Sean Connery, RIP

Some scenes from ‘The Untouchables’, his Oscar-winning role

Sir Sean Connery, who originated the role of James Bond onscreen, died yesterday in the Bahamas, at age 90. He passed away quietly, peacefully, and in luxury, as befits one of the great movie stars of all time. People know Connery best as Bond, as they should, but I love him for his role in 1987’s The Untouchables. That summer, I worked as an usher at a movie theater at the Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix, and The Untouchables played on two screens for months. I’ve memorized all Connery’s lines as Jimmy Malone, a tough-skinned Chicago beat cop who helps Kevin Costner’s Elliot Ness take down Al Capone.

Connery won a well-deserved Oscar for his portrayal, one of the best tough-guy performances in film history. This post serves as nothing more than a marker to remember his extraordinary scenes from that film. They will be with me forever.

In this legendary scene, Connery delivers David Mamet’s rat-a-tat dialogue perfectly as he describes “the Chicago way” to Costner’s prudish Ness. This mix of toughness, compassion, and urban realism makes Malone one of the most Chicago characters ever put to film.

This next video is a bonus pack of Connery’s first encounter with George Stone, played by a young Andy Garcia, which really shows the Chicago Irish and Italians going at each other. The second scene, one of my favorites from the film, is a seemingly endless alley fistfight in the rain between Connery and a corrupt beat cop on the take from Capone. It’s one of the most brutal and realistic fistfights ever put to film.

In this stirring scene, Connery leads The Untouchables on their first liquor raid. “How do you think he feels now? Better? Or worse?”

Then, of course, there’s Connery’s tragic death scene from The Untouchables, one of the saddest and most brutal demises of any character in movie history. In the hands of a lesser actor and lesser man, Malone would have been a ridiculous character. But Connery gave him Shakespearian depth and pathos.

No other screen actor, living or dead, could have pulled off a performance like this.

Sean Connery, RIP

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 11 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. He's written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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