None Quite Like Him

Over the weekend Kathleen Geier offered a typically clear-eyed tribute to two film icons who passed away, Joan Fontaine and Peter O’Toole.

I do want to add my own brief note about O’Toole, one of my favorite actors from childhood. Lawrence of Arabia was the first movie with an intermission that I was allowed to see in its entirety (before that, I saw one-half of The Ten Commandments each year). Not too long after, however, when I discovered public television, I watched O’Toole memorable performance as Henry II (opposite Richard Burton’s title role) in Becket. And then one of the midnight movies I saw repeatedly during college was the musical film adaptation of the play The Ruling Class, in which O’Toole plays Jack Gurney, a paranoid schizophrenic member of the British aristocracy who thinks himself (serially) Jesus Christ, Jack the Ripper and finally the right-wing Lord he was born to become.

Here’s a snippet from The Ruling Class with O’Toole calling for a return to harsh corporal punishment in Britain:


Kathleen was right about something else: the Washington Monthly doesn’t specialize in cultural coverage, but when we do go in that direction–and she and I both do–it’s worth a tax-deductible donation if you can afford it.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.