July 27, 2010

"I have never quite got over the fact that I thought, and I'm afraid I still do think, that 'acting' for a man — a really proper man — is sissified and faintly ridiculous."

"The French have a word for what I am and it's called 'manqué,' meaning a failure of desire.… I am everything 'manqué.' An actor manqué, a philosopher manqué, a writer manqué, and consequently an intolerable bore. (Not manqué, I'm afraid.)... The place I like to be best in the whole world is back in my village in Wales, down at the pub, standing with the miners drinking pints and telling stories. One drinks because life is big and it blinds you. Poetry and drink are the greatest things on earth. Besides women. There's something to death and something to truth, and we're after them all our beautiful lives on earth. Liquor helps."

Said/wrote Richard Burton.

36 comments:

El Pollo Real said...

I wonder if those small private faculty parties really are like the one portrayed in Who's Afraid of Virgina Wolff?

Kensington said...
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Kensington said...
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Kensington said...

I think he's being too hard on actors. To be sure, no one should be mistaking the average actor for the mighty masculine badass he might portray onscreen, but it's not unmanly to provide the world with depictions of rugged masculinity, even if it's being done by very talented sissy boys.

edutcher said...

A lot of actors of his generation thought the same thing - including John Wayne.

Scott said...

I loved Richard Burton. His last theatrical movie performance before he died was as O'Brien in Nineteen Eighty-Four. It was stunning and powerful. Did he ever act in a lousy movie?

Lem said...

I was reading somewhere.. or maybe it was on Charlie Rose with David Remnick were he, Remnick, said that Theodore Roosevelt was afraid that the country would become too soft and this animated him to get us into wars.

Palladian said...

"Did he ever act in a lousy movie?"

He guest starred in "The Fall Guy".

1jpb said...

Maybe it's true that being totally dry can be detrimental.

This could partly explain W and Beck.

Romney seems like he could use a drink.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Poetry and drink are the greatest things on earth. Besides women."

Spoken like someone from another era:

Rap is poetry now and half the population is too indoctrinated by PC to appreciate it's charms.

Nobody likes a drunk anymore. Pot rules the roost.

And women - ha! - women are spent, their lies finally exposed with the death of chivalry, which they killed.

Still, in his time, he got the best years of ET's life - and probably of life itself - so I can't blame him.

David said...

Love. Being in love. He had a very bad case of it.

Penny said...

"Love. Being in love. He had a very bad case of it."

Poor man. If only he'd been a Scot.

They had moors to mope around.

Paul said...

Scott said...Did he ever act in a lousy movie?

Yes! Many times!

He was described as the best actor to have been in so many bad movies. He starred in "Exorcist II: The Heretic," awarded a Golden Turkey as the second worst movie of all time, just above "Plan Nine From Outer Space."

Other terribl movies he made:
The V.I.P.s.
The Sandpiper.
Doctor Faustus.
Boom!
Candy.
Bluebeard.
The Assassination of Trotsky. Hammersmith is Out.
The Klansman.
The Medusa Touch.

William said...

He makes a fine, eloquent argument for the drinking life. The counter argument is that he died at fifty eight and missed all those epiphanies you get in your sixties about the pleasures of clean living......Elizabeth for all her excesses and illnesses is still with us and will probably have more years on earth than Mother Theresa. It's tough to handicap the race and predict the winners and losers or, for that matter, figure out who really won or lost.

HKatz said...

I remember reading somewhere that Humphrey Bogart had a good deal of respect for the craft and skill it takes to be a good actor. He didn't have patience for the ego/melodrama that often went with it, but he respected actors who worked hard; and he treated acting like any other profession. He probably wouldn't have agreed with Burton that there's something inherently "sissifying" about acting.

Penny said...

"I am everything 'manqué."

Manque see, manque do.

madawaskan said...
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madawaskan said...
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madawaskan said...

Stromae

Same sentiment?

Does anyone know what the wind instrument in the background is?

Penny said...

"Does anyone know what the wind instrument in the background is?"

Not a clue.

Do you have any guesses?

Gary Rosen said...

Not quite OT: Years ago I saw Truman Capote being interviewed on a late-night talk show, probably Cavett. He was railing about how stupid he thought actors were:

Capote: "Actors are the dumbest people on earth. You can't possibly be intelligent and be an actor."

Host: "Don't you think Richard Burton is a smart man?"

Capote: "Oh Burton is very intelligent. But he's a TERRIBLE actor!"

Host: "What about Laurence Olivier?"

Capote: "I don't think he could find his way around a racetrack."

rhhardin said...

Drama Club.

traditionalguy said...

Liz had it all many times over. The liquor industry must have seen her as a great force multiplier. Every man who loved her ended up as a heavy drinker to deal with the pain of loosing her love. She was one hell of a woman. Burton had the best 10 years of Liz. That was a triumph of sorts.

traditionalguy said...

The theme of marriage under attack fits in with a Liz Taylor bio. She was a walking and talking attack on many a marriage.

HDHouse said...

Isn't this really about anyone who writes about what moves them to write about? bloggers come to mind.

Some of his stuff was schlock..Cleopatra from my dating days comes to mind...

Other introspective stuff...Finding Forrester...well now...well now.

GMay said...

For some reason my first thought of Richard Burton is always of his narration in "Zulu!".

He did do a Cold War spy movie once that I really enjoyed. Far more realistic than the fantastical stuff that usually gets thrown at us. Even had the alcoholic thing going on in that one.

Bob_R said...

If your standard of masculinity is Welsh coal miners from Burton's era there are not many jobs that don't seem like cream puff occupations.

Lynne said...

Isn't Sean Bean (of Lord of the Rings fame) Welsh and from a mining family as well? Physically, he shares some of Burton's craggy quality, and is as physically big and sturdy.

Wonder what Bean thinks about acting- and about Burton.

Graham Powell said...

From the article it sounds as though Burton never really thought of himself as a success at what he did. That's such a tragedy, to feel yourself a failure, no matter what you've accomplished.

k*thy said...

One drinks because life is big and it blinds you.

No truer words have been spoken.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Does anyone know what the wind instrument in the background is?"

Are you sure it is a wind instrument. Sounds vaguely sitar like. I think a stringed and electronically enhanced instrument.

Ah....the Welsh. So talented, so beautiful, so handsome and so moody.

Richard Dolan said...

We all have our demons that, uncontrolled, will eat us alive. Burton needed to give his free reign to achieve power in his acting and passion in his life. He paid the price that, in earlier times, would have been chalked up to fate. He was in many ways the consummate 19th century operatic hero who, unfortunately, lived in an era that could never quite come to terms with operatic excess.

Sixty Grit said...
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madawaskan said...

Dust Bunny-

Actually I have no idea-it's ennui in music-ya could be the sitar-but for some reason Russians are going nuts to this song-wth?

************

Sixty Grit

madawaskan, that sounds like a shawm, or some other middle eastern single or double reed wind instrument. Could be a mizmar or zurna. That's what happens when good oboes go bad, just sayin'.

LOL! at that oboe comment-thanks so much for the suggestions-I'm going to try and research the instruments you listed.

William said...

He was at the dais table of life's banquet. He got first dibs on all the choice cuts. Money, fame, good looks, glamorous career, marriage to a beautiful woman. He was truly a winner, but somehow managed to make himself a loser manque. That took some acting.

HDHouse said...

@does anyone know the instrument in the background...

sounds like a shawm.