ICFIFC: Peter O’Toole

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Monday, December 16, 2013

ICFIFC: Peter O’Toole

Peter James O'Toole (2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) was an Irish actor.  He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at the Bristol Old Vic and with the English Stage Company, before making his film debut in 1959.

He achieved stardom playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) for which he received his first Academy Award nomination.  He received seven further Oscar nominations – for Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006) – and holds the record for the most Academy Award acting nominations without a win.  He won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA and an Emmy, and was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2003.

He also has a number of movie credits that fall under the purview of this here site, two of which I will be discussing tonight.

 

Creator (1985)

  • Genre: Comedy – Romance – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Ivan Passer
  • Produced:
    • Stephen J. Friedman 
    • Charles Mulvehill
  • Written: Jeremy Leven (Novel and Screenplay)
  • Starring: Peter O'Toole, Mariel Hemingway, Vincent Spano, Virginia Madsen, David Ogden Stiers, John Dehner, Karen Kopins, Kenneth Tigar, Elsa Raven, Lee Kessler
  • Music: Sylvester Levay
  • Cinematography: Robbie Greenberg
  • Editing: Richard Chew
  • Studio:
    • Kings Road Entertainment 
    • Universal Pictures
  • Distributed:
    • Universal Pictures  
    • Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment  
    • Home Box Office Home Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 20 September 1985
  • Running Time: 107 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

This romantic, melancholy twist on the Frankenstein formula stars Peter O'Toole as Professor Harry Wolper, a lonely eccentric who has dedicated decades of research to cloning his long-dead wife Lucy from a culture of living tissue.  To this end, he enlists the services of likeable Graduate assistant Boris (Spano), who is initially baffled by the professor's endless rants about God, Science and "The Big Picture."  After Wolper posts bills seeking a human egg donor, his wish is granted by the vivacious young Meli (Hemingway), in whom the professor soon discovers a more willing convert to his grand design... and perhaps a love more immediate and real than the one he lost.  Boris eventually manages to come around to "The Big Picture" himself when Wolper points him in the direction of another graduate, Barbara (Madsen).  Despite opting for a platonic relationship to better determine if they are ideally matched, Boris and Barbara soon fall deeply in love, realizing that they are soul-mates as the professor had predicted. 

Tragedy strikes, however, when a brain hemorrhage renders Barbara comatose, and Wolper's nemesis Dr. Sid Kuhlenbeck (Stiers) persuades the university to shut down Harry's private cloning laboratory.  Meli forces Wolper to choose between her love and his misplaced longing for his dead wife... and his answer is suddenly made clear when he witnesses Boris's heartfelt determination to bring his own true love back to the land of the living.  Written by Jeremy Leven (based on his own novel), this is a flawed but engaging comedy which proves that a well-written story can incorporate traditional science fiction elements as more than a mere plot device and actually enhance the humanity of the characters.

 

Phantoms (1998)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi – Thriller
  • Directed: Joe Chappelle
  • Produced:
    • Laurie Borg 
    • Enrique Cerezo 
    • Dean R. Koontz 
    • Yoji Kurokami 
    • Steven A. Lane 
    • Michael Leahy 
    • Richard Potter 
    • Robert Pringle 
    • Andrew Rona 
    • Joel Soisson 
    • Bob Weinstein 
    • Harvey Weinstein
  • Written: Dean R. Koontz (Novel and Screenplay)
  • Starring: Peter O'Toole, Rose McGowan, Joanna Going, Liev Schreiber, Ben Affleck, Nicky Katt, Clifton Powell
  • Music: David C. Williams
  • Cinematography: Richard Clabaugh
  • Editing: Randy Bricker
  • Studio:
    • Miramax International  
    • Dimension Films  
    • Fuji Creative  
    • NEO Motion Pictures 
    • Raven House
  • Distributed:
    • Dimension Films  
    • Alliance  
    • Echo Bridge Home Entertainment  
    • Miramax Films
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 23 January 1998
  • Running Time: 96 minutes
  • Country:
    • United States  
    • Japan
  • Language: English

