The 15 Best Sean Connery Movies, Ranked

Sean Connery needs no introduction. His career in television and film spanned nearly 50 years and encompassed a wide range of beloved characters and projects. Known for his tall, rugged appearance, Connery got his start in theater productions, TV shows, and films throughout the 1950s, getting his first big break as Bond, James Bond, in 1962's "Dr. No," the first silver screen adaptation of the classic spy from Ian Fleming's novels. The film introduced the world to Connery's rough yet charismatic persona and was successful enough to kick off a franchise that continues today. Connery appeared as Bond in six total series installments, and his outings as the character established the paradigm that all subsequent Bond actors would follow to various degrees.

Connery's place in cinematic history would be secure even if James Bond was the only character he portrayed. However, he was a versatile actor and managed to avoid being typecast, going on to appear in a surprisingly diverse array of movies. Throughout his career he worked with such prestigious directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Lumet, and John Huston, appearing in "Marnie," "The Hill," and "The Man Who Would Be King," respectively. His body of work also includes several critically acclaimed roles such as his portrayal of Jim Malone in 1987's "The Untouchables" for which he would win his only Academy Award. These are the 15 best Sean Connery movies.

15. You Only Live Twice

Someone's committing hijackings in space, but they're doing more than just stealing some astro-hubcaps and catalytic converters. An entire NASA spacecraft has been stolen, and the U.S. is pointing its finger at the Russians. However, British intelligence thinks that Japan's behind the crime, so they assign their best playboy, er, spy, James Bond, to fake his death in Hong Kong and make his way to the Land of the Rising Sun to find who to bed next and who's messing with American rockets.

This would be Sean Connery's first of three retirements from Bond, and his disenchantment with the role is definitely on display. Still, Connery is such a freight train of confidence and charisma that he's still eminently watchable. While "You Only Live Twice" doesn't quite pack the excitement of previous 007 installments, there's quite a bit to enjoy, including the most elaborate sets of the entire series up to that point, even more fancy, high-tech gadgets, and a terrific setting in Japan. And let's not forget a plethora of double-oh-seven's double entendres.

14. Marnie

Margaret "Marnie" Edgar (Tippi Hedren) has just stolen thousands of dollars from a company that she was recently hired at and uses the money to care for her sickly mother. This is her modus operandi: Marnie charms her way into prestigious companies, then robs them. However, things get a little messy when she robs her employer, publisher Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), as they've started a romantic relationship. Instead of calling the police, Mark tracks down Marnie and blackmails her into marrying him, hoping to cure her of her thieving habits while scoring a wife in the process.

This is far from the great Alfred Hitchcock's best work, but there are quite a few gripping sequences that prove the Master of Suspense hadn't lost his touch. Although billed as "Alfred Hitchcock's Suspenseful Sex Mystery," it's fairly tame by today's standards. Don't expect "Basic Instinct"-levels of sex and violence. Sean Connery is great as Mark Rutland, bringing the classic charm he showcased as James Bond while adding an obsessive and almost perverse element to the character.

13. Robin and Marian

It's been more than two decades since Robin Hood (Sean Connery) annoyed the hell out of PrinceJohn (Ian Holm) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw), and he's now fighting in France as Richard the Lionheart's (Richard Harris) closest buddy. Hood hasn't been to his old 'hood in a while, and the only person he's kept from his swashbuckling past is his old pal, Little John. But when Richard the Lionheart dies, Robin decides it's time to stop fighting for good this time and head back to England. He's just about to hit up his old girlfriend, Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn), until the Sheriff of Nottingham and King John find out that the bane of their medieval lives is back.

Sean Connery may seem like an odd choice for an aging Robin Hood, but he brings just the right amount of charm that character requires, balanced with maturity and wisdom. Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian is spectacular and pairs perfectly with Connery. The two make a surprisingly sweet couple in this melancholic romantic adventure film.

12. From Russia With Love

SPECTRE is pretty bothered with James Bond for his part in the death of one of their top agents, Dr. No, and has sworn revenge against the MI6 agent. They recruit Irish assassin Donald "Red" Grant to kill Bond (Robert Shaw), with SPECTRE mastermind and Czechoslovak chess grandmaster Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal) hatching a scheme that involves baiting Bond to the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, where he will be tricked into stealing a Lektor cryptography device from the Soviets. Joining in on the plan is former Soviet counterintelligence colonel Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), who enlists consulate cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) to pretend to be an ally to Bond.

Sean Connery made an amazing first impression as James Bond in "Dr. No," and here, he settles into the character even more, bringing the swagger we expect from Bond but also a bit more realism, proving that at his best, Bond isn't just a charismatic hero who thinks of everything. This 007 ends up being quite relevant for its time, as it functions as both a fun espionage adventure film as well as a sharply made Cold War thriller.

