Monday, 16 December 2013

Peter O'Toole

I was surprised by how affected I was by the death of Peter O'Toole yesterday. But then he has been an important actor for me ever since I first saw The Last Emperor (Bernardo Bertolucci 1987) the year it came out. I was also delighted by his performance in King Ralph (David S. Ward 1991). I cannot vouch for the quality of that film today, but I can vouch for the quality of Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean 1962). Its quality and its importance to me. I watch it regularly, I quote from it often and once I even wrote a short story that, although set in the presence, intertwined the film and T.E. Lawrence with the main character in my story. I am always mesmerised by his eyes, voice, and steely presence. (I also think that it is not only a portrait of Lawrence but of David Lean as well.)

There is also the filmatisation of Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim (Richard Brooks 1965), The Stunt Man (Richard Rush 1980), two appearances as Henry II (Becket (Peter Glenville 1964) and The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey 1968)), the enchanting How to Steal a Million (William Wyler 1965), with Audrey Hepburn, and much else, often playing kings, bishops and men of authority, but sometimes only being a voice and often letting himself go in silly farce.

Here he is in The Stuntman:

Here is a scene with Vanessa Redgrave from Venus (2006):

By above and beyond all else there is Lawrence. Where would I be today with him?

Actors never die, they just exit the stage.

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