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Take Five: Peter O'Toole, RIP.
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By Erich Vandussen
Erich Van Dussen's film reviews have been featured in newspapers and magazines, on the radio, and online for more than 20 years. He lives in the Finger Lakes region.
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Dec. 15, 2013 3:55 p.m.

Peter O’Toole, who died yesterday at 81, lived more years as a legend than not. That what comes of delivering your career-defining performance at age 29, when he stepped into David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (Lean’s third choice, after Marlon Brando and Albert Finney) and proceeded to set the bar for a couple of generations of filmmakers.
He did more than Lawrence, though – much more. If that film is #1 on everybody’s O’Toole list, here are numbers 2 through 6 on mine:
  • My Favorite Year (1982) – Richard Benjamin’s film looked back with sweet nostalgia to the days of 1950s live-TV variety shows and gave its star (above, with Mark Linn-Baker) a chance to look back on his own swashbuckling career.
  • The Stunt Man (1980) – As a megalomanical movie director, O’Toole brought a savage ruthlessness to a role that could easily have fallen into cliché.
  • The Ruling Class (1972) – Brilliantly satiric class warfare and a definitive comedic performance from O’Toole as an unhinged British royal.
  • Ratatouille (2007) – The actor, in the voice role of feared Parisian restaurant critic Anton Ego, brought gravitas to an already terrific film – as well as a monologue on the nature of criticism that everyone who’s ever written a review should commit to memory.
  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) – The movie itself was so-so (a musical remake of the far superior 1939 version) but O’Toole clicked in his performance as a Latin teacher whose life and career evolve over 40 years.
  • What is there to say about a man who set a record for earning the most Oscar nominations without a win? Who became as famous for his carousing as for his acting? Who always, always, always was the smartest thing about any film in which he appeared? Just this: rest in peace, sir. You've earned it.

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