Title: Creator (Ivan Passer, 1985)
Role: Dr. Harry Wolper, research scientist and amateur Frankenstein
You'll notice we've skipped the 1970s altogether and are now firmly in that horrific decade of my blessed birth--the '80s. Creator is my favorite O'Toole film of the decade, thankfully a lot weightier, and funnier, than How to Steal A Million. If 'For The Love of Peter O'Toole' gets you to rent only one O'Toole film, I would encourage you to seek out Creator. It's definitely not as well know as these others, but it's definitely in the top 10 in terms of quality. Creator is such a triumph and wonder because it manages to successfully blend tones, which is probably the hardest single thing a film can ever do. There are elements of '80s teen romp, science-fiction, comedy and heart-rending melodrama. Usually, that combination would spell absolute disaster, but thanks to Passer's script and direction, all the characters are so clearly formed, real people that every quirk of personality or twist of fate is dealt with as messily and beautifully as they would be in real life.
The story is this: O'Toole plays Harry Wolper, a genius biologist/physician slumming it as a university researcher (the film was shot at my alma mater UC Irvine--bonus awesome points!).
UC Irvine! I've probably sat on that bench. Oh, yeah, be jealous.
Wolper enlists a slacker research assistant, played by the slackerishly charming Vincent Spano, to help him try to clone his wife who died thirty years prior. Wolper also rustles up Meli, played by Mariel Hemingway to implant and incubate the dead wife's eggs. Oh, yeah, did I mention it's kind of weird? But it's also kind of sweet, as the naive romance between Spano's Boris and Barbara, played by Virgina Madsen, proves. I won't spoil the plot points for you. Some people fall in love, some people get sick and there are a whole lot of laughs and tears along the way. Yes, it sounds cliched, but I can honestly say Creator is one of the most refreshing films I've seen in a long while. It's always the best when you run across a film you totally expected nothing from and it ends up being one of the best films you've ever seen. Such is Creator.
And the whole thing is available to watch on YouTube! Now you really have no excuse.