Top critical review
One person found this helpful
on 7 July 2013
I'm normally not that interested in biographies but bought this as a Birthday present for my Grandmother and took the time to read it before sending it to her. Christopher Bray certainly has great enthusiasm for writing about Connery, almost making up for the complete lack of access to the man himself with sheer hero worship. But while I found the opening chapters about Connery's childhood and early career the most interesting, the rest of the book then becomes a kind of case for the defence excusing every questionable movie (and every questionable move) Connery's ever made.
Because Bray is clearly such a fan, Connery can do absolutely no wrong. His infamous defence of hitting women aside (Bray actually makes quite a good case here that Connery's words were taken somewhat out of context and blown out of all proportion), Connery is also credited with "Creating" James Bond. Forget Ian Fleming, Terrence Young, Albert R. Broccoli, etc.- it was all Connery! There would have been no series without him according to Bray and the post- Connery films barely rate a mention.
Bray does briefly- and somewhat grudgingly- praise George Lazenby's physicality, Timothy Dalton's intensity and Pierce Brosnan's looks but hasn't a good word for either Roger Moore or Daniel Craig (tellingly, the two most successful Bonds along with Connery), describing their films as being inferior to the Die Hard sequels as an example.
He also has- to my mind- some funny ideas about Connery's later films. Two of his best- Highlander and The Hunt for Red October- are completely slammed for not giving him enough screen time (making me wonder if he bothered watching them properly at all). Whilst the ugliest height of Connery's ungratefulness to the series that made him, 1983's god-awful "Rival" Bond film Never Say Never Again, seems to baffle Bray as to why it didn't work and failed so miserably (the answer pretty clearly being that Connery felt as he does- that he himself was the only essential ingredient).
So I'm sure it wasn't the author's intent that Connery doesn't really come out of this book very well. His disillusionment with Bond seems to have been more about wanting more money rather than about press intrusion into his private life. His Scottish nationalism seems to be more about being "Unable" to live in his homeland because of his tax avoidance. And his two belated returns to 007 were purely financially motivated (as well as being easily his two worst Bond films).
Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive Connery fan but chances are that unless (like the author) your heroes can do no wrong, you won't come out of this thinking what a nice guy he must be! The main thing I got from it was that the Bond producers should have let him go after Thunderball (another great film Bray doesn't seem to rate- again because other people are occasionally on screen!) which remains his last great Bond performance.