Sean Connery's James Bond Films Ranked

Published on 8 May 2024 at 15:11

James Bond is the ultimate super spy. Introduced by author Ian Fleming, Agent 007 has been the focus of 25 canonical Bond films as well as three other outings not connected to canon. The first canon appearance featured Scottish actor Sean Connery taking on the role in 1962’s Dr. No. He would appear in six canonical films and a seventh non-canonical appearance. Let’s rank Sean Connery’s appearances as Agent 007.

7. Thunderball

Coming off Connery’s most well-known performance, he followed it up with one of the most disappointing films in the entire franchise. Thunderball has all the markings of a potentially great film but underdelivers every step of the way. Connery’s performance feels blasé. The villains all have a chance to be great but aren’t. There was a fight between the director and the studio for this film. The studio won but the audience lost.

6. Never Say Never Again

This film is Thunderball, again. Years after the controversy surrounding Connery’s fourth outing, he reunited with the film’s director to make the director’s version of the film. MGM had no say in this film and it is considered the final non-canonical Bond film. The director had a better vision for the film than the studio, but it still wasn’t good. Plus, by 1983, Sean Connery felt very out of place playing the womanizing superspy. This would’ve been better left alone, but it was still less bad than Thunderball.

5. Diamonds Are Forever

Sean Connery left the franchise after five outings, but one film without him was enough for MGM to try to coax him back. Connery returned for one final canonical appearance in Diamonds Are Forever. This film paved the way for some of the campier performances in the series, especially during the Roger Moore era. While campy worked for Moore, it didn’t for Connery who was more suave and debonair. This film was a disappointment.

4. Dr. No

Sean Connery’s first outing as James Bond has fluctuated in my rankings over the years. I didn’t see it first, so by the time I watched this 007 film, it felt very mediocre compared to some that followed. In contrast, when I watch the series in order, it’s a very good first outing for the character. Still, Connery fully embodies the character immediately. His ally, Felix Leiter, is played very well here. Jack Lord served as the second or third best actor to play Felix, in my opinion. The villain is a little weak, but it sets up the bigger bad of the evil organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

3. You Only Live Twice

More than any other James Bond film, this one is a product of its time. You can’t make a film about a white superspy going undercover as an Asian man today, and you shouldn’t be able to do it today. It was a terrible precedent. Any fan of this film must compartmentalize that aspect of it to truly enjoy it. Still, the plot of Bond actually going undercover as spy and succeeding, for the most part, is what James Bond should be. Too many later entries got away from Bond being a spy and more him being a government operative. If remade where he went undercover as someone who isn’t explicitly Asian would make a great film. The plot is good; other choices were not.

2. From Russia With Love

This was the second canonical James Bond film and the last before the superspy became a cultural phenomenon. Bond is still less superhuman and more superspy here. Where Connery already embodied the role in Dr. No, he took it to a new level here. The villains were better, although there are still questions about who is the primary villain in this film. Plus, it allowed the story to go somewhere other than an island paradise. It’s one of the best second outings of any actor to play Bond.

1. Goldfinger

Was there ever any doubt? It’s the film that made James Bond a cultural phenomenon. Connery is at his best in this film. It has one of the best one-off Bond villains. It has some of the best Bond girls. It has one of the best Bond themes. It is the film that makes everyone think of Bond. He’s part superspy, part superhuman at times. There are a couple of scenes that haven’t aged well and a modern audience will need to compartmentalize. But this is quintessential 007.

Those are my picks. How would you rank Sean Connery’s appearances as James Bond?

Article Written By: Jeremy Brown for Stelmach Brown Media 2024

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