Sean Connery movies: 20 greatest films ranked worst to best


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Directed by Sidney Lumet. Screenplay by Frank Pierson, based on the novel by Lawrence Sanders. Starring Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam, Alan King.


Connery reunited with frequent collaborator Sidney Lumet for this entertaining thriller about an ex-con looking to pull off an elaborate heist with the help of the mob. There’s just one problem: every move he and his team makes is being monitored by the law with state-of-the-art surveillance devices. At just 95 minutes, “The Anderson Tapes” is brisk, lively fun that gains a lot of mileage from Connery’s natural charm and charisma.


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Directed by Fred Schepisi. Screenplay by Tom Stoppard, based on the novel by John le Carre. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Roy Scheider, James Fox, John Mahoney, Klaus Maria Brandauer.

The novels of John le Carre have produced movies both riveting and dull. “The Russia House” falls somewhere in-between, a respectable, well-made adaptation that never really catches fire. Connery plays Barley, a British publisher who becomes entangled in espionage when a manuscript from a mysterious Russian woman (Golden Globe nominee Michelle Pfeiffer) lands in his lap. Tom Stoppard’s screenplay gives the actors some juicy dialogue to chew on, and director Fred Schepisi keeps most of his focus on the performances.


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18. THE OFFENCE (1973)

Directed by Sidney Lumet. Written by John Hopkins, based on his play. Starring Trevor Howard, Vivien Merchant, Ian Bannan.

As James Bond, Connery played a charming secret agent who wasn’t above fighting dirty to get what he wanted. In “The Offence,” director Sidney Lumet explores the deep, dark wounds lurking underneath the Bond persona. Connery stars as Detective Sergeant Johnson, a burned-out British officer who snaps when interrogating an accused child molester, beating the man to death. The film explores the underlying reasons for Johnson’s outburst, eventually revealing his own victimhood at the hands of a predator. Though it often feels limited by its stage roots, “The Offence” nevertheless contains one of Connery’s best performances.


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17. THE LONGEST DAY (1962)

Directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki. Screenplay by Cornelius Ryan, based on his book. Starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Eddie Albert, Curd Jurgens, Richard Todd, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Rod Steiger, Irina Demick, Gert Frobe, Edmond O’Brien, Kenneth More.

Connery is one of many A-list celebrities crammed into this WWII epic. The film recounts the harrowing events of D-Day, told from the point-of-view of both the Allied and German soldiers. Connery plays Pvt. Flanagan, member of the 3rd Infantry Division in the British army. Shot docudrama style in black-and-white and recreating the events on a massive scale, “The Longest Day” set a high water mark for war epics to come. The film received a Best Picture Oscar nomination and won prizes for its cinematography and special effects.


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Directed by Martin Ritt. Written by Walter Bernstein. Starring Richard Harris, Samantha Eggar, Frank Finlay.

In “The Molly Maguires,” Connery plays an Irish immigrant working as a coal miner in Pennsylvania in 1876. Tired of the brutal treatment by their superiors, he leads his fellow miners in retaliation. The company hires a local detective (Richard Harris) to infiltrate their ranks, causing some added friction. Directed by Martin Ritt, “The Molly Maguires” has a gritty naturalism that makes for a somber, downbeat night at the movies. Though it was dismissed in its day, it’s still notable for showing a new side to the usually suave, debonair Connery.


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15. MARNIE (1964)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay by Jay Presson Allen, based on the novel by Winston Graham. Starring Tippi Hedren, Diane Baker, Martin Gabel.

When it was first released in 1964, “Marnie” was largely dismissed by critics as a melodramatic mess, a rare misstep from Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock. And indeed, this romantic drama about a wealthy widower (Connery) who marries a psychologically-damaged former thief (Tippi Hedren) is imperfect at best. Yet the chemistry between Connery and Hendren is undeniably steaming, aided by Bernard Herrmann’s lush score. “Marnie” may be trash, but at least it’s sexy, visually expressionistic trash.


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Directed by Sidney Lumet. Screenplay by Paul Dehn, based on the novel by Agatha Christie. Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts, Richard Widmark, Michael York.

“Murder on the Orient Express” is the kind of big-budget, star-studded, entertainment Hollywood rarely makes anymore (except, of course, for the 2017 Kenneth Branagh remake). Directed by Sidney Lumet, this adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunnit stars Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, an eccentric detective called upon to investigate a murder aboard a train car stuck in deep snow. Everyone is a suspect, including Connery as the philandering Colonel Arbuthnot and Ingrid Bergman (in an Oscar-winning performance) as a shy Swedish maid. Costume and production designer Tony Walton lovingly recreates every detail of the mid 1930s, while Lumet and the A-list cast keep things sprightly and fun.


