Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sean Connery's beastly side

There are many dimensions to Sir Sean Connery, I suppose. But for me the stereotype is Agent 007, the classy, tuxedo-clad, sophisticated womanizer – neat and tidy to a T. But watching A Fine Madness (Irvin Kershner, 1966) where Connery plays frustrated poet Samson Shillitoe, his role is that of a crazed beast of an artist, a self-obsessed cave man who has no patience for anyone outside of his egocentric bubble. It’s an incredible performance. Connery (photo shows scene from movie) here is anything but the suave gentleman although womanizer he remains, though he’s not the cause of it, as his character fully admits. It’s just that women are so aroused by his bullying and beastly good looks they can’t resist throwing  themselves at him.....This is another of Kershner’s mid-1960s movies about philandering men – usually creative types who are trapped in marriage. In this case Connery’s on screen wife is played by Joanne Woodward. In Kershner’s 1970 film Loving (see Aug. 30 post below) George Segal is the unhappy writer, also married to a bombshell, Eva Marie Saint, but finding no satisfaction in domestic life. Arguably, however, in A Fine Madness Connery’s character is more afflicted with writer’s block than anything else and the film dissolves into a kind of madcap romp where psychiatrists try to cure him, “try” being the operative word..... This film is also great for the large number of Manhattan street scenes. Anyone who wants to get a feel for how New York looked in the mid-1960s should see this. Many of the scenes have the film’s characters mingling among the regular Manhattan street crowds with panoramic crane shots looking down on streets like Park Avenue.....The Warner Brothers DVD I watched had as an extra segment – an hilarious short film called Mondo Connery, which is worth watching just for itself. It’s not a trailer but shows Connery behind the scenes as he makes his way around Manhattan. When he finally climbs aboard a New York Airways helicopter atop the then Pan Am building for a flight to JFK (remember that?) the droll announcer says that with Connery’s departure Manhattan will never be the exciting place it was with his presence.

And, the Toronto International Film festival is over. Hurray! Now Toronto can get back to its non self-obsessed self.

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