Content Warnings For: racism, sexism, sexual assault as “seduction”, implied violence against women
Sean Connery was in six of twenty three official James Bond films and originated the role. Charming and often brutish, he exemplified Fleming’s superspy and made it hard for any other Bond actor to measure up. Over the past two months, I’ve had a lot of time to get reacquainted with Sean Connery’s Bond. There’ve been movies that I loved and movies that I hated and what better way to get the point across is there than to use a list.
This was super hard because there weren’t any of his movies that I outright hated. Most of his movies were good aside from a few things that pissed me off and so I’ve had one hell of a hard time putting them in order.
So here’s my ranking for Sean Connery’s Bond movies with a focus on the good, the bad, and the moments that made me go “what the heck is going on here”.
6. You Only Live Twice
The Good: The fashion in this film was gorgeous and I loved the mix of mod styles from the 1960s mixed with traditional Japanese clothing. I also liked the interagency cooperation between MI6 and the Japanese secret service (or it’s equivalent) and how they worked together to defeat Blofeld.
The Bad: The racism. Oh the racism. From James Bond’s aside to Ying asking why Chinese girls tasted so different from other girls to the weird commentary from Tiger Tanaka about subservient Japanese women, this movie was rife with the sort of racism that makes your skin crawl.
The WTF-ery: There’s a scene where James Bond is supposedly turned into a Japanese man so that he can go undercover with Kissy Suzuki. It’s laden with giggling Japanese women and weird comments about Japanese men versus American men. Above all, the scene actually expects for viewers (and the native Japanese people in the background) to believe that Sean Connery looks anything but ridiculous in yellowface.
5. From Russia With Love
The Good: The fight scenes in the film were great. I mean… this was not my favorite Bond film at all despite the fact that everyone that talks about Bond films acts like this one was the best. The highest point for me in this film was the fight on the train with potential werewolf Red Grant. That’s actually about it as far as the movie goes.
The Bad: This is one of the worst Sean Connery Bond films for me. I mean… There are uncomfortable issues of racism towards the Roma people throughout and a lot of it is sexualized to an uncomfortable extent. (I mean, there’s no comfortable extent but still –). You get a double dose of racism in the fact that none of the actors playing Roma people at the campsite were actually Roma. Ugh.
The WTF-ery: The fight scene at the campsite was exploitative, stereotypical, and super sexualized. Like it wasn’t even necessary. The only thing that it gave us was a chance to watch the camera linger too long on the bodies of the women playing the Roma girls and then a super gross scene where the camp “chief” gives them away to Bond for what is implied to be a threesome. I felt like I needed three showers just to get clean from that whole set of scenes.
4. Dr. No
The Good: In his first showing as James Bond, Sean Connery is really amazing. He manages to be charming and cruel at the same time. When you watch it (for the first time ever or for the first time in long time)
The Bad: Women do not exactly get a good showing in this movie. Moneypenny is basically the best Honey Ryder is infantilized by the narrative and all of the other women that Bond comes into contact with are poorly portrayed.
The WTF-ery: Holy yellowface, Batman! My biggest issue with this film is that despite the fact that the Eon Production casting people were absolutely capable of casting Asian actors and actresses in background roles, the main speaking roles for Asian characters went to white people in yellowface. It’s mind-boggling because there were actual Asian actors wandering around in the background of the scenes in Jamaica (you know, Jamaica where there is an actual and notable Chinese-Jamaican population that deserves representation) so they could’ve been cast with significant roles.
The Good: I love the iconic nature of this film. I liked that everything about the film was super familiar to me and that I could recite the dialogue and remember characters within a minute. I also enjoyed and adored Pussy Galore. Awkward name aside, she’s such a freaking badass and I’m seriously wishing that we could get more of her character.
