Showing posts with label Peter O'Toole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peter O'Toole. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A Moment of Charm from Peter O'Toole

   Portraying alcohol-and-self-loathing suffused rake and actor Alan Swann in Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year is one of the comic highlights of Peter O'Toole's storied career. One can feel the dissolute manner in which he makes charm and manipulation his emotional armour against the world with every offhand riposte and flash of naughtiness; this arresting appearance, in which he seemed to make his co-stars genuinely hang on to his every utterance, locked him in for one of his many Oscar runner-up moments

   Whilst the comedy sequences do much to highlight O'Toole's gifts of physicality, timing and an exceedingly delicious gift for dry delivery, this destructive, difficult dandy would be ultimately forgettable were it not for an emotional core that is clichéd enough for me to avoid discussing in detail (a wounded heart, a desire to escape genuine responsibility, irritation with drinks served at room temperature, etc.), but is necessary to make certain the audience cares for his ending as well as his slipshod journeying throughout the conversations, appearances, negotiations and set pieces (two standouts: the impromptu abseil off the side of a tall apartment block using a retractable fire hose, and the glorious bit of impromptu swash and buckle at the end when Swann stops searching for the hero inside and puts his madness to good use) that make up his character arc. There is also wonderful support from the requisite foil, Mark Linn-Baker, and the surprisingly endearing romance between his Benjy and Jessica Harper's K.C. Downing - even this cynic has to smile when he finally wins her affections, over a projector reel and a box of popcorn

   No small entry into this luminary's canon, My Favourite Year, although more indebted to Errol Flynn for inspiration than O'Toole's personal indelicacies, nevertheless draws upon his idiosyncratic behaviours and vulnerabilities for its pathos, channelling them into the myopic mischief of its lead character the rest of the time. If Russell Brand were actually singularly gifted, he might be counted on for a remake, even if that is the worst kind of filmic idea: the remake as vehicle for a bubbling under performer of debatable talent. Besides, not everyone is blessed with that which, for all his faults, helped make a star out of a flawed yet brilliant man like Peter O'Toole:


Sunday, 11 April 2010

It's Peter O'Toole Sunday

“Oh, it’s painful seeing [film] all there on the screen, solidified, embalmed. I love the theatre, because it's the art of the moment. I’m in love with ephemera and I hate permanence. Acting is making words into flesh. And I love classical acting, because you need the vocal range of an opera singer, the movement of a ballet dancer and the ability to act - as you turn your whole body into the musical instrument on which you play. It's more than behaviourism, which is what you get in the movies. Chrissake, what are movies anyway? Just fucking moving photographs - that’s all. But the theatre! Ah, there you have the impermanence that I love. It’s a reflection of life somehow. It’s… it’s like… building a statue of snow”

   Very possibly history's most feted Academy Award bridesmaid - honorary conferment notwithstanding - Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is in many ways a great man. Even his middle names fortify this assertion

   An aesthete with a mental repository for each of the Shakespearean sonnets and the proclivities for liver degradation and mental abuse, O'Toole habitually welded self-destruction to self-expressive talent. As a role model starring in the cautionary tale of his own life, he is near peerless, particularly as he has made it as far as his late 70s, subverting the traditional early existence failure of the likes of Basquiat, Dean and Beardsley

   Mercurial, ingenious, naughty, natty and soaked in esprit and other spirits. Sober conservative style sported by one with little other attuning to sobriety for a great deal of his life. I'd have demanded him for a godfather if the possibility was forthcoming. Apparently, he once spirited valuable earrings out of Egypt through a drug mule-esque concealment within his foreskin

   Such a dissembler may not be instantly apparent as an inspiration but for the right mind, fault and positives can be discerned - one only has to ponder our enduring appreciation for Capitalism, ultra violence and McDonald's

   I'm on the side of the man with the self awareness to visualise a career and a future beyond his own damage, the raconteur who named his biographies Loitering With Intent, the star whose aspect of disreputability saturates his garments of such propriety but remains so far above a mere lounge lizard by dint of ability. Who needs a perfect gentleman?

"I'm the most gregarious of men and love good company, but never less alone when alone"