Over a career spanning five decades (and counting), Albert Finney has more than sixty film and television credits. A classmate of Peter O'Toole at the Royal Academy of Art, Finney was initially chosen over O'Toole for the lead role in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, but left the production after only four days due to creative differences. Rather than suffering a career setback, Finney stepped in to Tony Richardson's (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Look Back in Anger) adaptation of Henry Fielding's 1749 novel, Tom Jones. A raunchy (for its time), ribald satire, Tom Jones went on to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Musical Score, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Of Finney's other nominations for Best Actor, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Dresser (1983), and Under the Volcano (1984), his second, playing Agatha Christie's Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is his weakest. It's more caricature than character, outward gestures and affectations without the nuances and sensitivity Finney has shown across his five-year career. Of the other nominations, Finney gave award-worthy performances, with Under the Volcano perhaps his most memorable. Finney's role in Under the Volcano called on him to play an alcoholic diplomat on a career- and life-ending bender, the kind of role and performance the Academy tends to nominate and award. It's his first nomination for Tom Jones, however, that I consider his best role, or, to be more precise, his most underappreciated.
categories Cinematical