Alphabetical Movie – The Lion in Winter
Scenery chewing is a lost art in cinema. Many fine actors work in film these days but so few of them just act the hell out of movies any more. The days of the larger than life performances are relegated to villains in Die Hard movies.
The Lion in Winter is filled with scenery chewing. Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn, of course, spend the entire film trying to out act one another. Both of them fail. When Anthony Hopkins isn’t able to draw attention away from them, you will marvel at the amount acting that is going down.
The days of O’Toole, Richard Burton and Charlton Heston are behind us now. Daniel Day Lewis is our new acting icon and while he is great, he disappears into his character in a way that is impressive but nowhere near as enjoyable to watch.
Given we’ve already had a Brit play Lincoln, it is no stretch to think of other Brits, like O’Toole, having their shot at American’s favorite President. Just imagine O’Toole and Hepburn playing Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln! How different that would have been.
Lincoln would have strode confidently to the balcony of the white house and declared “I’m going to free the slaves!” Mary would have shouted from behind him “not if I have anything to say about it, you won’t!”
They would have argued about it for a while and then they would have come perilously close to making love before their bombastic son Robert, played by Lawrence Olivier, strode in and declared that he was going to join the army whether they wanted him to or not and he didn’t give a damn who knew. The mood having been completely broken, the two would retreat to separate corners. Him to lecture his cabinet in alternating whispered and shouted sentences and her, we must assume, to have sex with Spencer Tracy.
Him or Howard Hughes.
Now I realize that this sort of thing isn’t particularly historically accurate but when you get a bunch of people on the screen with the sole purpose of having them engage in a sort of American Idol of acting, historical accuracy is irrelevant.
Hell, why not change it up a little more and having Abe and Mary arguing about freeing the slaves while Robert negotiates with Jefferson Davis directly. Davis, recognizing the political expedience of freeing the slaves in a way that would make the King of…um…President of the United States look really bad, agrees. I would imagine that he and Robert also have a clandestine homosexual relationship.
It just seems natural.
So then Davis who, by the way, is played by Paul Scofield, tries to free the slaves before Lincoln can.
But Lincoln gets wind of this plan and he shoots Davis in the back of the head when Davis is attending a play. He then tells Robert that he is well aware of the entire plot and if Robert even tries to go through with it, his career will be ruined by a series of incriminating photographs.
Mary, furious that Abe has don this to her son would…
I think you get this idea how this would go.
I miss that style of acting. I really do.
I’m not saying Lincoln would have been a better film had the acting been more in line with The Lion in Winter.
I am suggesting it might have been more fun.