REBECCA, LAWRENCE & BILLY JACK - Content
REBECCA, LAWRENCE & BILLY JACK
For Hicksflicks.com, Dec. 20, 2013
Three movie icons from three different eras died last weekend, so we should promote an end-of-the-year moment of silence for Joan Fontaine, Peter O'Toole and Tom Laughlin.
Joan Fontaine, who earned star status in the 1940s, is perhaps best known for her two starring roles in Alfred Hitchcock films, "Rebecca" (1940) and "Suspicion" (1941), the latter winning her the best-actress Oscar. But she had a lengthy career beginning in 1935 and continuing through 1966 in films and 1994 in TV appearances.
Among her most beloved films are "Jane Eyre" (1943), "Born to Be Bad" (1950) and the Bob Hope comedy "Casanova's Big Night" (1954), among others. Fontaine is the only actor to win an Academy Award for a Hitchcock film, and she and Olivia de Havilland are the only sisters to have won best-actress Oscars.
Peter O'Toole will forever be known as "Lawrence of Arabia," which shot him to stardom in 1962, but he also starred in many other memorable films: "Becket" (1964), "What's New, Pussycat?" (1965), "How to Steal a Million" (1966), "The Lion in Winter" (1968), "The Stunt Man" (1980), "My Favorite Year" (1982) and many more.
O'Toole was also a highly regarded classical stage actor and was famous for his hard living (along with pal Richard Burton), as well as being a raconteur on a variety of television interview programs, a great many of which can be found on YouTube.
Tom Laughlin became well known in 1971 with "Billy Jack," which was at the front of the vigilante-revenge cycle of movies that became enormously popular during the 1970s (preceding "Death Wish" and "Walking Tall"). Laughlin wrote, directed and stars in the film as a half-Navajo who fights for the rights of the disenfranchised, in particular his fellow Indians.
"Billy Jack" is actually a sequel to his earlier film, "The Born Losers" (1967), which introduced the character against a motorcycle-gang backdrop. That film made a profit but was nowhere near as successful as "Billy Jack," which was a major hit. Two more sequels followed, "The Trial of Billy Jack" (1974), another major box-office success, and the last entry in the franchise, "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" (1977), a flop.
O'Toole is unquestionably the best remembered of the three, but they all achieved heights of popularity on different levels and each had an impact on the American motion-picture industry in the decades during which they found fame.