Monday, December 18, 2006

The Great Ones Vol. 1 (Side A, Track 1)

At the center of possibly the greatest song ever written, The Kinks Waterloo Sunset, we hear Ray Davies telling us of Terry meeting Julie at Waterloo Station every Friday night. The young romantic figures Davies so eloquently drew were of course Terence Stamp and Julie Christie who had just filmed Far From The Madding Crowd together. Both were at the beginning of legendary careers but would soon go in very different directions.
Terence, fulfilling his role as the coolest man on the planet, would find himself dating one of the most impossibly beautiful women of the sixties, Jean Shrimpton. The story is well known and it ends with the most talented actor of his generation getting his heart broken, quitting films and traveling to India for a ten year sabbatical no doubt to simultaneously lose and find himself.
This impossibly beautiful man gave us some of the key performances of the sixties including Poor Cow, Modesty Blaise, The Collector, Teorema and of course Fellini's Toby Dammit. We can see, in these films, the actor who should have become the biggest star in the world. An actor of limitless possibilities who literally threw it all away for love. Romantic perhaps but true and after the sixties we are confronted with mostly forgettable roles with a handful of halfway interesting ones thrown in.
Most artists who lose themselves don't come back but Terence has never been like most artists. He found his way back playing Wilson in Soderberg's 1999 film The Limey giving his greatest performance and reminding everyone who saw it of his importance.
Stamp has said that he wished he could have retired after The Limey as it was the performance he wanted to be remembered for. A person has to earn a living though and he continues to work today always holding back because why should he give his all to films that don't deserve it. There might be great actors who have made more great films than Terence Stamp but the handful he has puts him at the top of my list of the best.

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