11. Finding Forrester

Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) is a teenager from the Bronx who's an amazing basketball player but is also quietly gifted at writing. He's being watched by reclusive author William Forrester (Sean Connery), who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel but hasn't published anything since. Jamal manages to enter the good graces of the cranky Forrester, who helps him with his writing. Soon, Jamal scores a scholarship to an esteemed Manhattan private school to play basketball while continuing to work under the tutelage of Forrester on the condition that he does not pry into his mentor's life. However, Jamal's friendship helps the cantankerous writer break out of his shell.

"Finding Forrester" may be a bit of a sappy tear-jerker in some parts, but it's still an effective and touching coming-of-age film. While Sean Connery often plays larger-than-life characters, he deserves extra credit for his complex portrayal of William Forrester. Rob Brown is instantly likable as the talented young Jamal Wallace. The two characters form a bond that seems unlikely, but by the film's end, you won't be able to imagine them without one another.

10. The Hill

"The Hill" takes place during World War II at a British military prison in the Libyan desert where soldiers are incarcerated for minor crimes. However, what sets this military prison apart is the brutal treatment its prisoners must endure at the hands of cruel Staff Sgt. Williams (Ian Hendry). One of the more grueling tasks the prisoners must partake in is being forced to run up and down a massive hill in the brutal North African heat. Trooper Joe Roberts (Sean Connery) is a new prisoner and sets out to expose Williams for his severe actions when one of the men dies from his punishment.

There's no better actor to depict slow-burn machismo gone too far than Sean Connery. His valiantly defiant character is a perfect counterpoint to Ian Hendry's sadistically unhinged Staff Sgt. Williams. Directed by the great Sidney Lumet, "The Hill" is not one of his most well-known films, but it is an underrated gem in the master's body of work.

9. Goldfinger

While James Bond is on vacation in Miami Beach, he's assigned his next mission, which is to keep an eye on bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), who just so happens to be staying at a nearby hotel. It seems Goldfinger is engaged in some criminal activities, including smuggling gold (of course). As Bond keeps tabs on Goldfinger, he initially believes that there's not much to the wealthy man but soon learns that he's working on a devious scheme — ominously called "Operation Grand Slam" — that has the potential to wreak havoc on the Western economy as well as attract litigation from Denny's (okay, that last part is made up).

In Sean Connery's third outing as everyone's favorite MI6 agent, there is more action, exotic locations, and fancy gadgets, resulting in an over-the-top yet still highly entertaining OO7 film. By this point in the series, Connery had crystallized everything that makes James Bond so watchable. Some highlights include Bond's battle with one of his best foes, Oddjob (Harold Sakata), and the classic scene where he's strapped to a table with a laser beam moving far too slowly toward him.

8. The Man Who Would Be King

Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) and Danny Dravot (Sean Connery) are former British Army sergeants who've left the military to become adventurers. As India has become more modern in the late 1800s, the prospects for some fruitful lawlessness have largely dried up, and so Carnehan and Dravot visit their old friend Rudyard Kipling (Christopher Plummer) with a new scheme: Go to the forgotten country of Kafiristan, which hasn't seen a white man since Alexander the Great, help the current ruler conquer their enemies, and become rulers themselves.

Is there any better pair of actors who best represent that old-school British male charm that combines swagger with wit than Sean Connery and Michael Caine? There isn't, and "The Man Who Would Be King" proves it. Connery and Caine are terrific as Dravot and Carnehan in this thrilling adventure story based on Rudyard Kipling's novella. Iconic director John Huston keeps the plot moving at a breakneck pace but also allows for plenty of humorous banter between the two leads.

7. Highlander

Russell Edwin Nash (Christopher Lambert) owns a high-end antique shop in modern-day New York City, but it turns out he's actually hundreds of years old when an equally old enemy shows up for a fight. Nash promptly beheads him in a mystical sword fight. When interrogated by the police, Nash reveals he is an immortal named Connor MacLeod who discovered his powers in 16th-century Scotland. After surviving a fatal attack, he was cast out of his clan due to accusations of black magic. Soon after, MacLeod met another immortal warrior named Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery), who trains him to protect their reality from dark forces.

Is this film better made than, say, "The Man Who Would Be King?" No. Does it have a deeper subtext than "The Hill?" Nope. Is Sean Connery even the lead? Forget about it. However, "Highlander," in this writer's opinion, still ranks fairly high on the list of Connery's best films because of how it manages to be unbelievably cheesy yet so comforting to watch. That's some real alchemy, right? There's never a dull moment, as pretty much everyone in the cast is hamming it up as much as possible. Why someone would cast Connery, a Scotsman, as an ancient Egyptian swordsman with a Spanish name, who just happens to be hanging out in Scotland, is beyond me, but they deserve a medal for their, ahem, creative logic.

6. Never Say Never Again

James Bond is getting up in the years, and after nearly dying on his most recent mission, his superiors believe that he's starting to lose his combat edge, so they send him to a health clinic to get back into fighting shape. However, his time out of the field ends early when Maximilian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), an evil genius from SPECTRE, swipes a couple of nuclear missiles as part of the organization's plan to hold the world ransom. Luckily, Largo's girlfriend Domino Petachi (Kim Basinger) betrays him and allies with Bond, who's hellbent on preventing a global nuclear disaster.

