Peter O’Toole repeating himself in his 1960s films

Further to yesterday’s post about movie depictions of the three “angels” who visited Abraham, I figured I’d also revisit a post I wrote last year on Peter O’Toole, who played all three of these “angels” in The Bible: In the Beginning… (1966).

In that post, I noted that I’ve always been inclined to see O’Toole’s role in that film — where he visits the city of Sodom and brings destruction to it after the men of that town demand the opportunity to rape both of the angels he is playing — as “sort of a meta-sequel in which O’Toole gets revenge for the rape his character endured in a similar Middle Eastern town in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).”

But it wasn’t until watching The Bible again this week that I realized the later film might hark back to the previous film not only in its casting and narrative, but visually as well. Consider how both films make use of close-ups of Peter O’Toole’s eyes.

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Peter O’Toole announces his “retirement” from acting

Peter O’Toole announced his retirement from acting yesterday, and I must admit I’ve been dwelling on Bible movies enough these past few days that my first thought was, “Well, I guess that’s another part that the makers of Mary Mother of Christ will have to re-cast!” O’Toole had been attached to play Symeon, the old man who was informed by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah (as per Luke 2).

It wasn’t the first time O’Toole had agreed to play a small part in a Bible movie. In the early days of his movie stardom, he played the angels who bring condemnation to Sodom and Gomorrah in The Bible: In the Beginning… (1966), which I’ve always been inclined to see as sort of a meta-sequel in which O’Toole gets revenge for the rape his character endured in a similar Middle Eastern town in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). More recently, he played the prophet Samuel in the prologue to the Book of Esther adaptation One Night with the King (2006).

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