Friday Night Flicks honors O’Toole

Jan 02, 2014
Mark Lin Baker, standing in for a young Mel Brooks, is given the ride of his life by Peter O’Toole, standing in for Errol Flynn, in “My Favorite Year.”

Belfast — For its January offerings, Friday Night Flicks, Belfast Free Library's free film series, will pay homage to the great Peter O'Toole, who died Dec. 14 at the age of 81. All of the films will be presented free of charge at 7 p.m. in the Abbott Room of the library, 106 High St.

The first presentation, on Jan. 3, will be “My Favorite Year.” Benjy Stone (Mark Lin Baker) is a young writer on a comedy show in the early days of television. When drunken has-been movie star Alan Swann (O'Toole) is booked as a guest star, Benjy is assigned to keep him out of trouble. Together, they plunge into a series of zany adventures and teach each other lessons in life and love. In this 1982 film based on a true encounter between Errol Flynn and the young Mel Brooks, O'Toole gives one of his finest comedic performances.

“The Stunt Man” (Jan. 10) is the story of a young fugitive who finds refuge when he becomes a stunt man on a movie set … but the film’s eccentric director, played by O'Toole, may be more of a danger to him than the law. Pauline Kael called 1980’s “The Stunt Man” a virtuoso piece of kinetic moviemaking.

Widely considered one of the greatest movie epics of all time, “Lawrence of Arabia” was the film that made O'Toole an international star. Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif and Anthony Quinn join O'Toole in telling the story of the British officer who led the Arabs in their fight against the Turks during World War I. Because of the length of this 1962 film, it will be presented in two parts, Jan. 17 and 24.

Finally, on Jan. 31, O'Toole got the last of his eight Academy Award nominations for his role in the black comedy “Venus,” as a dying elderly actor who becomes involved with a much younger woman. As Andrew Sarris said of O'Toole's 2006 performance, “If indeed ‘Venus’ is his swan song, it resounds with a sweetly magnificent melody."

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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