best film: Lawrence of Arabia is the 12th best film of all-time according to my last update and a giant masterpiece. Lean’s epic is simply one of the most beautiful films of all-time, film’s greatest epic (though some could argue the godfather and 2001 and others are “epic” in genre to some extent), a biopic (bested only by Kane and Raging Bull) and an intense character study. That title character  is so perfectly captured by O’Toole.

best performance:  Lawrence of Arabia. O’Toole’s performance as T.E. Lawrence is one of the 10 best male performances of all-time. The performance has everything. O’Toole inhabits the ego (O’Toole has a bit of a ham quality to him in every role) and ambition the role calls for—the bravado of it.  It’s actually shocking how much confidence O’Toole exudes with this being his first archiveable film at the time. It’s nearly 4 hours and it contains O’Toole in early every scene.

stylistic innovations/traits: Peter O’Toole has a astonishingly high 8 academy award nominations and famously never won a competitive Oscar (I love Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird but the loss for Lawrence for O’Toole is a travesty). O’Toole played men of ego (kings (Becket and Lion in Winter), Errol Flynn (My Favorite Year), Lawrence, a man with a Christ complex (The Ruling Class). He only has 10 archiveable films. The case for O’Toole being closer to the top 25 or so is Lawrence and that he’s really quite spectacular in performances 2-7 (top 5 and includes The Stunt Man and How to Steal).  The knock against him is that he’s really a solo artist and not many of these films managed to make their respective years’ top 10. He seemed to be always chasing the showy role rather than being part of a great work. He shares that with his counterpart Richard Burton (another spectacular talent).

directors worked with:   Nobody more than once but he did work with Lean of course—and then also with Bertolucci, John Huston and Wyler

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Lawrence of Arabia
  2. The Lion in Winter
  3. The Ruling Class
  4. My Favorite Year
  5. Becket

Archiveable films

1962- Lawrence of Arabia
1964- Becket
1966- How to Steal a Million
1966- The Bible: In the Beginning…
1968- The Lion in Winter
1972- The Ruling Class
1980- The Stunt Man
1982- My Favorite Year
1987- The Last Emperor
2006- Venus