By Nathan De Leon
Today the world of cinema lost Joan Fontaine, Peter O’Toole, and Tom Laughlin. Each left behind an incredible body of work, and it would be difficult to decide on the best, but here are some of their iconic and definitive roles that deserve your viewing;
Joan Fontaine in Rebecca (1940)
The first film Alfred Hitchcock directed after migrating from England to America, Fontaine stars as the nameless wife to the haunted Maxim de Winter played by Laurence Olivier. Fontaine portrays deep naivety through her character, that gradually turns to suspicion as she learns more about the circumstances behind the death of Maxim’s previous wife. Fontaine easily holds her own, performing next to the venerable Laurence Olivier. Rebecca is the only Hitchcock film to win a Best Picture Oscar, an achievement certainly aided by Fontaine’s performance.
Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
I am embarrassed to say that I have not yet seen Lawrence of Arabia, although it is listed among one of the best films ever made, with O’Toole’s performance as T.E. Lawrence among its highlights. The film and it’s title character has been referenced in movies countless times, across every genre and decade, even making an appearance in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller Prometheus.
Tom Laughlin in Billy Jack (1971)
Ah, Billy Jack, a film that holds a special place in my heart. When I first watched this film, I went through a roller-coaster of emotions and reactions ranging from “How could this movie be made?”, to “This movie is insane.”, and finally to “Yep. This movie just went there.” A game changer in the world in independent film, Tom Laughlin not only starred in Billy Jack but also co-wrote, produced, and directed it. Though he had many roles in the production, Laughlin’s performance and full commitment to the character of Billy Jack is his best contribution. Gather some friends, take off your shoes, start the film, and get ready for the ride.