Cinema's Original Angry Young Man
February 8, 2019 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Albert Finney has died. He was 82.

Albert Finney graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He broke through in cinema as the star of in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, a kitchen sink film about working-class dissilusionment. He portrayed Hercule Poirot in the 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express, which Agatha Christie regarded as the best performance of that character.

He turned down the title role in Lawrence of Arabia because he did not wish to sign a multi-picture contract, and received worldwide acclaim for the title role in Tom Jones. His iconic roles are too numerous to count, but a collection of clips reveals some of the depth.

Finney twice turned down official honours.
posted by gauche (46 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by nightrecordings at 9:02 AM on February 8


Still an artist with a Thompson.

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posted by whuppy at 9:04 AM on February 8 [11 favorites]


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posted by mikelieman at 9:10 AM on February 8


He also used his increased clout – and money – to supporting other British new wave figures, backing Lindsay Anderson’s radical If… and its follow-up O Lucky Man!, as well as Mike Leigh’s 1971 debut feature Bleak Moments.

O Lucky Man! is... different. And worth watching, so I'm adding "If" and "Bleak Moments" to my watch-list.
posted by mikelieman at 9:15 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


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posted by Gray Duck at 9:19 AM on February 8


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(That's for Albert Finney)

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(Those would be how many holes he put into Johnny Caspar's goons)
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:21 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Oh! Big Fish will be sadder now...but I can't help imagining all of the characters of Finney's career -- like Edward's friends in the movie -- walking through the line at Finney's wake this week, shaking hands, talking amongst themselves, and that makes me smile a little.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:22 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I remember him most for twisted role as a killer in Night Must Fall, which I saw on tv at a very young age. I was impressed, especially when it became clear at the end what the killer's particular mental problem was. I'll have to watch it again.
posted by King Sky Prawn at 9:24 AM on February 8


I've seen a few of his movies, but the one that stuck with me the most is The Dresser, with Tom Courtenay. I was surprised that Finney was still alive, because I'd assumed that he was very elderly like his character in that film... but he was only about forty-seven when he made it. Shit, that's younger than me! Acting, ladies and germs.

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posted by Halloween Jack at 9:26 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Albert Finney is the best part of everything he’s ever been in.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:27 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


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posted by Cash4Lead at 9:29 AM on February 8


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posted by jim in austin at 9:29 AM on February 8


I will remember Albert Finney as he truly was, with a Tommy Gun in his hands committing a murder spree to the soulful sounds of "Danny Boy." All while wearing a swanky crimson silk robe and chomping a cigar.
posted by Nelson at 9:31 AM on February 8 [11 favorites]


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posted by valkane at 9:32 AM on February 8


For me his signature role will always be his performance in Annie.

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posted by Fizz at 9:38 AM on February 8 [14 favorites]


He was great co-starring with Audrey Hepburn in the somewhat overlooked 1967 Stanley Donen romantic comedy Two for the Road.

Also, of all the actors who have played Ebenezer Scrooge on-screen, it's a toss-up as to which one had the worst singing voice: Albert Finney, Michael Caine, or Jim Backus. (Though I loved them all!)
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:45 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


He was one of those actors who made everything he was in better.

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posted by tzikeh at 9:49 AM on February 8


Nthing The Dresser. Hold the train.
posted by effluvia at 9:58 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Orient Express is one of my favorite vintage movies, in spite of all the 1970s warts and rough spots. It's one of the few versions that don't add unnecessary angst to Poirot. He playfully, sometimes gleefully interrogates the conspirators, changing his approach and demeanor to match their personalities and class status, provoking them into contradictions or subtextual revelations. He's alternately polite, belligerent, kind, cutting, admiring, and deferential as needed to get his subjects to reveal exactly what he wants, and then he closes the interview before they can dig themselves deeper. Because in the end, they have his sympathy and admiration.

It's a brilliant performance supported by a brilliant ensemble.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:00 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]



posted by bz at 10:16 AM on February 8


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posted by the sobsister at 10:25 AM on February 8


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posted by Splunge at 10:37 AM on February 8


I think I first saw him in The Dresser. And then in so many other films - Under the Volcano, Miller's Crossing, The Duellists, Tom Jones, Green Man. And heard him in Corpse Bride.

