The films that got away from Scotland's greatest movie star
His licence to thrill as the original, and the best, 007, made him a big-screen icon. But Sean Connery's impact on the film world could have been even greater - reports the Daily Record
For instance, Connery could have weaved his magic on a whole new generation of movie fans if he hadn't turned down the role of Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
That way, he would have starred in two of the greatest film franchises - the adventures in Middle Earth and 007's secret agent thrillers.
Although it's almost 30 years since his last James Bond adventure, Never Say Never Again, Edinburgh's most famous son remains tied to that role.
It's indisputable that Dr No launched him into superstardom - but there's more to Sean Connery, knight of the realm and Oscar winner, than Bond.
It could even be said that Connery is Scotland's answer to John Wayne because, like The Duke, he never went down the method-acting route of having to master all manner of accents to get under the skin of characters.
Instead, he always brought an awesome presence and that indefinable element called star quality to the screen.
After Bond, and without ever losing the slightest trace of his soft Edinburgh burr, he was a Lithuanian submarine commander in The Hunt For Red October and an Arab sheik in The Wind And The Lion.
Years before Russell Crowe took us on a tour of accents of the British Isles in the recent Robin Hood epic, Connery, still as Scottish as ever, was an ageing hero of Sherwood Forest in Robin And Marian.
Then, in The Untouchables, he was a tough Irish American cop - sounding closer to Dunbar than Dublin - and deservedly earned an Academy Award.
And the best double act of his career came when he teamed up with Michael Caine for that glorious Raj romp, The Man Who Would Be King. They gelled so perfectly that it's astonishing they were never cast together again.
These films, and the Bonds, of course, are rightly considered the cinematic cream of his output. But scratch the surface and there's a lot more.
The gritty side of Connery is seen to great effect in the military prison drama The Hill. And in the dark drama The Offence, he gave what was probably his finest performance, as a policeman at breaking point.
Of course, there have also been times spent in the doldrums - like when he starred in duds like Meteor and Cuba and the atrocious big-screen version of The Avengers. But happily the good stuff far outweighs the dross.
There might have been even more to celebrate if Connery hadn't rejected a bunch of films - including Lord Of The Rings, which he supposedly turned down because he didn't fancy being in New Zealand for more than a year.
The combination of Connery and Barbra Streisand sounds irresistible - and it might have happened if, as claimed, he'd agreed to star alongside the diva in Funny Girl. The role went to Omar Sharif.
We could also have seen him star with Faye Dunaway in classic caper The Thomas Crown Affair. When he declined, Steve McQueen stepped in.
Another rejection was the role that Richard Attenborough eventually played in Jurassic Park.
But as he prepares to blow out the 80 candles on his birthday cake, Sean Connery can have few regrets as he looks back on a life in film that has always had audiences shaken and stirred.
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