Albert Finney, RIP


#1

Michael Caine is alive and well, but another fine British actor of the same era has left the stage: Albert Finney died yesterday at age 82.

Finney made his rep as a stage actor, and didn’t make very many movies - certainly not compared to Caine! In his later years he was best known for playing a certain type of gruff big shot (he was Daddy Warbucks in the movie version of Annie, as well as Erin Brockvich’s boss) but even within that realm he had depth: one of the pleasures of re-watching the Coens’ Millers Crossing is noting how Finney subtly conveys that his mob boss character is both not as smart but also not as cold as Gabriel Byrne’s lead.

And he had greater range. He was a working class stiff in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, an utterly charming rake in Tom Jones, and a completely ridiculous but also completely formidable Hercule Poirot in the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express.

If you’re looking to discover some lesser-seen Finney, try 1983’s The Dresser, in which Finney plays a blustering, imperious, and legendary stage actor on a disastrous tour during WW2.


#2

I could have sworn he died years ago.

One of the greats. RIP.


#3

RIP, I don’t recall seeing him in a lot of stuff I watch. But he was great in Big Fish.


#4

I didn’t see him in much, but I was very excited to recognize “the guy from Miller’s Crossing!” when he showed up briefly in The Bourne Ultimatum. He definitely left an impression.


#5

Oh man, I loved him in anything I saw him in. His version of Scrooge is my favorite. RIP sir.


#6

Big Fish is pretty great if you have the time.


#7

The thing about Albert Finney is that he’d simply vanish into the roles he played, most of the time. You watch a movie with Gene Hackman in it, you know you’re watching a movie with Gene Hackman in it. Same with Michael Caine, Warren Beatty, etc. etc.

But Finney could often simply vanish into a role. I saw “Daddy Warbucks” trending on twitter and thought it was because Matt Whitaker was testifying to congress. (No, really!) It took me a while to remember that Finney played the role in the movie version of Annie.

I mean, I look at his credits list and it’s staggering…and yet I have to strain to recall him at times. He was in Traffic? Oh yeah. And the Bourne movies. Now I remember. Skyfall? Oh sure. And yeah, he played that one guy in Erin Brockovich. Right. Knew that.

The role I remember him most for – other than Miller’s Crossing and Scrooge, and he is indeed a terrific musical Ebenezer, thank you very much – is a seemingly forgotten Alan Parker film from the early 1980s, Shoot The Moon. Finney is the lead opposite Diane Keaton in a movie about the collapse of a 15-year marriage, and those two actors are utterly brilliant in playing off one another.


#8

He was an artist with a Thompson.

Edit:


#9

Another vote for Big Fish. He was indeed one of the greats. RIP.


#10

Big Fish is my favorite Tim Burton film. Love his earlier films but this one is on a whole other level and Finney was fantastic in it.

Also loved Finney in Miller’s Crossing. Aside from Annie, which my kids watched over and over at some point, can’t recall him in any other films. Just read he was in Skyfall and Traffic and I can’t seem to remember that.

RIP.


#11

Wow, that’s a tough one.

He’s brilliant in lots of stuff but I was particularly moved by his performance in Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.


#12

Miller’s Crossing will always be my favorite of his performances. Just the way he says those lines so naturally. It seems casual at first, but really it’s just that he learned the language. Not all actors can do that, or bother to do that. He learned the language of the script.

“Clear as mud.”

“So take your flunky and dangle.”

“Let it drift. All it means is a lot people know.”

Let it drift.

Not a lot of people can get away with that sounding natural. There is ease there, with menace underneath. Dosed with vulnerability because of his relationship with Tom…and other things.

It’s painful to watch him do this, because you know that Trey Wilson (Nathan Arizona) was supposed to play Leo, but he died just before they began to film the movie. So Albert Finney took the role and he fucking sings in it. I cannot even imagine the movie with Trey Wilson as Leo, which makes me feel like a jerk. But Albert Finney is so freaking good. Tough and pathetic and heart-breaking in the same performance.

God I love that movie.

-xtien

“Looking at you moping around takes away all my, what do you call it? Joy de veever?”


#13

I loved his work as the patriarch in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and especially his leading turn in John Huston’s adaptation of Under the Volcano. In the latter, he plays one of the most convincing drunks I’ve ever seen on screen. The way he communicates when he’s recognized someone familiar when he’s absolutely on his ass or reassures concerned strangers that he’s in great spirits is just brilliant, subtle acting.

Nice that he bowed out gracefully from the screen in the best James Bond movie ever.


#14

Bill Murray is still my favorite Scrooge.