Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time

Peter O’Toole: An Appreciation

The news appeared in front of me on Twitter.

Peter O’Toole had passed away.

He never won an Oscar.  I thought that odd, so I looked at who he lost to. It is quite a formidable group of actors.

When he was nominated for Lawrence of Arabia, he lost to Gregory Peck- To Kill A Mockingbird.

Two years later he was up for his role in Becket. (You need to see this one. His co-star was Richard Burton who was also nominated.)

They lost to Rex Harrison-My Fair Lady.

Four years later, The Lion In Winter.  He lost to Cliff Robertson-Charly.

The following year, Goodbye Mr. Chips. That year, John Wayne won for True Grit.

Three years later, The Ruling Class. He lost to Marlon Brando-The Godfather

Eight years passed before he was nominated again.  This time for The Stunt Man. He lost to Robert DeNiro-Raging Bull.

Two years later, My Favorite Year.  He lost to Ben Kingsley-Gandhi.

Twenty four years later he was nominated for his role in Venus.  He lost to Forest Whitaker-The Last King Of Scotland.

He was in some heady company during those years. Most of those losses were understandable. Who could argue against Brando, for example?  Wayne won what was considered a lifetime achievement award.

Just unfortunate timing on Mr. O’Toole’s part.

If you want to fully appreciate his range as an actor you really need to watch just one of his films.

My Favorite Year

He really nails his part of an aging actor forced by finances to try his hand at live television in the Fifties on a show loosely based on Your Show Of Shows.

The film, directed by Richard Benjamin, is a loving look at a week in the life of putting on a variety show.  We see the writers room, full of angst, anger, and humor.

One of those writers has the task of babysitting this week’s guest, Alan Swann played by O’Toole.

Swann is a drunk, broke womanizer. His time on the big screen has run its course.  As the week unfolds, he finds some happiness with the people who put the show on.

As a favor to his young handler, he visits the young man’s parents for a memorable meal.

The day of the show, he is informed it is live.  A meltdown ensues.


Finally he gets to put his swashbuckling moves to a real life use in a wonderful finale. As he accepts the audiences standing ovation, you see a wistful look on his face.

O’Toole brings everything he has learned as an actor to this performance.  The wonderful supporting cast carries him through to the end of the film.

Your assignment is to find this wonderful movie, grab your favorite beverage and enjoy a tour-de-force by Peter O’Toole.








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