Long-lost video footage of Sir Sean Connery’s first-ever lead role on TV has been unearthed, 57 years after it was first broadcast. The former James Bond star portrayed struggling boxer Malcolm ‘Mountain’ McClintock in the 1957 play Requiem for a Heavyweight, which aired live on the BBC. There was no official recording by the U.K. network, but director Alvin Rakoff taped the show for his own archives and stored it away in his attic, and he only remembered having footage of the live event during a recent interview.
Recalling his decision to film the play, he tells the BBC, “I had suddenly thought: ‘Maybe this is an important piece,’ and I spoke to the man in the sound booth and asked him to do a reel-to-reel so he had an audio recording, and he did.” A young Michael Caine also featured in Rakoff’s remake of Requiem for a Heavyweight, which was originally created for U.S. TV and starred Jack Palance in the lead role. Palance had been due to reprise his part as McClintock for the BBC version, but he pulled out and the director credits his then-girlfriend, Doctor Who actress Jacqueline Hill, with convincing him to cast newcomer Connery.
He says, “I got a call from his (Palance’s) agent who said: ‘Jack ain’t (sic) gonna show’. Something better had come up and he didn’t want to come to England. “She (Hill) said, ‘Have you seen Sean…? The ladies will like him’, which was quite a remarkable statement but it was true, women adored him and so I called him and narrowed it to two fellows and Sean got it.”