Sean Connery’s wife was ‘furious’ over life-threatening film stunts

Dr. No: Sean Connery stars as James Bond in 1962

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Today, Sunday June 19, at 1:50pm, The First Great Train Robbery is airing on BBC Two. The historical fiction movie was directed by Jurassic Park writer Michael Crichton, and he had a lot of passion for the subject. So much so that he hired some of the world’s best actors to join him in the project.

First on his list was James Bond star Sean Connery, as well as Donald Sutherland and Lesley-Anne Down.

But the relatively limited budget left his hands tied where the stunts were concerned.

Crichton once noted how he couldn’t get people to do the stunts for him and his actors.

So, when the train scenes required Connery to be running across the roof of the vehicle while it was moving, he happily obliged.

Some things went wrong almost instantly, however, according to Classic Film TV Cafe and IMDB.

The train was only allowed to be going a maximum of 35 miles per hour, but Connery argued it was going faster.

The train driver assured the team it was only going 35mph because he was counting telegraph poles to measure the speed.

But when a helicopter pilot took a speed reading, he revealed the truth.

The pilot found Connery was running atop the train that was going more than 55mph.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the locomotive was constantly spewing embers at the cast and camera crew. And on one occasion Crichton’s hair caught on fire, prompting people to jump on him and douse the flames from his head in a panicked scuffle.

These same embers would rain into Connery’s eyes while he was running atop the train, meaning that he had an extremely limited vision while he was racing across the vehicle’s rooftop.

Thankfully, the train’s roof was covered in sand so Connery had a better chance of not slipping – but it didn’t help.

One horrifying moment during filming had Connery slipping between two cars while jumping over a gap.

He struggled to get back up but did eventually manage. In the process, however, he lost all of the props he was holding onto.

When Connery’s wife, Micheline Roquebrune, eventually saw the film and learned of the danger he put himself in, she was utterly furious.

Specifically, Micheline was enraged over the notion that Connery had to do his own stunts and put himself in danger.

At the time Connery was 48-years-old – so he was certainly not sprightly enough to be doing his own dangerous stunts.

Still, the hard work and danger were ultimately worth it.

Although the film had a relatively meagre $7 million budget it earned more than $13 million at the box office.

It also won an award.

The First Great Train Robbery won the Best Motion Picture Screenplay award in 1980 at the Edgar Awards.


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