SEAN Connery was in the papers this week because his former wife, Diane Cilento, has been attracting attention by “dishing the dirt” on her former husband. Sir Sean is understandably perplexed and upset. He’s used to being criticised, he says, and told The Telegraph: “Of course, a lot of people have their own agenda about me because of my support for the SNP.”
I became addicted to Bond movies through paying 10p a go to watch Connery double bills at the George cinema in Beith – usually Dr No and Goldfinger, or You Only Live Twice with Thunderball.
I confess I still idolise him. He was – is – the definitive Bond, and in every film I’ve seen him in since, his presence simply fills the screen. And as much as it may pain him to acknowledge it, he’s still James Bond, even 25 years after he last played the role.
Of course, he’s much more than that. He’s The World’s Greatest Living Scotsman.
I’m sure it’s true there are some who are only too willing to judge him harshly because of his generosity to the nationalist cause. Sir Sean’s name can barely be uttered in some circles without at least a sneer or snide comment about his politics and/or tax arrangements.
I disagree profoundly with his politics, as I do with the politics of many fellow citizens. But to define Sean Connery by his politics alone is doing him a grave disservice. When, in 1971, he was persuaded to return to the role of Bond four years after vowing never to return, he donated every penny of his very (and understandably) substantial fee to a Scottish charity. He has been an entirely positive role model for his fellow Britons and has been an outstanding international and cultural ambassador for his country – whether that country is Scotland or Britain. He’s also a great actor, one of the last great iconic Hollywood figures, in the same league as Bogart, McQueen, Newman and Redford.
Sir Sean Connery is an Edinburgh working class boy made good, a Great Briton. That he wants to spend his own money supporting the political cul-de-sac represented by the SNP is neither here nor there. Anyone who “has it in for him” because he’s a nationalist needs to acquire some perspective.
Better still, they want to buy Dr No and Goldfinger on DVD and appreciate a screen – and Scottish – legend.