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Directed by Gus Van Sant. Written by Mike Rich. Starring Rob Brown, F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes.

Although he retired after the critically-panned “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman” (2003), Connery gave one last great performance in Gus Van Sant’s heartwarming drama. He plays William Forrester, a reclusive author who becomes a mentor to a young prodigy (Rob Brown) in his Bronx neighborhood. As the young man struggles at his Manhattan university to impress a bitter teacher (F. Murray Abraham), the once-promising novelist comes increasingly out of his shell to help his new friend. Though the plot is nothing new, Connery and Brown make an interesting combination, and the interplay between the two rings with honesty and authenticity.


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Directed by Terence Young. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, based on the novel by Ian Fleming. Starring Pedro Armendariz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Daniela Bianchi.

It doesn’t take much guesswork to pick Connery’s most iconic character. Following the wild success of “Dr. No” (1962), “From Russia with Love” find super-spy James Bond “reluctantly” romancing a Russian beauty (Daniela Bianchi) to retrieve an encryption device stolen by the nefarious SPECTRE. Connery would reprise the role in “Goldfinger” (1964), “Thunderball” (1965), “You Only Live Twice” (1967), “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), and “Never Say Never Again” (1973). All due respect to the rest, but Connery is still the best.


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11. TIME BANDITS (1981)

Directed by Terry Gilliam. Screenplay by Gilliam and Michael Palin. Starring John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Palin, Ralph Richardson, Peter Vaughan, David Warner.

Connery entered the the wild world of Terry Gilliam in this imaginative fantasy. Craig Warnock stars as Kevin, a young boy who finds himself traveling through time with a group of dwarves searching for treasure. As they bounce from era to era, they find themselves meeting King Agamemnon (Connery, who also plays a Fireman), Robin Hood (John Cleese), and Napoleon (Ian Holm), among others, all while being pursued by the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson) and his henchman Evil (David Warner). Though the episodic plot drags in places, the film is filled with many spectacular sights, and the script by former “Monty Python” members Gilliam and Michael Palin is appropriately witty and playful.


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Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Screenplay by Andrew Birkin, Gerard Brach, Howard Franklin, and Alain Godard, based on the novel by Umberto Eco. Starring F. Murray Abraham, Feodor Chaliapin, Jr., William Hickey, Michael Lonsdale, Ron Perlman, Christian Slater, Valentina Vargas.

“The Name of the Rose” is an odd film, a sort of Agatha Christie mystery with monks instead of detectives. Connery plays William von Baskerville, a nonconformist, scholarly friar investigating a series of suspicious deaths at an isolated abbey. Though the plot is more than a bit ridiculous, director Jean-Jacques Annaud does a good job of creating an ominous mood and atmosphere in the monastery, and Connery is captivating as always. Despite winning the BAFTA for Best Actor, Connery was snubbed at the Oscars.


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Written and Directed by John Milius. Starring Candice Bergen, Brian Keith, John Huston.

“The Wind and the Lion” is the kind of rip-roaring adventure Connery does best. Loosely based on a real life incident from 1904, the film centers on a rebellious Sharif (Connery) who kidnaps an American woman (Candice Bergen) and her children as political prisoners, prompting an international incident. Writer and director John Milius infuses the old-fashioned material with a modern sensibility, amping up the violence and sex appeal. Though it’s admittedly a tad weird seeing the Scottish-born Connery playing an Arab chief, he avoids simply creating a caricature, instead gives a nuanced, fully realized performance as a man torn between humanity and duty.


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Directed by John McTiernan. Screenplay by Larry Ferguson and Donald E. Stewart, based on the novel by Tom Clancy. Starring Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, Vladimir Goretoy.

Tom Clancy novels have provided ample source material for Hollywood, and “The Hunt for Red October” remains the high water mark for films based on his work. Connery stars as Marko Ramius, a Russian submarine captain headed for the U.S.A. Though the Soviet Union claims he’s a madman bent on launching a nuclear strike, CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) suspects he might be trying to defect. The brilliance of John McTiernan’s film is that it keeps the audience guessing as to Ramius’ motives, aided by a typically magnetic performance by Connery. “The Hunt for Red October” is a taut, intelligent thriller that relies on cat and mouse maneuvering to create suspense as opposed to pyrotechnics. The film won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing, while Connery competed at BAFTA as Best Actor.


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7. THE ROCK (1996)

Directed by Michael Bay. Screenplay by David Weisberg, Douglas S. Cook, and Mark Rosner, story by Weisberg and Cook. Starring Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, William Forsythe.

