Robin Williams (1951-2014)

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Many significant film personalities have passed away since I started this website.  I have only written about two of them: Roger Ebert and Peter O’Toole.  I forewent a post about Philip Seymour Hoffman (perhaps the best actor of the last decade), as well as Joan Fontaine (whose roles in Letter from an Unknown Woman and Rebecca have lasted with me as few roles ever have).  I also didn’t write about the great Shirley Temple Black, which was perhaps my biggest mistake, because her service not only to cinema but to the United States of America and its citizens was invaluable.  I also didn’t write about the master-critic Andrew Sarris, the father of auteur theory. Continue reading

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Peter O’Toole (1932-2013)

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The “last of the hard-drinking hellraisers” is dead, as was written December 14 by The Telegraph writer Robbie Collin.  Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and others defined a generation of British actors hailing from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England with their mix of imposing acting dexterity and their hell-raising personal lives.  Besides Richard Harris—perhaps—the most significant of these British hell-raisers was Peter O’Toole.  His significance was not born merely of his controversial life off the stage and away from the screen, but because he, above all others, was the greatest on that stage, and on that screen.  No actor in history has matched his volatility as a character actor, nor have they ever been able to meet him in his potent monologues.  There was something about his diction, a perfect blend of Irishman and Shakespearean reciter, that complimented his intensity of gaze, his angular expressions, and his physical simplicity.  His roles were a true masks of self, yet, somehow, reflections of that bombastic and flamboyant personality were found in each one of those roles.  For O’Toole, his own self was an integral part of every character he portrayed.  Perhaps this is best shown in own appraisal of his performance in Lord Jim—a role many considered a failure: “I was so wrong for the picture,” he said. “When I play reflective types, I tend to reflect myself right off the screen.” Continue reading

Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

 

Some people really changed my life when it came to movies.  I am forever indebted to my parents for helping me love and appreciate the occasional old-Hollywood film.  We watched Scrooge, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas; there was always a John Wayne movie available to watch; and in my teenage years, my father made sure to help me understand how cool Cary Grant and Gary Cooper were.  But, for the most part, my development as a fan of film was based solely on my own research, my own experience and my own evolving opinion. Continue reading