Sean Connery: James Bond star and Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner to receive AFI Life Achievement Award
Sean Connery, best known for playing James Bond in a series of highly successful 1960s spy flicks, will be the 34th recipient of the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, to be handed out in 2006. (Image: Sean Connery as James Bond in Thunderball.)
Although at one point it looked like Sean Connery might become a movie has-been known only as The Old James Bond, the Scottish-born actor (in Edinburgh, on Aug. 25, 1930) has had a long and to a certain extent distinguished career. Among his nearly 70 film appearances are a number of well-regarded efforts (at least in some quarters), including Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie (1964), with Tippi Hedren; Sidney Lumet's The Hill (1965), The Offence (1972), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974); John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King (1975), opposite Michael Caine; and Fred Zinnemann's Five Days One Summer (1982), with Lambert Wilson.
Sean Connery's Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, starring Kevin Costner, was clearly a sentimental gesture. At 57, The Old James Bond was still standing. (See also: “Sean Connery: European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.”)
Sean Connery James Bond movies
For the record, Sean Connery's James Bond movies are the following: Dr. No (1962), with Ursula Andress; From Russia with Love (1963), with Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya; Goldfinger (1964), with Honor Blackman, Gert Fröbe, and Shirley Eaton; Thunderball (1965), with Claudine Auger and Adolfo Celi; You Only Live Twice (1967), with Akiko Wakabayashi; Diamonds Are Forever (1971), with Jill St. John; and, looking tired, Never Say Never Again (1983), with Kim Basinger, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Barbara Carrera, and Max von Sydow. Connery would never play James Bond again. Follow-up James Bonds were Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and, more recently, Daniel Craig.
AFI Life Achievement Award recipients: Overwhelmingly male, increasingly younger
Previous AFI Life Achievement Award recipients include Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, David Lean, Gregory Peck, John Huston, and Frank Capra. Only six women have thus far been awarded the AFI's top prize: Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Barbara Stanwyck, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, and Meryl Streep. (See also: “Honorary Oscar Bypasses Women.”)
Apparently in an attempt to bolster television viewership ratings, in recent years the AFI has focused on actors and directors who are still well known by the masses, e.g., the aforementioned Barbra Streisand and Meryl Streep, in addition to George Lucas, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, and now Sean Connery. (Admittedly, Connery is quite a bit older than the other names mentioned in this paragraph.)
Currently less popular – but equally, if not more, deserving – veterans from the 1930s–1960s, among them Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine, Arthur Penn, Sidney Lumet, Julie Christie, will in all likelihood remain unrecognized by the AFI.
Sean Connery James Bond in Thunderball photo: United Artists.