Monday, February 8, 2021

Fond Farewell: Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye...

Handsome Captain Von Trapp.
"The Captain is gone..." said a text from a friend of mine last week. While Christopher Plummer was 91, and no one would perhaps express shock when someone passes at that age, it was still a heart-tugging moment, for he was one of our lifetime favorites. We did a full-on tribute to him more than ten years ago (can it be?!) right here for those who wish to know more about him. But he proved that a lot can happen in ten years, even if you are 81 at the start of them! Considering he has that lengthy tribute here already, we will not repeat ourselves with a complete run-down of his life and career, but I do have some further pictures to share and what better time to do so than right now? 

Canadian-born Plummer was the premier Shakespearean actor of his generation, having played all the major roles of The Bard before he was 30. Seen here, he essays MacBeth, Richard III and Henry V.

Here he is in character as Benedick of Much Ado About Nothing. All these kings, princes and lords would grant him an aura of cool, regal authority which ultimately made him perfect for portraying the austere, dignified Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music.

Several actors were considered for the part, but, though he was in actuality a skosh too young for it, he wound up being the perfect person to inhabit the man who was scarily imperious and yet charmingly vulnerable underneath.

The movie's staggering success (and its legions of devoted fans) got under Plummer's skin for quite some time, but eventually he began to appreciate the craftsmanship and the quality of it.

He certainly cut a dashing figure in his costumes.

I love this photo of him with Eleanor Parker as Baroness Schraeder. They made on super elegant couple, even if they were not to be.

He and Julie Andrews generated incredible chemistry and really made the love story aspect of the movie come to life. One gets the feeling that, despite the on-set of war, those two had one really fine honeymoon before having to rush home to the kids!

One of my other favorite roles of his, a vastly underrated one, is as the deranged Commodus in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964.)

In projects like Oedipus the King (1968), with Lilli Palmer as his mother (and wife!), we got a glimpse of what lay underneath his buttoned-up Austrian suits.

But never more so than in 1969's The Royal Hunt of the Sun.

Despite having his singing dubbed by Bill Lee in Music, Plummer did go on to star in and win a Tony for the musical Cyrano in 1973. He copped another Tony later for his one-man show Barrymore.

Plummer was principally a motion picture and stage actor with only occasional visits to television. When he costarred in the miniseries Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers (married to Jean Peters, but canoodling with Joan Collins, not the world's worst position to be in!), he won an Emmy. He would proceed to balance his career with further TV work including a role in The Thorn Birds.

Fans of The Sound of Music were delighted when he and Andrews reunited for live TV presentation of the play On Golden Pond in 2001. The project got mixed reviews (and many folks didn't think of these two as somewhat feeble old folks regardless of their chronological age.)

In my initial tribute to Mr. Plummer, he'd finally achieved an Oscar nomination after toiling away in the movies for half a century! Not long after that, he was nominated again and won! This time for Beginners (2010), in which he played the father of Ewan MacGregor who comes out as gay late in life. He was the oldest winner ever of a competitive Academy Award at 82. Then at age 88, he became the oldest ever nominee for acting when he was nominated for All the Money in the World (2017.) What with working on TV in 1953 and with a movie in the can for 2021 release, his career on screen nearly spanned 70 years! He died of complications from a fall on February 5th at age 91.

We enjoy watching the inventive, creative and versatile Mr. Plummer in everything, but to us he is indelibly the exquisitely debonair Captain Von Trapp. As such, we give a heartfelt, "So long, farewell..."


Scooter said...

I was surprised to learn that he was only in his early 30s when they made The Sound of Music. He was such a dashing figure.

Shawny said...

Whoa, he was smoking hot as MacBeth. Wow. I never looked twice at him before. But he’s actually very beautiful. Too bad they had to shave him down for the Royal Hunt of the Sun. His body hair was probably too much hotness for the time.

joel65913 said...

Holy Moly this has been a rough couple of weeks for the performing arts with the loss of Cloris Leachman, Cicely Tyson, Hal Holbrook and now Christopher Plummer all within days of each other!!

He was a very strikingly handsome man in his youth and as he aged he kept himself up so that he stayed a dashing figure. A wonderful actor who could be wily or impish as the script demanded. Sad to see him go.

I saw him in Macbeth on Broadway in the 80's with Glenda Jackson as the viperish Lady Macbeth and both were extraordinary.

FilmFan1 said...

In 1975, I saw a production of Othello with James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer as Iago. As Plummer was having a sword fight with another actor, the foil flew from his hand and struck a woman in the face in the front row. Plummer leaped from the stage, knelt down and cupped the woman's face in his hands until he was sure she was OK. Then he jumped back onstage and resumed the scene. What a class act. RIP, Captain von Trapp.

Poseidon3 said...

Joel, when I was looking into his Shakespearean roles, MacBeth was noted to be a "failure" which was blamed on that play's famous curse. I wonder what they felt was wrong with it since you found them so terrific...! Glad to know you got to see him on stage.

FilmFan1, that is incredible! So glad you were able to witness a moment like that and could report back that it was handled that way. Neat anecdote. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I loved he and Julie together in On Golden Pond. The production wasn't that great and the supporting cast was lacking but their chemistry was still as sparkling as ever.

Poseidon3 said...

They were a great pair, complimenting one another very well.