The parting glass: R.I.P., Peter O’Toole

Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn in "A Lion In Winter."

Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn in “A Lion In Winter.”

Peter O’Toole went west today. Some called him a ham, but damn — “The Lion In Winter” is and will always be one of my favorite films, alongside “My Favorite Year” and, of course, “Lawrence of Arabia.”

“Lion” was based on a Broadway play by James Goldman, and it is a darkly funny bit of work, with Anthony Hopkins, Nigel Terry and Timothy Dalton chipping in. I prefer it to “Lawrence,” which The New York Times dismissed as a “huge, thundering camel-opera” in a 1962 review (I’d call that a little harsh).

Steven Spielberg had a different take. He called it “the first film I saw that made me want to be a moviemaker.” It made me want to read “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” by T.E. Lawrence, and if you’ve never picked up a copy, I recommend it to you.

The film was restored, laboriously, for its 50th anniversary, and the book has likewise been abridged and restored. Alas, O’Toole could not be returned to youth and vigor. He will be missed.

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4 Responses to “The parting glass: R.I.P., Peter O’Toole”

  1. Steve O Says:

    Amazing story teller. Heard him talk about one of the huge scenes from LoA. Cracks me up just thinking about it.

  2. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    He didn’t like working at a newspaper either. I really enjoyed his voice work on Ratatouille.

  3. md anderson Says:

    “Lion in Winter” is one of my favorites as well. As much for Hepburn’s part as O’Tooles. They chew up the scenery together and it’s fabulous.

    One of my favorite lines goes something like: A character makes a comment about how everyone is a barbarian or some such and Hepburn’s (as Eleanor of Aquitaine) line is “It’s the 12th century. OF COURSE we’re barbarians.”

  4. Dale Says:

    Only now “Its the 21st century. OF COURSE we’re barbarians.” See previous story.

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