Christopher Plummer: 1929-2021

Christopher plummer knew he would remain better known to the general public as Captain von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” (1965), a worldwide mega-hit that he sometimes called “The Sound of Mucus”, but he had accepted his popularity at the end of its long life. This very healthy image needed the elegance and perversity that Plummer brought to his role; in his review Pauline Kael compared it to “a Valentine’s Day spider”.

No less a sex appeal authority than Mae West said in an interview with John Kobal that “The Sound of Music” has been such a hit, not so much because of Julie andrews but because of Plummer. “I said to Bob Wise after seeing that pic he did with him, you know, ‘Sound of Music’, I said, ‘There’s your sexual person, there’s your box office. , him, ”West said. “He wore this image.”

Plummer was born in Canada, and he was inspired to become an actor after seeing Laurence Olivier in his 1944 film of “Henri v. »His very entertaining 2008 memoirs In spite of medetails how he paid his summer stock dues, learning the timing of comedy Edward Everett Horton and the emotional greatness of Ruth Chatterton.

Plummer made a name for himself as a Shakespearean actor when he played Henry V in 1956 at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and he had the talent and courage to play Jason opposite Judith Anderson in “Medea” and to excel in several live television appearances with Julie harris; his demanding Torvald in a 1959 production of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” was particularly striking.

“Wind through the Everglades”

Plummer made his feature film debut in 1958 when he starred in Sidney lumet“Stage Struck”, which takes place in the world of theater, and as an ornithologist in Nicolas ray“Wind Across the Everglades”, a wild, tender and neglected film that focuses on Plummer’s cunning. Several years later he was a memorably depraved Commodus in Anthony Mann’s “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (1964) and he made a perverse and deliberately unappealing Hamlet for television that same year in “Hamlet in Elsinore. “, which was shot in Denmark, before playing the captain in” The Sound of Music “and hinting at dark cravings that were decidedly not family friendly.

Plummer wrote in his memoir about a drinking problem that began to engulf him in the 1960s, and although he continued to work regularly in theater and film, he began to get stuck in roles as support and in obscure projects. He joined the Olivier National Theater in the early 1970s but was fired from a production of “Coriolanus“in 1971 and replaced by Anthony hopkins because of his bad behavior.

Plummer won a Tony in 1973 for a musical version of “Cyrano de Bergerac, “but it was not until the early 1980s that he gained attention again for his Iago in” Othello “opposite James earl Jones, who was much appreciated. Iago de Plummer has been called “probably the best Shakespearean performance to have come to this continent in our time” by critic Walter Kerr.


He added to his classical repertoire with an opposite Macbeth Glenda jackson in 1988, and Plummer won a second Tony for his one-man show “Barrymore” in 1997, in which he played John Barrymore at the end of his life. I saw Plummer on stage in this showcase, and what remains in my mind is his physical authority, the way he ordered the space with his body and also with his voice, but also a moment of silence. where he went through the agonizing disappointment of Barrymore within himself. , how he threw his chance for theatrical greatness in favor of the hedonistic life. There was a feeling that Plummer was using some of his own feelings here to inform what he was doing as Barrymore, that for all of his fine and varied work, there was a chance for greatness that he had just missed.

This stage performance in “Barrymore” took place two years before Plummer’s big return to the movies as Mike Wallace in “The initiate»(1999) at 70 years old. After this film, which seemed to arouse interest in Plummer and his talent, he worked with renewed energy and appetite throughout the 21st century on a full range of projects: A King Lear for Broadway in 2004, films from ” Barrymore ”(2011) and“Storm“(2010) and” Caesar and Cleopatra “by George Bernard Shaw (2009), and a popular hit in”Beginners“(2010).

As a man who tentatively begins to embrace his homosexuality late in life, Plummer had close-up scenes in “Newbies” that were so exposed and vulnerable that he seemed to open his soul to the camera, and the reward was an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. At 82, Plummer became the oldest acting Oscar winner, and at 88, he became the longest-running nominee of all time when he replaced the disgraced. Kevin spacey as rich J. Paul Getty in “All the money in the world“(2017).


In 2019, Plummer played the murder victim in the complex “Knives Out», A success in which he was more authoritative than ever. There was a feeling that Plummer could truly last forever, that the crust of age and acting both pleasantly hammered and rigorously insightful could take him to 100 and even surpass him. Plummer has worked for over 70 years as an actor, and he has tried many different modes of play and flourished in most possible areas of his profession. As a young man, he seemed to want to keep us at a distance and displease us, as if the success of “The Sound of Music” had left him rebellious and disillusioned. But as an older man, over the last 25 years of his life and career, he had made himself feel like he wanted to be loved and hired as both good and good men.

Plummer was married to the eccentric musical performer Tammy grimes from 1956 to 1960, and they had a daughter, Amanda plummer, who was one of the most adventurous and original performers of her time. In his memoirs, Plummer recalled seeing his daughter in a very harsh and confrontational film titled “Butterfly kiss(1995) and wondering if he himself would have the courage to go as far emotionally as her. It was perhaps partly a desire to impress his daughter that prompted him to return to the limelight in the late 1990s.

Plummer has distinguished himself in virtually every major role in Shakespeare. He was there for the blossoming of live television, and he was open to Nicholas Ray and Anthony Mann before he landed with Captain von Trapp. He has 217 credits on IMDb, not all of them distinguished, but many of them as colorful, vital and reckless as he is.

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