The Bad: So much fridging. SO MUCH! The Masterson sisters’ deaths really were a sour spot for me in this movie because it didn’t need to happen. I found myself fixated on the thought of the fictional Masterson parents and what’ll happen when they realized that they lost both of their daughters in like a week. Another thing that was definitely bad: Bond’s seduction techniques are glorified rape. The body language in the scene with Pussy Galore in the barn were actually super close to triggering me because she didn’t want any of that and Bond “seduced” her. I’m still very angry about that part.
The WTF-ery: I think it’s so weird how MI6 is constantly called in on matters that affect the entire world or other countries. Shouldn’t there be a UN taskforce of spies and informants because that would make way more sense to me than James Bond always being in the right place at the right time. How is he not causing an international incident in every single movie?
The Good: The ladies. Oh. The ladies in this movie were killer. I mean, first you have the drop dead gorgeous Luciana Paluzzi playing SPECTER killer Fiona Volpe. I’m still reeling over her character. She’s gorgeous, a literal fox and I have to keep telling myself to watch something else because all I want to do now is watch her scenes all over again. On top of that, we have Claudine Auger as Domino who bring s huge amount of emotional depth to the role and Moneypenny killing it with her quips (even though I really think that I need more of her overall).
The Bad: For once, the relationship I was uncomfortable with wasn’t the one that the Bond girl in the film was having with him. Largo’s relationship with Domino (or at least the crumbs that we got from the movie) was really creepy. One of my forever issues with the Bond franchise is how they pair him with younger and naïve women and the relationship takes on a paternalistic air. But okay at least James Bond isn’t passing any of his lovers off as his niece after tormenting her and killing her brother. 0/10 would not like to see this relationship dynamic repeated in the franchise ever again.
The WTF-ery: In the pre-credits scene, we get Bond taking revenge on a SPECTRE operative that killed one of his colleagues. Not a huge deal all in all except for the WTF aspects to it. First, the operative goes to his own funeral dressed as his own mistress (and I have thoughts on the trope used that I didn’t feel confident expressing when I first did my piece on Thunderball). Then, you have the utterly ridiculous moment where, after Bond tries to escape the operative’s manor, he takes off with a clunky, chunky, 1960s jetpack. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take the movie seriously after that.
1. Diamonds Are Forever
The Good: Okay this is basically an American gangster movie with James Bond in the lead. There are just enough Britishisms to remind you of what you’re watching but at the whole, this is a really American movie. I’m so serious that I think that what really worked for me with this movie was the fact that it didn’t really feel like a James Bond movie while also being the quintessential Bond movie. Weird.
The Bad: I hated the secondary villains. I hated them so much that I was shaking with anger at one point because I was so freaking pissed that they were the villains we’d see the most of. Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint were annoying and boring. I enjoy a good villain and these two definitely weren’t it for me. Maybe if they were the main villains and we weren’t subject to them in the same movie as SPECTRE overlord Blofeld I would’ve liked them a little more. Probably not because their dry and dense delivery so didn’t work for me.
The WTF-ery: This one’s also related to Misters Kidd and Wint. The last scene in the movie before Bond gets to sail off into the sunset with Tiffany Case is a fight scene reminiscent of the Three Stooges. Up against Kidd and Wint for the last time, you’re expecting a semi-serious fight scene. That’s not what you get. One of our baddies gets set on fire from Bond tossing wine on flaming kebabs he was using as a weapon (which is ridiculous because everyone knows that food on fire is the worst thing to serve on a cruise ship) and then the other one gets a bomb tied to his bits and then flung off of the boat. It’s… a really weird scene and I was just like looking at the scene like “This is how we’re going to end the movie??”
So that’s it, Sean Connery’s Bond films ranked in order from my least to most favorite. It’s been a wild ride with Connery and I’m looking forward to seeing him again in a few months when I watch his last entry in the Bond franchise in the non-Eon production film Never Say Never Again.
If you enjoy my posts about James Bond, be sure to check out my Bond Girl series over at The Mary Sue!