Ranking Sean Connery James Bond movies
5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
When people who haven’t gone back to watch the old Bond movies think of what Connery’s era was like, you only live twice is probably what they imagine: a bald, scarred supervillain with a Persian cat in his lap; a hollowed-out volcano in which evil designs for world domination are born; a climax where the hero leads a team of ninjas in an assault on villains with World War III at stake.
you only live twice is 60s Bondmania at its finest. It’s also where director Lewis Gilbert set the stage for 007 at its most epic, with future adventures about megalomaniacs in ridiculous secret lairs (with ridiculously stunning production designs, courtesy of Ken Adam ) all from this source. That said, we want YOLT had aged better than he plays now. But with its story of Bond “dying” his skin and getting a bowl cut of his hair to look Japanese (it doesn’t) and its exotic portrayal of “the Far East”, especially the Japanese women who are stereotyped as submissive and eager to please a European. man, the film is quite uncomfortable for the modern eye.
Worse still as a Bond movie, it’s also pretty dull until the ninja heyday, largely because that’s where Connery started watching. It’s no secret that his relationship with Bond producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman was tumultuous, and after years of overexposure to screaming fans, Connery was looking for the exit. He would (briefly) step back from the role after this film, but he already looks finished on screen. At least he can feed one of Blofeld’s henchmen in a pond of hungry piranhas. “Enjoy your meal.”
4. Thunderbolt (1965)
After helping Connery establish the suave, yet rugged character of the cinematic James Bond – not to be confused with Fleming’s own literary creation – director Terrence Young returned to the Bond franchise with thunder ball. However, in the time between Young/Connery’s first two Bond movies and this one, the game had changed thanks to Guy Hamilton’s more awkward. The golden finger (1964). Therefore thunder ballfeels a little clunky as it tries to tap into the larger than life and cartoonish aspects of The golden finger while retaining Young’s general susceptibility to cool (and borderline cold-hearted) espionage.
Nevertheless, thunder ball was the heyday of Bondmania. The character was arguably never bigger than that, with the film setting the mood for pop culture instead of responding to it. Connery is also in great shape as 007 at his most cynical. The pleasure on his face as he steals the villain’s daughter from under him, and in plain sight, is almost sinister. And after using the devilish Luciana Paluzzi as a human shield for a silencer’s bullet in a Bahamas nightclub, Connery delivered “Mind if my friend sits this one, she’s just dead”, is so ruthless that you don’t know whether to laugh or shiver.
The chauvinistic gender politics of thunder ball are incredibly problematic, and have enough become the center of most discourse about the more neolithic aspects of the character, but the film is one of the few in Connery’s time where the main ‘Bond Girl’ (Claudine Auger) comes in with eyes wide open as to the kind of relationship Bond is looking for (read :none), and to date, she’s the only female lead who saved Bond in the climax by killing the villain, her abusive lover Largo (Adolfo Celi). To this day, even Craig’s more progressive era still seemed to reverse that.