Marni 1964 Based on the novel by Winston Graham. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. An improbable psychological thriller that nonetheless holds one’s attention with fascinating details. Marni (Tippi Hedren) is a serial thief. She becomes the trusted bookkeeper/payroll head of a company through elaborate lies and her appearance (buttoned-up, but I suppose pretty enough) no references, works hard, earns trust, robs the safe and disappears assuming a new alias. The heroine has a recurring nightmare she can’t quite see clearly, violent reaction to thunderstorms, the color red, and being touched. Her only love is horses. A cold, conservative mother (Louise Latham) in Baltimore is sent money and periodically visited.
At The Rutland Company in Philadelphia, Marni is hired with a nod from widower Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) who got a glimpse of her at her last job and probably knows she’s a thief. Rutland is making a study of instinctual behavior through predators of the Columbian rain forest. Marni is something of an attractive specimen. He pursues her despite obvious signs of mental illness. They marry. She shuts doors on him, tries to run, won’t share a bed – still, he’s determined to get at the root of her issues and cure her.
According to royal biographer Craig Brown, Hitchcock offered Princess Grace (Grace Kelly) the title role. She accepted, but reaction to the announcement was so negative in Monaco, she withdrew. Marilyn Monroe was considered. Eugene Archer of The New York Times said that “relative newcomers” Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery played roles that “called out for Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.” He’s low key and as credible as that character can be, while she’s over the top. With Diane Baker, Martin Gabel, and Alan Napier. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The First Great Train Robbery 1978 Directed by Michael Crighton based on his book. A caper film with a sense of humor and terrific Victorian details. Master thief, Edward Pierce (Sean Connery), is a member of London’s high society. Planning to steal a shipment of gold, he recruits Robert Agar (Donald Sutherland) and courts bank president Edgar Trent’s (Alan Webb) spinster daughter, Elizabeth (Gabrielle Lloyd), in order to secure an impression of a key to the safe. The second key impression will be made by girlfriend Miriam (Lesley-Anne Down) posing as a courtesan.
The plot unfurls. There are close calls The robbery is successful, but betrayal occurs. Still, things are not over. The film’s plot is loosely based on the Great Gold Robbery of 1855, in which William Pierce engineered the theft of a trainload of gold being shipped to the British Army during the Crimean War. Connery performed most of his own stunts in the film, including the extended sequence on top of a train moving at over 40 miles an hour. (He was told it would be 20.). Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Untouchables 1987 Directed by Brian De Palma. 1930. Gangster/bootlegger Al Capone (Robert Di Niro) has Chicago in a vise. Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) puts together a force specifically to put him behind bars. Instrumental to this is veteran Irish American police officer, Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery, Best Supporting Actor Academy Award), who’s appalled at corruption in the department. Italian-American Police Academy trainee George Stone (Andy Garcia) is recruited as an undercover source. The film describes how Capone’s reign is brought to an end. There are murders, deals, stings, and losses. Characters are solid. Production values top notch.
Perhaps the first time a general public began to think of Sean Connery outside of his iconic James Bond persona. With Charles Martin Smith, Patricia Clarkson, and Billy Drago. “Ordinarily, a violent film attracts predominantly men, but this is also touching, about redemption and relationships and because of that the audience tends to forgive the excesses when it comes to violence.” Nina Darton, The New York Times. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Family Business 1989 Based on a Vincent Patrick novel. Directed by Sidney Lumet. Three generations are drawn into a seemingly uncomplicated robbery. Jesse McMullen (Sean Connery) is a Scottish American widower whose life in America has garnered a track record of thievery resulting in prison time and his own iconoclastic set of morals. An amiable rogue and catnip to women, he has friends everywhere in the neighborhood. Jesse’s son Vito – his wife was Sicilian – ( a miscast Dustin Hoffman) was raised in the family business but went straight when his own son Adam (Matthew Broderick) was born. He now owns a wholesale Twelfth Avenue meat-packing warehouse.
Adam drops out of MIT a few months shy of his Masters Degree. He’s always romanticized his grandfather’s life. One of the Adam’s professors offers him a million dollars to steal results from a laboratory. Determined to have the adventure Jesse repeatedly described, Adam draws in both his grandfather and, in order to keep an eye on him, his father, Vito. Because of Adam’s naiveté, things go very wrong. This is a family story not a crime tale. Connery is charming, Broderick well chosen. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Russia Films:
Hunt for Red October 1990 An adaptation of the John Clancy thriller. Directed by John McTiernan. Soviet Naval Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) wishes to defect from Russia with his officers and the latest Soviet submarine. Is his motive credible or has he gone rogue in order to effect a nuclear strike? With Alec Baldwin, Joss Ackland, Tim Curry, Peter Firth, Scott Glenn, and James Earl Jones. A testosterone film.
The Russia House 1990 Based on the John le Carré novel. Directed by Fred Schepisi. Young Soviet Katya Orlova (Michelle Pfeiffer) tries to give publisher Bartholomew “Barley” Scott-Blair (Sean Connery) a manuscript detailing Russia’s capability for waging nuclear war. One assumes he has a reputation for fair-minded liberality. Instead, the volume lands at The British Embassy. Barley is conscripted as a spy. Growing close to Katya, however, he must find a way to protect her despite direct orders. Well plotted, well acted. With Roy Scheider, James Fox, John Mahoney, Michael Kitchen, J.T. Walsh. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Entrapment 1999 Directed by John Amiel. A stylish caper film with charm, romance and intriguing methodology. Robert ‘Mac’ MacDougal (Sean Connery) is a professional art thief; Virginia ‘Gin’ Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) an agent for The Waverly Insurance Company. Saying she wants to crossover to crime, Gin works her way into Mac’s good graces.They plan the robbery of an ancient Chinese mask from a Scottish castle. Gin keeps her boss abreast of plans. Mac is aware, but testing her. His research reveals she’s trying to sell the artifact to a buyer in Kuala Lumpur. She convinces him she has other, bigger plans. They travel to Malaysia for a potentially enormous heist.
The two get involved, but neither trusts the other. Nor do we know whether she’s on the level until the very end. Scenes in Malaysia are evocatively shot. Zeta-Jones fans will enjoy her “training.” With Will Patton, Ving Rhames, Terry O’Neill, Maury Chaykin. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Finding Forester 2000 Directed by Gus Van Sant. A genteel film with nuanced portrayals. Recluse writer William Forrester (Sean Connery) idly watches African American boys play basketball from his window. One smart scholarship kid, 16 year-old Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), is dared by his friends to sneak into Forrester’s apartment. He does, but is caught and flees without a backpack containing his writing. Forrester leaves the pack outside his door having edited the writing. The two bond as mentorship begins revealing elements of their disparate lives.
Bigotry makes Jamal’s advance more difficult. Additionally, he’s ostracized by peers for going over to the other side. The men influence one another. With F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, and Busta Rhymes. Rent on Amazon Prime.