No longer regularly active, the two British acting greats reaching milestone 80th birthdays today have provided decades worth of peerless performances on stage, screen and “the tube.” Both won Emmys® for memorable impersonations of historical personages and each has an honors list of trophies and/or nominations from the Motion Picture Academy, Golden Globes® and Tonys®. Each has excelled in landmark dramas, popular comedies, arthouse fare, ensemble pieces, movies that pushed the boundaries of eroticism and fanciful genre riffs. Yet though they may have been sidelined by illness or found a different calling in politics, they still figure in any consideration of memorable acting icons. So raise a glass to the awesome Albert Finney, who embodied the following: the dreams and heartache of the working-class bloke (from Saturday Night and Sunday Morning to A Man of No Importance), the adventurous and often lusty spirit of the 1960s in period (Tom Jones) or contemporary (Charlie Bubbles) clothes,the delicious dexterity of a chameleon character actor (from Scrooge, Murder on the Orient Express and Gumshoe to The Playboys, Washington Square and Erin Brockovich), and the breathtaking skill of a master portraitist of formidable men facing challenge, family strife and decline (from The Dresser and Under the Volcano to The Browning Version, The Gathering Storm and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead).
And hoist the banner high to Photoplay’s one-time “Britain’s First Lady of the Flesh” and later 23-year Parliamentarian Glenda Jackson, who authoritatively depicted convention-shattering free spirits (Women in Love, The Music Lovers, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Romantic Englishwoman, Hedda), sly monarchs and authority figures (Elizabeth R, Mary Queen of Scots, Nasty Habits), wary but witty romantics (A Touch of Class, House Calls, Turtle Diary) and artistic grace (The Incredible Sarah, Stevie). Late last year, Jackson starred in Blood, Sex and Money, a BBC Radio 4 dramatization of Emile Zola stories, as the manipulative matriarch of a cruel family dynasty, another fearless and powerful woman. She told The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m not big on looking back.” But with two prodigious bodies of Finney and Jackson work to celebrate and savor today, perhaps she wouldn’t mind if we movie lovers did. Unfortunately, neither is yet a Twilight Time club member, but Finney will soon join the TT family down the road. As for Jackson, we can hope.