What a presence!

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posted by doctornemo at 10:37 AM on February 8


He portrayed Hercule Poirot in the 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express, which Agatha Christie regarded as the best performance of that character.

Noting that she never saw the David Suchet version.

But much love for Albert Finney, though. I watched the movie of "Under the Volcano" after reading the book last year (or was it 2017?) and he does as well as one could hope acting out an essentially unfilmable novel about interior struggle.
posted by atoxyl at 10:46 AM on February 8


🐟
posted by DigDoug at 11:11 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure I first saw him in Annie, and even then as a little kid who didn't know anything about acting, I could clearly see that he was Next Level. And I preferred his Poirot to all others.

His performance in The Dresser was simply as good as it gets.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:14 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


The Suchet version is one of the first that radically revises the conclusion, in much the same way that Dumas rewrote the end of Hamlet to send the queen to a nunnery.

It's not bad on its own, but the novel doesn't pass judgement on the conspiracy or discuss the moral philosophy of extrajudicial revenge.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:16 AM on February 8


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posted by lalochezia at 12:12 PM on February 8


seriously, if you haven't seen Tom Jones -- why not?

"we are all as God made us, some of us much worse"
posted by philip-random at 12:38 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


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posted by theora55 at 12:57 PM on February 8


The Suchet version is one of the first that radically revises the conclusion, in much the same way that Dumas rewrote the end of Hamlet to send the queen to a nunnery.

I was wasn't really talking about the best version of that book in particular, just making the slightly tedious point that Christie's opinion on the definitive portrayal of the character of Poirot predates one of the obvious top candidates.
posted by atoxyl at 12:59 PM on February 8


"Ghost of Christmas Past : I am the spirit whose coming was foretold to you.

Ebenezer Scrooge : You don't look like a ghost.

Ghost of Christmas Past : Thank you.

Ebenezer Scrooge : May I inquire more precisely who or what you are?

Ghost of Christmas Past : I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Ebenezer Scrooge : Long past?

Ghost of Christmas Past : No. Your past.

Ebenezer Scrooge : And what business brings you here?

Ghost of Christmas Past : Your welfare.

Ebenezer Scrooge : [scoffs] To be wakened by a ghost at one o'clock in the morning is hardly..."

Godspeed sweet prince.
posted by clavdivs at 1:10 PM on February 8


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posted by evilDoug at 1:41 PM on February 8


As much as I loved and respected him, I'll always think he was miscast in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

(Kids, never get too attached to a book without first finding out if it was made into a classic movie everyone else thinks is perfect.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:45 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


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posted by Lynsey at 2:04 PM on February 8


His Tom Jones closed with the first four lines of this Dryden poem from An Imitation of Horace:
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own;
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul, or rain or shine,
The joys I have possess'd, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power;
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:35 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


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posted by djseafood at 3:38 PM on February 8


i guess this means no bwaynos irees.



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posted by ovenmitt at 4:34 PM on February 8


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posted by Sphinx at 4:57 PM on February 8




RIP
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:56 PM on February 8


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posted by gudrun at 10:07 PM on February 8


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posted by heatvision at 3:39 AM on February 9


He starred in what I consider to be the most perfect movie-as-movie ever made, Gumshoe. It isn't a comedy or satire, really, isn't even much of a mystery.
It is the ur-The Big Lebowski, and, by being less, more.
posted by Chitownfats at 5:41 AM on February 9


I saw Tom Jones at a rep theatre. I remember being in line with my sister and jokingly saying to her, "Tom Jones...is this about the singer?" While I was waiting for my sister to get popcorn a heard a woman sitting near me saying "someone in the line thought this was about the *singer* . Can you imagine? Now I love Fielding but have you read Ricardson? oh I just love Clarissa..." (read this is in a very WASPy vaguely English accent of old Toronto's moneyed class...) I was studying preVictorian and Victorian novels at the time and all I could think of what a pretentious tool she was. and the whole movie is so unpretentious and fun.

I came away from that night with a complete love for Finney and I will check out some of the other movies mentioned in this thread.
posted by biggreenplant at 6:15 AM on February 9


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posted by LobsterMitten at 10:24 PM on February 11


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