Becketi enjoys the least likely of all easements : the best cast possible. It's not a matter of some contextual this-or-that, "the best cast then working" or "the best cast money could buy" or -- no, none of that. It's my considered opinion that Burton (not here, but see Equus) is the best lead actor cinema ever produced. Ever produced. We even had a session yesterday in the harem over it ; the problem with whatever kneejerk alternatives you've been culturally conditioned to produce, Clark Gable, Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner etcetera is that they're two bit superficial nothings, they're only male leads in the sense Sinatra's a singer : because you're watching them as such, and paying a ticket to do so. On their own power they're as much male leads as advertising copy's reading material. Stronger alternatives are really support miscast, major minors like say Keitel (but specifically in Mean Streets, and there only) or Byrne -- in Miller's Crossing. The truly strong alternatives, Paul Newman, E. G. Robinson, James Cagney and... well, that's it. That's it! They're strong alright, but... what can I tell you, not strong enough. Doesn't seem so, to my eye, right now. What can I say ?
O'Toole is easily the best male support ever seen, I don't expect this to be controversial to any degree, who the fuck else, De Niro ? Bruce Willis ? We're talking actors, remember, not gimmicks. Support actors, not "support guys the producer's niece knew".
Do you know what Peter Glenville does, with the best cast possible ? Let me tell you : he makes easily the most ridiculous piece of anachronic ignorant idiocy conceivable. Do you know it actually includes (very visibly machine-milled) fencing around church spaces ? In the 1180s ?! What, some of the saints were in fucking jail, statutory rape, what the fuck !?ii They actually have the imbecile, inenarable
audacity stupidity to include Delacroix' painting of Charles d'Orleans exposing a whore -- notwithstanding the eight full centuries separating Romantism from Becket's medieval devotionism (or, for that matter, that Charles was French not English ie the other fucking side in this great tale stupidly retold).
There's so much work done on Becket, why the fuck would these morons American all over it ?! Sad, shameful, miserable verguenza. Do you even know how Becket's conversion occurs ? No ? Well, me either, it happened off-cam, one cut he's this way, the next cut he's that way, they must've accidentally left the titular part of the footage on the mixing room floor.
- 1964, by Peter Glenville, with Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole. [↩]
- This is a big deal, I suppose I have to say explicitly, because the historical character died in a very particular manner : some armed people came to kill him, his familiars bolted down the church door to protect him, and he bid them open it. Because it's "not right to make the house of God a fortress", you understand me ? Nobody has the authority to close that thing, I don't give a shit that some "pastor" is or isn't whatever the hell, he "organized the fundriser" whereby the church was built. He didn't conduct a fundriser for hookers and blow, to do with whatever the fuck he wants afterwards ; he didn't say "give me money to buy dildos". Therefore it's not his fucking church, to come up with "opening hours" for.
Yet this, as self-obviously self-obvious it might be to "those barbarians" living "in the dark ages", is apparently quite opaque to the "aware" and "empathic" sad lot now befouling God's green creation with their unwelcome presence, namely intolerably lowly you. [↩]