Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Farewell to Peter O’Toole

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Peter O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia"

The first time I saw “Lawrence of Arabia” was on a small black & white tv screen. It didn’t matter that it was a widescreen epic with sweeping desert panoramas… it was electrifying, even on that small screen. Seeing the film later very large at the Ontario Place Cinesphere was breathtaking. But O’Toole’s performance was just as gripping on the small screen as the large.

Peter O’Toole was always astounding. Whether young and beautiful or old and crochety, O’Toole’s performance in every film, good or bad, was simply transcendent. He was a working actor. He did play in many films, some sublime, others atrocious. Whether committing a caper with Audrey Hepburn, or imprisoning Katherine Hepburn, Peter O’Tool was always entertaining.

Some personal favorites include:
Peter O'Toole - "The Lion In Winter"

I disagreed with him when he chose to publicly badmouth the director and the movie Troy, as I found the film to be awesome, and possibly even the equal of “Lawrence.” Of course, Peter O’Toole was the fresh faced young star of the earlier epic, and merely a supporting character character actor in this one.  Still, O’Toole’s Priam was dead on, but then, any time he stepped in front of a camera, he was.   Even singing in Man of La Mancha. In fact, I might just re-watch Troy tonight.

Years ago my friend (who shall remain nameless for his own protection) worked with Peter O’Toole on a Canadian tv movie.  Although my friend couldn’t sneak me in to meet the man, he smuggled out bits and pieces of Peter O’Toole for me… the remains of his toothpaste tube, a cigarette butt, and some actual Peter O’Toole hair trimmings, swept from the studio floor.

The Stunt Man Tag line: “If God could do the tricks that we can do, he’d be a happy man.”

“The Stunt Man” came out when we were in college. As film students, we were all blown away by the mysterious, crazed, brilliant, and above all, omnipotent director, Eli Cross.

“I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star!”

— “My Favorite Year”

O’Toole himself easily qualified as both, and his brilliant portrayal of the Errol Flynnesque character helped make “My Favorite Year” wonderful; the best kind of comedy, played across different levels, all of them brilliant.

He will be missed.


Image Credit:
Peter O’Toole as T.E.Lawrence, Wikipedia public domain image: screen capture from uncopyrighted movie trailer for “Lawrence of Arabia”

O’Toole as King Henry in “The Lion In Winter Publicity Photo in the Public Domain ~ also from Wikipedia

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