FILMS… Remembering Albert Finney with an unsung Oscar nod from me



Let’s go to Albert Finney in this movie, let’s go see this star…


Remembering this late actor with the whole shebang about his film, Shoot the Moon. A film telling us about divorce, Dunlap style.


Shoot The Moon (1982) Official Trailer – Albert Finney, Diane Keaton Movie HD, Movieclips Classic Trailers


I was sad to hear of the recent passing of Albert Finney, a British actor with an all-around acting career, his debut in 1956 in a TV Movie. On TV, he played everyone from the Pope (Pope John Paul II) to Winston Churchill. This talented actor also appeared in theatre performances, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing.

In feature films he played amongst others, an American Daddy Warbucks in Annie (1982) and a Belgian in Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (1974). His film swan song is a memorable wee moment in Skyfall (2012), but not sadly as a Bond bad guy. But with a wee Scottish connection with the spy. With Finney spotted in those final scenes. However, for me, it was one of his many film roles from the 1980s that I remember him most.

As a near teen, I’d adored his heartwarming role in the Annie movie as Daddy Warbucks. Yet another of his more heartrending patriarchal roles from the 1980s that made a much stronger impact on me. This was in his multi Award-nominated dramatic role as George Dunlap in Shoot the Moon (1982). This film award-nominated is an underrated Alan Parker directed film and was written by Bo Goldman. Goldman also wrote the screenplay for a Realweegiemidget favourite One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

In a nutshell, for the Shoot the Moon movie. we head to Marin County, California and the man-made home of the Dunlap family. George Dunlap’s a writer – who refurbished their old rambling house – unhappily married Faith (Diane Keaton) with the pair parents to four wee daughters. One of which is played by Tina Yothers from Family Ties (1982-89) and more notably Dana Hill, also Audrey from National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985). The other two grew up to be an actress in Edtv (1989) named Viveka Davis and Tracey Gold from Growing Pains (1985-92).

Anyway, with him busy as an award-winning writer, she’s brought up the girls. Then after 15 years of marriage, George is revealed to be having an affair. Faith confronts him on this. Meanwhile, their eldest daughter, Sherry (Hill) is in shock after learning about his affair. Sherry had discovered this by accident after eavesdropping on his phone call to his other woman.

George then leaves Faith, after 15 years of marriage for this much younger woman, a single mum, Sandy (Karen Allen). She sees the kids as more of an inconvenience. On the rebound, Faith dates Frank Henderson (Peter Weller). He’s the man who comes to fix the tennis court. George feels estranged from his family and his home, leading to heartbreaking and traumatic scenes.

This and the subsequent events hurt this family to the core, and this multiplied as George and Faith divorced. I won’t tell you if George and Faith reconcile, but leave the rest of this plot to be learned elsewhere. It’s a real biting drama on the realities of divorce in a family. And this one where you can feel this family’s pain, as events unfold for both the adults and their children. It’s a pretty powerful movie with moving and solid performances from all to a possibly true to life script.

There is no glossy “made for Hollywood” story for this plot, but more tragic scenes that may profoundly affect you. The scenes especially between the parental leads and those with a young, Dana Hill showed a more vulnerable and tender side to their acting. These scenes are all credibly executed, and Hill proved promising in this her debut movie. It’s a film I remember watching as a teen and one that I’ll always remember for Finney’s wonderful but frightening performance.

It really is a far cry from his musical roles in Scrooge and Annie that I’d grown up with. The Shoot the Moon acting performances were sadly overlooked as Oscar material, but Keaton and Finney both won Golden Globes. Finney’s role was originally offered to Jack Nicholson, who declined it due to the hard-hitting plot content. Of his role; Finney said to the New York Times;

“It required personal acting; I had to dig into myself. When you have to expose yourself and use your own vulnerability, you can get a little near the edge. Scenes where Diane Keaton and I really have to go at each other reminded me of times when my own behavior has been monstrous.

Finney’s other treasured roles included the previously mentioned Annie (1982), where he played Daddy Warbucks. Warbucks is a millionaire who takes in an orphan, Annie for a week for a promotional stunt. Then Warbucks grows to love her but helps Annie find her parents.

Let’s just add this leads to a heartwarming song and dance finale. I adored his romantic chemistry with Ann Reinking who played Warbucks secretary, Grace. Finney gave a wonderful singing performance both with Edward Herrmann as FDR in Tomorrow and Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan in Sign. A full review is found HERE.

Other memories of Finney include watching him in Murder on the Orient Express (1974). As my second favourite Poirot – after Peter Ustinov – Finney headed a cast of 1970s lovelies. All starring in his in this Agatha Christie whodunnit ensemble in this my favourite adaptation. With murder on a train, where everyone’s a suspect.

Finney stars as the Belgian detective – under a ton of makeup – and I enjoyed watching him interrogating those suspects. Suspects played by everyone from Ingrid Bergman to Lauren Bacall and Anthony Perkins to Michael York. The film is set in the glamorous 1920s with some fantastic costumes. 

But having looked at his career, it seems I’ve more treasures to discover. So, I’m going to track down a few more of those wonderful earlier Albert Finney roles. These include his Academy Award Nominated Best Actor roles that made him famous. Starting with his role in the title character, Tom Jones (1963). This is not the 10 times Oscar-nominated film biopic on the Welsh singer, but a film based on the Henry Fielding novel. Where Finney proved from this his third feature film, he was a big British acting fish in a little pond.



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