Secret Agent Man

Published 10:57 am Wednesday, November 4, 2020

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I don’t know who is going to win the Presidential election today, but this I know. The real James Bond died this past week! The news called him Sean Connery and he was 90 years old, but his real name was James Bond.

Although Goldfinger was the first James Bond movie I saw, it wasn’t the first of that most successful franchise. I could have missed one, but I think I have seen all of the James Bond movies, with all the different actors, but look up James Bond in the dictionary and you will see a picture of Sean Connery.

Here is something interesting about him and the role. We think suave and debonair when we think of Bond, but I read that the producers looked at many actors, like Cary Grant, David Niven, and a host of other actors who, either turned down the part or didn’t make the cut.

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When Sean Connery interviewed with the producers, he came in “scruffy and in unpressed clothes.” He acted as if he didn’t care whether he got the part or not, but the producers chose him anyway. After he was named as the actor who would play the part, the director, Terrence Young, took the 32 year old Scottish actor to his tailor and hairdresser.

Then Young took him around London’s finest restaurants, casinos, and introduced him to the beautiful women of London. On the wide screen no one typified “cool” and confidence like the James Bond we saw in in those early movies. We all wanted to be like Bond!

The author of the Bond books was Ian Fleming and he initially did not like the choice of Connery. He thought him to be just a Scottish stuntman who had physically worked out to build up his muscles, but he didn’t have any class. Fortunately for the Bond franchise, Fleming’s wife saw a sexual charisma that escaped her husband’s eyes.

Scruffy, crude, and classless was about the last thing we thought of James Bond on the big screen. He looked great in a tuxedo and, when he introduced himself, no one could say “Bond, James Bond” like Sean Connery.

He played in seven Bond movies and they were all money-makers, but I was not able to find out something that I wanted to know. Just how much money was he paid for this first role as 007? Daniel Craig, the current James Bond is being paid $25 million for his fifth and final Bond role, but the entire budget for Dr. No, the first film, was only $1 million.

For all his fame in the Bond series, Connery never won any critical acclaim. Academy Awards went to more thoughtful movies and actors. I’m not saying he wasn’t popular with the public as was the Bond movies.

One film critic listed his Top 100 actors of 1965 and there was no mention of Sean Connery, yet his James Bond movies were always in the Top 5 for making money. The critic also didn’t mention John Wayne!

When I think back to my teenage years and the joy that I received from going to the Park Theatre in Pelham, I can still remember the excitement of seeing that first 007 movie. Goldfinger is my favorite James Bond movie and Shirley Bassey blasting out the song “Goldfinger” will never grow old.

The music, the gadgets, the car with the ejector seat (“You’re joking!” 007 says. Q answers, “I never joke.”), the unusual names of the girls, if you know what I mean, and SPECTRE’s interesting nemeses were formulaic and it all started with Secret Agent Man!

I might not know who wins today, but this I know. Sean Connery and James Bond are one and the same!