Jenny Paige (Going) brings her sister Lisa (McGowan) to the resort town of Snowfield, Colorado, a small ski resort village nestled in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains where Jenny works as a doctor.  Once in town, the sisters find no one around but a few corpses.  At first, their suspicions are that of a serial killer loose in town.  After finding the severed heads of the town baker and his wife in an oven, the sisters are found by Sheriff Bryce Hammond (Affleck), a former FBI agent haunted by the death of a boy he accidentally killed, and his deputies Stu Wargle (Schreiber) and Steve Shanning (Katt) who came to investigate the strange killings.

When they arrive at a nearby hotel, the group finds the writing of a victim on the mirror reading Timothy Flyte. Moments later, Shanning investigates a sound outside with the others finding only his gun, hat and shoes while the rest of him is gone.  Returning to the sheriff's office to request aid and create roadblocks around Snowfield, with Wargle revealed to be paranoid and immoral, the group gets a strange call before they are attacked by a strange moth-like creature that rips Wargle's face off prior to Bryce killing it.  After implying the creature could be the Devil as it went after him first, Lisa later encounters Wargle while in the bathroom before she and others find his body missing from the morgue.

At that time, Bryce's FBI associates find Timothy Flyte (O'Toole), an British academic who theorized the Ancient Enemy, an entity he generalizes as "chaos in the flesh" that periodically wiped out civilizations including that of the Mayas and the Roanoke Island colonists.  Joined by an Army commando unit to Snowfield with the Paige sisters and Bryce meeting with him, Flyte accompanies a third of the commando group to investigate with him the only survivor of an attack by a creature in the form of a dog that converted the others in his group.

With the other unit members systematically wiped out by it, the last member giving them a sample he vomited before turning into a puddle of black liquid, Flyte and the group learn the nature of the Ancient Enemy as it sent its converted drones, the Phantoms, to kill off the National Guard stations around the town.

Revealed to actually be an Earth-based amoebic life form that mimics its absorbed victims while gaining their knowledge, the Enemy creates Phantoms as temporary detachments for it to act through before absorbing them back into it.  Furthermore, due to its victims' thoughts about it, the Enemy has ultimately perceived itself as a god and had arranged everything so Flyte can assist the creature in revealing its existence to the world.  Flyte also learns that the creature's body is physiologically almost identical to crude oil, and could be killed by bacteria bioengineered to ingest fossil fuels.

However, other than the limited amount they have, the issue remains to get the bacteria into the nucleus that is within the main body of the Enemy.  But because the Ancient Enemy is extremely prideful, the group has Flyte call it all in its entirety as he played on its god complex by revealing their plan up front.  After its nucleus absorbs all the Phantoms while emerging from the sewers to assume a Mother Mass form, Bryce and the Paige sisters fire the bacteria into the Ancient Enemy before it retreats underground with Bryce in pursuit.

While the Paige sisters find themselves dealing with the Phantom in Wargle's image before Jenny seemingly kills it with a gun containing the bacteria, Bryce finds the Ancient Enemy as it assumed the form of the boy he accidentally killed during an FBI drug raid.  When the boy grabbed the last vial he had, Bryce shoots at it to expose the creature to its contents as it dies from the bacteria.

Though Bryce reassures Lisa and Jenny that it is gone, with the former stating the townsfolk are at peace, Flyte admits the Ancient Enemy did achieve its victory as he decides to tell the world what happened with a book based on what occurred in Snowfield.  Some time later, watching Flyte being interviewed about his book, "The Ancient Enemy", two bar patrons argue about the existence of alien life.  Hearing laughter nearby, the patrons turn to see Wargle as he asks them if they want to see something interesting.

By the way, Affleck is the bomb in this movie!

 

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