Sunday, December 15, 2013

RIP, Peter O'Toole

The acting world and the world of cinema has lost one of its luminaries.

Peter O'Toole has passed away.  He was the good old age of 81.
I'm not going to pretend like I'm some sort of O'Toole aficionado.  I'm not.  On an inspection of his filmography I am surprised to find that I've seen eight of his movies (I thought it'd be less), but a few of those are weird entries ("weird entry" is a nice way of describing Supergirl [1984], King Ralph [1991], and Phantoms [1998]).

Other than Pixar's Ratatouille (2007), for which O'Toole provided the voice for food critic Anton Ego, I guess I've only seen two great O'Toole movies in my time (Caligula and Zulu Dawn [both 1979] were interesting but don't quite qualify), but they're both pretty fantastic movies and I have to heavily recommend them both.

The Ruling Class (1972) is a scathing satirical take on the British class system, proper manners, and religion, as O'Toole plays a man (the newly minted Earl of Gurney) who believes himself to be Jesus Christ (and sometimes Jack the Ripper).  This leads to a bit of murder, mayhem, mania, and a few musical numbers, too.  This is a phrase that has found overuse, but this film really is quite unlike anything else you may've seen.  O'Toole is flat out brilliant in it, mesmerizing in his madness.

The other great O'Toole movie I've seen is one of the greatest movies ever made, and a large part of that greatness is due to O'Toole's performance.  It might simply be one of the finest performances ever put to film.  T.E. Lawrence is a captivating screen figure and the power of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) comes from O'Toole's portrayal of him while he navigates the hauntingly beautiful desert landscapes.

If you've never seen Lawrence of Arabia and you consider yourself a fan of cinema, do yourself a favor and see it immediately.  They say it's a movie that begs to be seen on the big screen, and while this is true (seeing it on 70mm is one of my personal life goals), I would argue that this movie simply begs to be seen.

So see it.

Peter O'Toole was nominated for eight Oscars, including for his work in Lawrence of Arabia.  He lost every time.

He was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2003, but he initially declined the honor, saying he was "still in the game" and would "like to win the lovely bugger outright."  Indeed, one of his eight nominations came after his honorary award, in 2006 for the film Venus.  He was 74 at the time.

You can read more (and better written things) about O'Toole HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Peter O'Toole.
Without a doubt,
one of the greats.

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