With “The Rock,” Connery brings out the best in the usually critically-derided Michael Bay. The film centers on a renegade military commander (Ed Harris) who threatens a nerve gas attack from Alcatraz prison against San Francisco. Connery plays Mason, a crafty ex-con who’s the only prisoner to ever escape from the island fortress. It’s up to him and a mild-mannered chemist (Nicolas Cage) to stop this madman before it’s too late. Like all of Bay’s films, “The Rock” is big, loud, dumb fun, aided by scenery-chewing performances by Connery, Cage, and Harris.


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6. THE HILL (1965)

Directed by Sidney Lumet. Screenplay by Ray Rigby, based on his play. Starring Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch, Ossie Davis, Roy Kinnear, Jack Watson, Ian Hendry, Sir Michael Redgrave.

The best of Connery’s collaborations with Sidney Lumet is this tense military drama set inside a British army prison in North Africa during WWII. Connery plays Joe Roberts, a former Squadron Sergeant Major convicted of assaulting a commanding officer. As punishment, the brutal Staff Sergeant Williams (Ian Hendry) forces Roberts and the other prisoners to climb an artificial hill over-and-over again in the blistering hot sun. Shot in stark black-and-white by Oswald Morris, “The Hill” is a lean, gritty little film that’s a career highlight for both the director and star.


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5. DR. NO (1962)

Directed by Terence Young. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, based on the novel by Ian Fleming. Starring Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord.

Bond. James Bond. With “Dr. No,” Connery assumed the role that would make him a star, and kicked off one of the most durable movie franchises in history. Based on a series of novels by Ian Fleming, the film introduced Connery as the charismatic, whip-smart British spy armed with an arsenal of gadgets and a way with the ladies. This first installment finds 007 traveling to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a fellow agent, leading him to the underground lair of the diabolical Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), a madman hell-bent on disrupting the U.S. space program. More than 50 years later, Connery remains the high-water mark for all Bonds.


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Directed by John Huston. Screenplay by Huston and Gladys Hill, based on the novella by Rudyard Kipling. Starring Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Saeed Jaffrey, Shakira Caine.

Connery and Michael Caine make a winning combination in John Huston’s splendidly entertaining adventure yarn. This adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s novella centers on two British former soldiers — Dravot (Connery) and Carnehan (Caine) — who set out for adventure in 19th century India. When they find themselves in the faraway land of Kafiristan, Dravot is mistaken for a deity by the natives and treated like royalty. “The Man Who Would Be King” is old-fashioned movie-making in the great tradition of classic Hollywood, with fantastic performances by the two leads and lean, nimble direction from Huston.


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Directed by Steven Spielberg. Screenplay by Jeffrey Boam, story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes. Starring Harrison Ford, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix.

How many third films in a series can hold a candle to the original? One that comes awfully close is “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which finds the adventurous archeologist (Harrison Ford) joining forces with his estranged father (Connery) to stop the Nazis from getting their hands on the Holy Grail. Packed with wall-to-wall action and a great deal of comedy, “Last Crusade” also contains a very personal father-son storyline that’s near and dear to director Steven Spielberg’s heart. It’s a shame Connery and Ford didn’t make more films together, because they make a charming team.


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Directed by Brian De Palma. Screenplay by David Mamet, based on the book by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley. Starring Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garia, obert De Niro.

Connery took home the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for Brian De Palma’s gangland epic. It tells the true story of how Federal Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) assembled a ragtag team to take down Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Connery plays Jimmy Malone, an Irish-American police officer who convinces Ness that the only way to defeat Capone’s thugs is to fight dirty. The actor tears into David Mamet’s dialogue with all the relish of a Shakespearean veteran, playing a very different kind of tough guy from the one he’s most famous for. The film is also notable for Ennio Morricone’s sweeping, heroic score.


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1. GOLDFINGER (1964)

Directed by Guy Hamilton. Screenplay Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn, based on the novel by Ian Fleming. Starring Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe, Shirley Eaton, Tania Mallet, Harold Sakata, Bernard Lee, Martin Benson, Lois Maxwell.


“Goldfinger” isn’t just the best of the Connery James Bond movies: it just might be the best Bond movie, period. At the very least, it’s the one that established the formula that would serve the franchise well over the next five decades. This installment finds 007 battling against the eccentric Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), who plans to contaminate the Fort Knox reserve. The film features one iconic moment after another, from the murdered woman coated in gold paint to the karate match with Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), from the razor-sharp hat thrown by the bizarre sidekick Odd Job (Harold Sakata) to the laser pointed at Bond’s most valuable body part. “Goldfinger” is first-rate entertainment best enjoyed with a martini that’s shaken, not stirred. The film won an Oscar for its sound effects, yet was snubbed for the iconic theme song sung by Shirley Bassey.