Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Hopkins’

Peter O'Toole Lion in  WinterI was saddened to discover yesterday that Peter O’Toole had died over the weekend  in London at the age of 81.   He was definitely a favorite of mine.   The Irish-born actor was famous for his partying and brawling alongside his longtime chum Richard Harris, but first and foremost was legend on the stage and on the screen, casting a magnificent presence into all his roles.   And what great roles they were-  the ethereal Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia,  his comic twist as Allan Swann in My Favorite Year and  my favorites, two times as King Henry II in Beckett and in The Lion In Winter.

O’Toole holds a dubious record , being the most nominated best actor ( 8 times) without ever winning the Oscar.  I can’t fault most of the winning choices in the years that he lost.  Most were incredible performances such as Marlon Brando in 1972’s The Godfather, Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird in 1962, Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady in 1964, John Wayne in True Grit in 1969, Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull in 1980, and Ben Kingsley in Gandhi in 1982.  All of these are legendary roles.  Even his loss to Forrest Whitaker in 2006’s The Last King of Scotland is understandable.

No, the one where his performance was by far the greatest of that year (and most others in my opinion) was in 1968 when he portrayed  Henry II in The Lion in Winter.  He lost to Cliff Robertson in Charly, which was a great role and a fine movie, the film version of Flowers For Algernon.  I take nothing away from Cliff Robertson but O’Toole’s portrayal was one for the ages, matched as he was with Katherine Hepburn  and a young Anthony Hopkins.  It’s a film that I cannot help but watching whenever it comes on.  O’Toole is mesmerizing in that film, just dominating the screen.  He was truly the Lion in that film.

I think I’ll watch it again today just to see him roar once more.

Here’s a taste:



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Sometimes when you think about what you might write down on a list of your favorite movies there are some that evade your memory until you see it again and, like a desert flower, blooms again in your mind.

Such is the case with 84 Charing Cross Road.

It was on TCM last night and we flipped it on just to glimpse a few moments and ended up watching the whole thing.  I was immediately reminded of how much I like the film.

From 1987, it’s a movie about books and the written letter.  Hardly an action-filled two hours.  It’s the true story of writer Helene Hanff and her 20 year correspondence with a London bookshop, Marks and Co., located at 84 Charing Cross Road.  In 1949, Hanff an aspiring and struggling NY playwright responded a small classified ad from the bookseller.  She was seeking obscure British literature and was unable to locate her desired works in shops.  The movie follows the correspondence between Hanff over the next 20 years with the staff of the shop and how they effected each other’s lives with small acts of kindness and humor.  Hanff never made the trip to London until after the manager she primarily corresponded with had died and the shop had closed.

It’s a small quiet film that celebrates two things that are racing to obscurity- books and the posted letter.  Just a lovely and charming film.

The great Anne Bancroft stars in the film as Hanff and as usual, is wonderful.  I have had a longtime crush on Anne Bancroft to the point that when I think of Mel Brooks I don’t think of his great movies but instead find myself thinking what a lucky bastard he was to have married Anne Bancroft.   It also stars Anthony Hopkins as Frank Doel, the main man at the bookshop and Judi Dench as his wife.

If you love the feel of an old book and still get excited when you receive a hand-written note,  you most likely will enjoy this film.  It remains one of my sometimes forgotten favorites.

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