Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Best Actor 1972: Peter O'Toole in the Ruling Class

Peter O'Toole received his fifth nomination of eight for playing Jack Gurney the 14th Earl of Gurney in the Ruling class. The ruling class is a less than subtle satire of the English upper class. The overall tone of the film is all over the place and the only part of it that really works is the acting.


O'Toole first arrives in the film as a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of Grandeur. He specifically thinks that he is God so much that he spends much of his time pretending to be crucified on a cross. O'Toole performance here is obviously not one the most subtle ones he is ever given. O'Toole usually plays characters who at least seem slightly insane but here it is full blown and all the time.

In the first part of the performance as Jesus he plays it oddly with strange motions, and mannerisms all the time. He is kind of funny here but most of the performance is just craziness that is not that incredible or laugh out loud funny. I do think he does a good job but this half of the performance is mostly one note, except when he is challenged about his perceptions. O'Toole reacts perfectly when he is being told he is not God his face in those scenes could not be better. His face is just pathetic in the right way in those scenes.

The second part where he no longer believes himself to be God is the best part of the performance. This is where he begins to believe he is Jack the Ripper. O'Toole here creates a delicate and in depth portrait of a man who has turned into a man of great darkness. His scenes where he speaks of how he once was are brilliant, as are when he makes his violent speech at the end. His transformation is brilliant and his two sides of the character are really the only interesting thing in the film, even if they are all part of the overly forced satire that the film is. For this O'Toole gets

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