Screengrab: How Sean Connery Kicked Off a New Hollywood Genre


from Richard Lutz

You seemingly can’t move a finger these days without being peeked at:  cctv, recorded call centre chats, cookie tracking, social media sites peering into our lives. We live in a surveillance world.

More than 40 years ago, Sean Connery starred in an urban  caper that was one of the first to look at this world of secret surveillance. The Anderson Tapes (Thur; 13.15, Ch4) is a crime thriller par excellence as post-007 Connery (with  a balding pate and expanding belly) leads a gang about to rip off an entire apartment building in the fancy side of NYC.

No one knows that  every word,  every move is being recorded by an assortment of inept organisations. Director Sidney Lumet, always a smart director,  is saying that we’re being taped by guys who don’t even know why the recordings are being done ..or for whom. And this was forty years ago.

This film presaged a whole raft of  ‘Look Who’s Looking At You’ movies that still hit the screen with due regularity ever since The Anderson Tapes premiered  in 1971.

Lumet does a grand job at cranking up the drama.  Connery- despite the weirdly daft  attempt at a Yank accent- is the charismatic brains of the gang of thieves and Christopher Walken gets a look in as a baby faced cohort who stands by our Sean. This was only Walken’s second film and he looks s-o-o-o- young. Where have the golden years gone?

Martin Balsam, that round faced, round bodied supporting actor who usually plays neurotic heavies tries his hand as a camp art dealer ready to help Connery and, of course, this being Hollywood,  it all ends badly because crime doesn’t pay in America. Except, of course,  if you’re a banker or a politician.

Good supporting rolesalso from Dyan Cannon  Cary Grant’s ex-wife who used to drop acid with him) and New York Jewish comic  Alan King as a mob heavy. All worth hitting the record button for.

Let’s move on: Did I mention in passing that Connery was in a movie and used to be 007? Well, if that opens your front door, try super hunk Daniel  Craig in the 2007 remake of Casino Royale  (Fri; 13.25, ITV2). He looks good, the plot rips forward and Craig does a passable impression of Ursula Andress stepping out of the surf.

Let’s stay with Brit actors. Michael Caine goes all groovy sixties in Alfie (Mon; 22.40, Film4). It made him a star and still is renowned for the Cilla Black song, What’s It All About?  It’s a  classic. And please don’t go a million miles near the awful remake with Jude Law.

Ecclesiastically, no film comes better than Jesus Christ Superstar (Tues, 22.30, ITV3). I mean you get the Bible, great bathrobes and Tim Rice pop songs all in one. Boy, those shepherds could sing. I mention it only because the songs are OK and… guess what…Melvyn Bragg went and wrote the screenplay way back there in ’73. Good old Melvyn- see what a Cumbrian lad could do back in the good old days.

Next night, tuck down with a whiskey and soda for The Third Man (Wed; 16.05, Film4). I saw it again this past spring and it still makes alot of sense. Orson Welles got really sick running through those Viennese sewers in the final scenes.

And let’s end the week with  Heaven Knows, Mr Allison (Fri;13.10, Ch4). Either you love or are put to sleep by Robert Mitchum, those eyes and that ennui. I love him.