Untouchables: Sean Connery’s 10 best films

The late movie icon had an indelible screen presence

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (1974)

Surrounded by such heavyweight names as Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins and Vanessa Redgrave, even Connery might have struggled to be noticed as the philandering Colonel Arbuthnot in Sidney Lumet’s star-studded adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s more inspired potboilers. Yet he steals his every scene, towering over this glittering cast with an eye-drawing charisma, a brooding menace and a handlebar moustache verging on the magnificent.

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Best Connery quote: “Are you suggesting that I’m foolish enough to have entered Ratchett’s cabin, murdered him, cleaned my ‘peep’ and dropped it in the ashtray before leaving?”

‘The Rock’ (1996)

You expect loud bangs and crazed plots from director Michael Bay, but you rarely find any decent character work behind the action. Which is why Connery’s role as Mason – the only prisoner ever to have escaped from Alcatraz, now tasked with finding a secretive way back in to stop Ed Harris’ renegade military madman launching a nerve gas attack on San Francisco – alongside Nicolas Cage’s intrepid chemist is amongst his most remarkable performances, bringing depth and import and easily managing to upstage the pyrotechnics.

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Best Connery quote: “I’ve been in jail longer than Nelson Mandela, so maybe you want me to run for president.”

‘Finding Forrester’ (2000)

Many of Connery’s later roles were playing elder mentors and father figures, and among the most heart-warming was his acclaimed turn as William Forrester, the anxiety-riddled reclusive author, inspired by J. D. Salinger, who becomes a creative guide to a promising young writer played by Rob Brown. Finding the heart in the brusque and troubled Forrester was one of the most sensitive and skilful achievements in Connery’s career.

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Best Connery quote: “How about 5000 words on why you’ll stay the fuck out of my home?”


‘From Russia With Love’ (1963)

Having epitomised the enigmatic alpha male spy in his debut Bond outing Dr. No the previous year, the second Bond film refined the formula, marking the franchise’s first reference to real-life Cold War tensions. It was short on gadgetry and allowed Connery to dig into both the rare sensitivities and inevitable brutalities of the part, particularly during his legendary fight scene with Robert Shaw on the Orient Express.

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Best Connery line: [shoots down SPECTRE helicopter] “I’d say one of their aircraft is missing.”

‘The Name Of The Rose’ (1986)

Kind of like Hercule Poirot if he’d been a Franciscan monk in 1327, Connery’s lead part in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s ominous, medieval murder mystery, saw him attempt to solve a series of deaths in a remote abbey populated by suspicious friars and demented hunchbacks. Connery’s was a slow and subtle performance, adding much to the horror-noir mood of the whodunnit.

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Best Connery line: “The only evidence I see of the antichrist here is everyone’s desire to see him at work.”

‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’

By his mid-career, Connery was beginning to see the equity of pure star power – in 1991 he’d be paid a mammoth $250,000 for two days of work and two minutes of screen time making an uncredited cameo in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, which he handed straight to charity. The key role here was as Indiana Jones’ father in the third of Steven Spielberg’s boys-own adventure franchise, wise-cracking through his abundant on-screen chemistry with Harrison Ford and clearly having the time of his life.

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Best Connery quote: [trapped between a room on fire and a roomful of Nazis] “Our situation has not improved.”

‘The Hunt For Red October’ (1990)

Arguably Connery’s most stately performance, his role as Marko Ramius, a Russian nuclear submarine captain who unexpectedly plots a course for the USA, made the film possibly the most tense and successful Tom Clancy adaptation ever filmed. The drama hinges on the question of Ramius’ intensions – is he attacking or defecting? – and Connery walks this tightrope in a masterclass of inscrutability.

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Best Connery quote: “It reminds me of the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin, when the world trembled at the sound of our rockets. Now they will tremble again – at the sound of our silence. The order is: engage the silent drive.”


‘The Man Who Would Be King’ (1975)

Connery and Michael Caine had been close friends since meeting on a South Pacific theatre tour in 1954, and their brotherly camaraderie is what makes John Huston’s rip-roaring screen version of Rudyard Kipling’s adventure of two ex-soldiers on an epic journey to Kafiristan, where Connery is mistaken for a god, such a joy to watch.

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Best Connery quote: “When we’re done with you, you’ll be able to stand up and slaughter your enemies like civilised men.”

‘The Untouchables’ (1987)

Playing Jimmy Malone, an Irish-American cop joining forces with Kevin Costner’s Eliot Ness to help bring down Robert De Niro’s Al Capone in Brian De Palma’s mafia epic, Connery stole one of the most difficult shows imaginable, scooping the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The touchstone upon which Connery’s reputation as a post-Bond screen great was truly laid.

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Best Connery quote: “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way.”

‘Goldfinger’ (1964)

The quintessential Bond. From Oddjob’s deadly bowler hat to the Aston Martin you should think twice before putting in reverse, from Gert Frobe’s titular supervillain to his gold-smothered victims, everything delicious about the Bond world cohered in this third film. And Connery navigated the madness with smouldering panache even when, in one of popular cinema’s most iconic scenes, he had a deadly laser beam inching towards his most secretive gadget.

Stream it here: Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

Best Connery line: “A Martini. Shaken, not stirred.”