Some of you may remember a couple of months ago the hashtag above going around. It asked what were your seven favorite films of all time.
I couldn’t do it. I could not name just seven films. My tastes are so far ranging that to just name seven is a disservice to all the other films I’ve seen or not seen. Sure, “Casablanca” will always be up there, but what of all the James Bond movies I love?
So today, I want to revise that hashtag. I will be giving you #Seven Films – but of different actors, actresses, and genres.
I’ll begin with one of the greatest actors of our time, one who was nominated for a record eight Oscar nominations…and failed to win one of them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mr. Peter O’Toole.
At one of the most popular, as well as hell raising, British Actors of the 1960’s until his death in 2013, O’Toole rarely failed to captivate his audience. I’m sure the blueness of his eyes helped his appeal, for his eyes were one of his many acting tools, and one which I love to watch in his movies.
In no particular order, I will begin with his first Oscar-nominated performance, and his most famous, the title role in “Lawrence of Arabia”. Based on the writings and exploits of the real-life T.E. Lawrence, O’Toole shines in this biopic. The scene that stands out for me is when he has been captured by the Turks and they release him. The screen shows his face, and his eyes show the horror the character has endured.
My next favorite of O’Toole’s is a comedy he did with Audrey Hepburn. “How to steal a Million” is a movie based in Paris, with O’Toole posing as a thief to help Miss Hepburn steal a statue. A fun romp.
O’Toole became one of the rare actors to be nominated for a role they had already played in another movie when he played King Henry II in “A Lion in Winter” opposite another Hepburn, this time Katherine. She won the Oscar, he didn’t.
By the way, the other movie where he played Henry II? That was “Becket” opposite Richard Burton. O’Toole received a nomination for that performance as well.
After an illness slowed him a bit in the late 70’s, O’Toole was back in a big way with his role as a director in “The Stuntman”. His Eli was crafty, devious, and larger than life. It was a great role for Peter.
His last nominated film was in 2006, four years after winning an honorary Oscar for life achievement. “Venus” gives us O’Toole playing an aging actor and his fascination with the younger granddaughter of one of his friends. There is a poignancy to his performance, while not his last, is one of his best. He lost the actor to someone performing in a biopic. Ironic.
I have saved my ultimate favorite for the last – Peter O’Toole as Alan Swan in “My Favorite Year”. This is a gem of a film where the script, direction, casting and action all come together as a present to the filmgoer. O’Toole played a slightly heightened version of Errol Flynn, using real film clips of past O’Toole films with a one done just for the film. The most telling moment for me is right at the moment the 2nd act becomes the third. It starts the with a close-up of O’Toole as Alan Swan in the back of a car. He is watching the daughter he knows about but never met as she is riding her bike around her neighborhood. I can’t help but watch his eyes. There is no dialogue, but the scene speaks volumes. If you haven’t seen this film, find it, watch it, cherish it.
In the original “Casino Royale”, released around 1967, O’Toole has a brief cameo in Peter Sellers torture hallucination scene. O’Toole is part of a bagpipe band. Not well known, but Peter O’Toole actually knew how to play the bagpipes. How’s that for a party favor?
Don’t forget to visit my shop where I’ve linked many of the films mentioned here!