Keeping Up With The Joneses
A Review of The Film Society of Lincoln Center's Gala Tribute to Sean Connery
New York, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, May 5, 1997
On Monday, May 5, I had the good fortune of attending the Film Society of Lincoln Center's tribute to film legend and "father" of Indiana Jones: Mr Sean Connery.
Each year, The Film Society honors a cinematic star by hosting a black tie affair -- complete with dozens of film clips followed by touching speeches from costars and the honoree. It's one grand evening, and this year's event was exceptional.
After Mr. Connery emerged from his limo, the normally blase New York passersby were suddenly moved to cheering and clapping. Mr. Connery was in a great mood, wearing a tuxedo -- reminiscent of his most enduring film character, the British secret agent. Smiling, turning, and clearly relishing the moment, Mr. Connery took in the crowd and waved hello. He beamed and yelled back to well-wishers as paparazzi bulbs flashed and TV lights blazed.
Mr Connery then spent the next ten minutes outside the Hall talking with the press, as the autograph hounds waved an array of memorabilia -- movie posters, album covers, 8x10s -- all to no avail. Mr. Connery was quickly escorted inside to an escalator -- but not before I was able to say "Congratulations, Mr. Connery." With that familiar twinkle in his eye, and a bright smile on his face, he said to me -- no kidding -- "Thank you." A more genuine moment I couldn't have imagined.
Minutes later, his most famous movie son -- Harrison Ford -- was led inside. Looking a bit overwhelmed, the man who would be Indy slipped right past me and my companion, Tara, who remarked that Mr. Ford had a "mane" of hair. To me, he more closely resembled "Mr. Solo" than "Dr. Jones."
Soon, the crowd found their way to their seats, and once again the elegant ballet hall was transformed into a movie theater that took us down memory lane. (There's something to be said for watching movies wearing a tuxedo -- while the actual movie stars themselves are watching their own performances -- right along with you!)
Mr. Connery and his fans enjoyed excellent clips accompanied by heartfelt speeches by Diana Ross, Ursula Andress, Blair Underwood, Sidney Lumet, and Tippi Hedren ("After Alfred Hitchcock took me under his wing...") . Because not all his costars were able to attend, warm wishes were expressed in videotaped segments from Michael Caine, Nicholas Cage, and Steven Speilberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw.
Soon, though, the crowd was treated to that hilarious sequence from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- in which Indy and his dad escape a dirigible in a two seater airplane, only to be pursued by pesky zeros. "What happens at 11 o'clock, Junior?" "Dad: 12 -- 11 -- 10 -- the PLANE is at 11 o'clock -- just SHOOT at the plane, Dad!" "Sorry, son -- THEY GOT US!"
Then the real highlight came: the speech by Harrison Ford.
"We come from the same acting school," said Mr. Ford, speaking so softly the whole room was totally silent. "You show up on time, you know your lines, and you do the work...hell, it ain't brain surgery!"
Mr. Ford continued to thank and praise Mr. Connery, stating "He took the role of Indy's father and transformed it -- with his wit... and timing... and knowledge of history -- and made what was originally a dottering old fool into the wonderful character that you just saw on the screen ...Just from watching that scene again I'm reminded of how rewarding and how much fun it was to do that picture with you. Bless you, Sean."
For his part, Mr Connery was equally gracious. "I grew up in Scotland, where I delivered milk. And now to be here in the Lincoln Center -- I like the way that sounds -- Lincoln Center -- and to be honored here in this building -- where the ballet, the opera --" Clearly moved, Mr. Connery expressed his gratitude, and closed his speech by thanking "you -- the audience." He jokingly suggested that if we stop showing up to see his work, he'll have to go back to Scotland and sell milk.
Like Indy's special admiration for his dad, we were treated to a rare night of Hollywood community in New York City. Both audience and stars alike joined in to express our mutual admiration for a great actor and his consistently great work.
Meanwhile, we all secretly hope that both Mr. Connery and Mr. Ford will oneday don their respective hats and get in front of the cameras once again as father and son. After all, at the end of Last Crusade Indy and his dad have sipped from the cup of Eternal Life, so it's entirely possible that....
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: T.C.
Created: May 1997
Last modified: May 25, 1998