In 1999, Gregory Peck (1916-2003) visits the Barter Theatre, Abingdon, VA, where he had acted in 1940 and where this evening he tells stories and answers questions about his career. Interspersed are clips from Peck's films and from interviews recorded over the years and vérité contemporary footage of visiting with his daughter Cecilia before and after the birth of her son, receiving the National Medal of Arts, chatting with Lauren Bacall and with Martin Scorsese, and dining with Jacques Chirac, always with his wife of forty-four years, Veronique Passani, beside him. Throughout, Peck is informal, candid, and wry.Written by
Gregory Peck is considered one of truly great actors of our time -- not only was he a great actor, but he was charismatic, warm, and handsome, with a distinctive speaking voice and impressive height. The whole package.
His fair-minded viewpoint often dictated the films he did, such as Gentlemens Agreement, but his favorite role is everybody's favorite role of his, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Here, we see him in several theaters talking about his career and taking questions from the audience, showing a sense of humor and a way of telling a story. And as a professional, that's how he would like to be remembered, as a good storyteller.
He aged with grace and dignity, surrounded by a family who obviously adored him. He took stock of his life and career in an honest way, speaking of his son Jon, who committed suicide. "Perhaps if I had spent more time with him..." he says. Losing his son was the saddest day of his life. Then we see his joy as he holds his newest grandchild. "You go on," he says, "you get back into the world."
I was friendly with the actress Rita Gam; she made a western with him and they were supposed to do a nude scene. I don't think it was terribly graphic. He said, "Come on, Rita, let's do it like the young people do." When asked at one of the Q&As if Sophia Loren was nude in the shower scene with him, he said, "Well, yes and no. I can say it was pretty spectacular."
I can't describe the feeling one gets from watching this - we see a real, gentle human being that even someone as sharp-tongued as Lauren Bacall was crazy about. At this point in America, we're going through such a time of turmoil - there was something about this documentary that made me feel that we, too, would go on. If only we could all go on the way Gregory Peck did.
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