Saturday, December 21, 2013

"No prisoners!" Peter O'Toole (1932 - 2013)

When my students ask me what my favorite movie is, I have trouble picking just one. I usually name my top three - and Lawrence of Arabia is one of the three.

Recently, a student asked me to list the best actors in film history - and I started by saying that easily, in my opinion, the single best performance by a male lead in any film is Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Easily!

Beyond Lawrence, O'Toole's career was a spotty thing - some glowing moments here and there, but not another role like Lawrence.

Lord Jim (1965) as well as O'Toole's performance in that film are much criticized, but I love the thing. I love Conrad, Lord Jim is my favorite novel of all time, the film captures the look and atmosphere of Conrad's world, and O'Toole's performance captures Jim's torment and obsession with redemption - with wonderful echoes of his performance as the tormented, obsessive Lawrence.

Farewell, old chap.

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