Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Favorite Year

I was late to the game when it came to the great Peter O'Toole.  There are a dozen or so actors that I absolutely adore, DeNiro, Pacino, Pitt, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Spencer Tracy and on and on and on.  I had seen "Goodbye Mr. Chips."  It was a maudlin remake of a World War II classic.  O'Toole owns the movie.

But O'Toole never really endeared myself to his artistry until I saw "My Favorite Year."  I didn't even see it in a theatre but on AMC or something like it.  The movie is one of my guilty pleasures.  O'Toole owns this send up of a Errol Flynn type, set in the world of a parody of "Your Show of Shows," a live 1950's television comedy show.  Drunken and outrageous, Peter O'Toole steals your heart in this role.
It wasn't until the 1990's that I actually saw "Lawrence of Arabia" on TMC.  It's the best movie made in the 1960's, period, just as Godfather II is the best movie made in the 1970's.  It may be the best bit of acting on the big screen I've ever seen.  He was nominated for an Oscar, but he failed to win.  In fact O'Toole was nominated 8 times and never won a golden statue. 

Even little movies that he made later in life, like "Venus," is charming.  O'Toole plays a smarmy, aging actor, lusting after a young, hustling, nymphet.  In a lot of ways O'Toole was a lot like Clark Gable in that he could just play himself.  But he was so much more than that.  "Lawrence of Arabia," his first major role in a motion picture, spoke volumes to that.

I'm sad tonight that Peter O'Toole is gone.  He was part of the old Hollywood that gave us Olivier and Burton.

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