When I was halfway through writing this article, actor Peter O’Toole passed away. He serves as yet another example of just how pointless, asinine, vapid, and meaningless the Academy Awards are. Rightfully nominated a zillion times, O’Toole is in the fine company of such Academy Award losers as Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Richard Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stanley Kubrick. The Academy did eventually give O’Toole its condescending honorary Oscar, as it did to Chaplin, but that’s a mere smokescreen to mask their own artlessness.
O’Toole’s performances ranged from great to quirky and interesting in films like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Beckett (1964), Lord Jim (1965), Night of the Generals (1967), The Lion in Winter (1967), Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969), Murphy’s War (1971), The Ruling Class (1972), Man Friday (1975), Zulu Dawn (1979), The Stunt Man (1980), Masada (1981), My Favorite Year (1982), The Last Emperor (1987), and Venus (2006). Naturally, as prolific as he was, he had his share of embarrassing bombs: Caligula (1979), Supergirl (1984), and, most of all, Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage (2008). His last film is the soon to be released Katherine of Alexandria (2014).
The Ruling Class was, almost immediately, a cult hit. It earned O’Toole yet another Oscar nomination, but he lost out to Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972). Although The Godfather is a better film and Brando’s performance was superb, I would stand with a tiny minority in arguing that O’Toole should have won. Continue reading