One of the greatest actors has died at the age of 81. At home in both dramatic roles and in wacky comedies, I wrote an appreciation of his career when he retired last year so I won’t repeat myself. Peter Bradshaw provides a much fuller appreciation of a mercurial film and stage career in which he received eight Oscar nominations but failed to win any.
No one who has seen his debut in a major role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) will ever forget him or that film. While I loved much of O’Toole’s work, the film that I have watched several times is his dark comedy The Ruling Class (1972) in which he plays a schizophrenic who thinks that he is god and inherits his father’s title as an Earl, to the consternation of his grasping and scheming relatives. It is a brilliant film that ferociously mixes religion and class and provided him with an opportunity to show his range of abilities from gentle to dangerous sociopath. Here is one of the best scenes from that film.
Thank you, Peter O’Toole, for providing so much pleasure to so many.