Blessings in Disguise: ALEC GUINNESS (1914-2000)

ALEC GUINNESS: 1914-2000

Most movie actors lavish on us the gift of their charisma. That is star quality: the mass production of ego. But there is another, circuitous route to film immortality. An actor who would follow this course must be more daring. He must hide in front of the camera, collapse his personality and confound our expectations, remake himself with each role. He knows there are blessings in disguise. It is the opposite of star quality: black-hole quality.

"Alec Guinness," wrote critic Kenneth Tynan admiringly, "has no face." So true. Sir Alec, who died this month at 86, was the most self-effacing screen...

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