"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

Alec Guinness

06 Apr 2002

Alec Guinness and family
Alec Guinness with son Matthew and wife Merula Salaman
in 1953 after a trip to Canada. PHOTO: BBC web site.

Who would want to be best known for saying, "These are not the droids you're looking for." Not me, that's for darned sure. And yet, when I saw "Star Wars" so many years ago, that was the line I remembered best. That was the line that revealed the hidden power of the Jedi. And yet it's delivered like any other.

As far as I can recall, that was the first time I'd seen Alec Guinness in anything. Since then, I've seen in him in some decent films: "The Man In The White Suit" and "Mute Witness" being my favourites. There were the ones that are less memorable: "Kafka", "A Passage To India", and "Lawrence of Arabia" (a fabulous film, but I can't for the life of me remember Alec being in it). And then there was "Murder By Death" which I won't tell you I get a big kick out of because it's certain to diminish your opinion of me.

Strangely enough, he was not in a number of films that I had thought he was: "Clue", "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf", and "Trainspotting" to name a few. He was one of only a handful of actors who does not appear in "Pulp Fiction" or in any film by Woody Allen. He has also avoided being in any film with the ubiquitous Kevin Bacon. How did he do that? How do you resist the call of Hollywood to be in scads of big, bad films?

I guess you just have to look the money in the eyes and tell them straight out: "This is not the actor you're looking for."

Sir Alec Guinness died on Saturday, August 5th while I was holidaying in Chicago. He was 86.

Related Junk

Sir Alec's Obituary (BBC)
Filmography (IMDB)
The Man In The White Suit (IMDB)
Murder By Death (IMDB)