"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: peter o’toole

Million Dollar Movie

large

My father was a Sid Caesar man. Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour trumped Benny, Berle, and Gleason.

So when My Favorite Year came out, Dad was eager to take his children to see it. I was eleven years old and we went one Saturday afternoon to the Paramount. I always loved that theater because it was underground. Dad fell asleep during the movie but my brother, sister and I enjoyed ourselves. It didn’t matter that Dad passed out (he was still boozin’ then). The subject meant something to him. The movie was funny and sentimental. And O’Toole was nominated for an  Oscar.

And Dad woke up for the finale:

[Photo Via: Cinema Treasures]

Million Dollar Movie

I remember being fascinated by this movie poster when I was a kid. It was cool and sinister. Wasn’t until years later that I saw the movie, which remains overlooked, but is now available on Blue Ray DVD. Dig this Q&A with Peter O’Toole in the New York Times:

Q: How is it that “The Stunt Man” was as well-reviewed and widely nominated as it was, and yet played in so few theaters?

A.Don’t forget this is a long time ago, and I wasn’t very au fait with everything that was going on in any way. But apparently the guy who put up the bread, the money, I think he was a supermarket builder or something. [Melvin Simon, the producer, was a shopping mall developer.] He had bought the script and the entire idea on the fact that it was an art film, and it made sense on his balance books to lose money. I think eventually it crept into 11 cinemas, which is a bit shameful. [After a successful test run for "The Stunt Man" in Seattle, 20th Century Fox picked up distribution rights for the film but ordered only about 300 prints.]

Q.Was it disappointing to have put in so much effort into something that was not seen by a large number of viewers, or is that just the way it goes sometimes?

A.It’s almost the nature of my line of work. [chuckles] I began in the theater, don’t forget. I was with the Classical Repertory Company, the Bristol Old Vic, and we did 12 plays a year. Over a period of four years you can imagine the number of times one had the highest hopes [laughs] and you find you’re playing to – as the old actors used to say – Mr. and Mrs. Wood. Which meant nobody was in the audience but the seats. I’m used to it, but it was a disappointment.

For more on O’Toole check out Gay Talese’s 1963 Esquire profile, “Peter O’Toole on the Ould Sod.”

The best of them won't come for money; they'll come for me…

Happy birthday to one of the true heavyweights of stage and screen – Peter O’Toole turns 78 today.  O’Toole is not only an exceptional actor, he’s also a true “star” in a way we rarely see anymore. He may have been riffing on Errol Flynn in his brilliant performance in My Favorite Year, but it was clear there was more than a little of himself in Alan Swann too.

O’Toole’s sometimes boozy, seemingly always cheerful, outsized personality and his talk show appearances are as legendary as his performances (remember him riding a camel onto the stage for David Letterman?). Nominated 8 times for the Best Actor Oscar, he’s never won, but did accept an honorary Academy Award for his body of work (which he initially refused). Here’s a snippet from one of those nominated performances, as movie director Eli Cross in Richard Rush’s 1980 film The Stunt Man:

Since attempting to watch Lawrence of Arabia at work seems like a bad idea, and its too early to raise a pint to the old Irishman, why not mark the occasion by reading Gay Talese’s terrific 1963 Esquire profile of O’Toole.

O'Toole and Richard Burton in Becket (1964)

Happy birthday, Peter. Let’s hope we see you up on the silver screen again soon.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver