out for 80 years! No complaining!) just so he could meet the other stars of the picture. Ingrid Bergman won her third Oscar for essentially one scene of significant dialogue! Sean Connery’s epic mustache nearly trumps Poirot’s! Continue reading

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