March 24th, 2007


Becket blatherings by this boy

I've just seen an acting feat of Peter O'Toole's: it's possible to play a character of deep feeling and shallow thought.

I'm home from Becket (1964) at Cinema 21; I'm glad I went. It's a film both elegant and charmingly sly, and funnier than I was expecting. As many of the reviews have pointed out, O'Toole (as Henry II) and his friend Richard Burton (as Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket) clearly relished playing off of each other.

I liked how O'Toole plays Henry II as a man with lusty appetites who seems to be analyzing those appetites from a slight distance; he's not quite clinical when discussing how well-shaped a mistress's thigh is, for instance, but the very fact that he's discussing the shape of her thigh as if it's on display shows a strange almost-but-not-quite detachment...or as if, maybe, he can't quite articulate why he enjoys what he enjoys. Again, that interesting contradiction of "deep feeling and shallow thought." I'm not sure how well I'm explaining. It's late. But that idea struck me. (And by the way, does John Gielgud as King Louis VII smile through his entire role?) But anyway, a good, satisfying film.

Edited To Add, 3/26/07: Here's what Mike Russell had to say about the film.
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    Alex North's score to "The Agony and the Ecstasy"
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