Sean Connery returns to the role of 007 after a 12-year absence (his last film as James Bond was 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever"). While he's aged, his charm remains very much intact, and if anything, that makes the fact that he can still pull off Bond even more impressive. Connery's older Bond is also tempered by a sort of maturity rarely seen in the 007 films, adding another dimension to the character without crowding out what makes him so watchable.

5. The Hunt For Red October

Taking place in the mid-1980s, during the height of the Cold War, "The Hunt For Red October" follows Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), a Soviet naval captain who's just been put in charge of a special new submarine called Red October. This submarine is equipped with a "caterpillar drive" that makes it nearly impossible to be discovered by enemy sonar. While Ramius is ordered to participate in military exercises, he instead sends bogus orders that his and another submarine are to carry out missile drills off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

 However, Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin), a CIA analyst and former Marine, has reason to believe that Ramius may be defecting to America and is given three days to prove his theory.

"The Hunt for Red October" is an incredibly tense thriller that holds up remarkably well today, even if its Cold War themes have aged a bit. Despite the obvious Scottish accent creeping into his Russian, Sean Connery is terrific as Marko Ramius. It's a stern and intense performance that few actors aside from Connery could've pulled off.

4. The Rock

Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is a timid biochemist working for the FBI, who has just been assigned to a dangerous mission. The prison-turned-tourist-attraction, Alcatraz, has just been seized by Marine Gen. Francis Xavier Hummel (Ed Harris) and a group of soldiers who demand that the U.S. government pay benefits to the families of veterans killed on secret military operations, or he'll launch some dangerous gas warheads at San Francisco. Goodspeed is tasked with infiltrating Alcatraz to disarm the warheads, and joining him is ex-British intelligence agent John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery) and one of the only people to have escaped Alcatraz, to get him into the former prison.

Again, is "The Rock" more artfully made than many of the other films that preceded it on this list? Absolutely not. However, it's one of the most fun on this list. Michael Bay's film is packed with action and suspense, leaving little room for logic, but "The Rock" isn't catering to our brains, so we can't fault it for being something it's not. Who can't appreciate Sean Connery as a grizzled old veteran-criminal who must team up with Nicolas Cage's mild-mannered scientist on a prison island?

3. Dr. No

John Strangways (Timothy Moxon), the station chief of MI6, and his secretary have gone missing in Jamaica, prompting MI6 to send 007 to paradise to investigate. Bond's first suspect is local geologist Professor R.J. Dent (Anthony Dawson), who was the last person to see Strangways before his mysterious disappearance; Bond's suspicions are proven correct when he discovers that Dent is under the employ of Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman), a member of the secret criminal organization, SPECTRE. Dr. No plans to display SPECTRE's might to the world by thwarting the Project Mercury space launch at Cape Canaveral.

The big screen debut of James Bond is a helluva fun flick, and Sean Connery proves that, despite some stiff competition over the decades, he will always be the best Bond. The role fits Connery like a glove and establishes so many of the traits that typify the character to this day. There are some rough edges to the film (instead of the usual globetrotting associated with 007 films, "Dr. No" primarily takes place in Jamaica) and some elements that haven't aged well. Still, it's the template from which all other James Bond films have been and will always be crafted.

2. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade

Right after Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) retrieves a golden crucifix that belonged to Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to donate to Marcus Brody's (Denholm Elliott) museum, He discovers that his father (Sean Connery), who's dedicated his life to finding the Holy Grail, has just gone missing. Indy then sets out to find out what happened to his father, beginning his search in Venice, where, according to the elderJones' notes, is an essential clue leading to the fabled relic. Joining Indy on his adventure is the beautiful and intelligent Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody), who helps him track down his father in Austria. However, it's only a matter of time before both Joneses realize that there's a bigger, more sinister game afoot.

There's no one better to play Indiana Jones' father than James Bond himself. Sean Connery is perfect as the brilliant yet cantankerous Professor Henry Jones, who at first, is put off by his son's adventures, but he still manages to get a few good licks in. Connery and Ford have some hilarious scenes together as they take on Nazis and double agents while also sharing a few touching moments.

1. The Untouchables

Set in Chicago during prohibition, "The Untouchables" follows federal agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) as he sets out to take down crime lord Al Capone (Robert De Niro), who is responsible for much of the city's corruption and illegal liquor trafficking. However, Capone is too well-connected to be brought down by conventional means, so Ness teams up with veteran Irish-American officer Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery), and together, they assemble a squad of talented men to bend the law to get their man.

This film has so much going for it: an incredible cast, a stunning score from the legendary Ennio Morricone, plenty of action and suspense, and, of course, Sean Connery as Jimmy Malone. While his obvious Scottish accent derails his attempt to come off as Irish, everything else about his performance is terrific. He's stern and by the book, yet he crackles with an idealism and recklessness that steals the spotlight in every scene he's in. It's no wonder he received his only Academy Award for this role.