Donald Wolfit

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Becket Review


Essential
Oscar trivia hounds probably know that Peter O'Toole is one of only four actors to receive Best Actor nods for playing the same character in two different films (we'll leave it to you and the Internet to figure out the other three). The first of these was for playing King Henry II in 1964's Becket. (The second would come when he reprised the role four years later in The Lion in Winter.) And while his performance is Oscar-worthy, it is only part of what makes the film a delectable slice of English history.

It's the mid-12th century and Normans have controlled England and its resident Saxons for two generations. The latest Norman leader, Henry II, has employed a Saxon, Thomas Becket (Richard Burton) to be his unofficial right-hand man. When he decides to make the title official, appointing Becket as chancellor, it only makes the already jealous Norman nobles and clergy angrier. When he goes even further and decides to quell an unruly church by appointing Becket as archbishop, it seems the nobles and clergy might revolt, but Henry finds that it is Becket, suddenly torn between his duty to King as chancellor and to God as archbishop, from whom he has the most to fear.

Continue reading: Becket Review

Room At The Top Review


Extraordinary
Watch a scene at random from Room at the Top and you might think you've stumbled upon a garden-variety romance, what with its parlor-room confessions of love and lingering cigarette breaks. But give it a minute or two, waiting for Laurence Harvey (our favorite Manchurian assassin) to get his groove on and you'll realize what a monstrous film this truly is. Harvey plays a middle-class accountant(!) who decides there is "room at the top" for even him -- and so he sets about wooing the local business leader's daughter. Meanwhile, he's also having his way with a considerably older woman (Simone Signoret, who won an Oscar for her role) on the side. Creepy, perverse, and inimitable, this film has withstood 45 years of changing social values and will easily take another 45 more. For 1959, this film was decades ahead of its time and deserves a much wider audience than it ever received back then. Seek it out; you won't be disappointed.
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