R. I. P. Nicol Williamson 1936-2012

The brilliant but erratic actor Nicol Williamson has passed away from esophageal cancer. Sadly Netflix streaming does not have my three favorite Nicol Williamson performances – Sherlock Holmes in The Seven Percent Solution, Merlin in Excalibur, or Little John in Robin and Marian. Four of his performances are currently available:

Inadmissable Evidence (1968) – NR

“London solicitor Bill Maitland (Nicol Williamson, who received a BAFTA nod for his compelling performance) treats his clients terribly and is hated by his colleagues. He’s unfaithful to his wife (Eleanor Fazan) and cruel to children. Based on a play by John Osborne, this intriguing character study manages to turn the misanthropic Maitland into an antihero the audience roots for, revealing a glimmer of humanity underneath his unpleasant actions.”

An excellent starring performance by Nicol Williamson – this is not a legal thriller like the name would imply but more of a depressing character study.

The Wilby Conspiracy (1975) – Rated PG

“Inspired by writer Peter Driscoll’s novel about apartheid in South Africa, The Wilby Conspiracy follows the attempts of two men, British engineer Jim Koegh (Michael Caine) and activist Shack Twala (Sidney Poitier), to escape from the police, led by the menacing Major Horn (Nicol Williamson). Their only connection is Jim’s girlfriend (Prunella Gee), a lawyer who defended Shack against charges of racial agitation.”

A good if dated thriller – Nicol Williamson gives quite an evil performance here.

Black Widow (1987) – Rated R

“Director Bob Rafelson’s superbly crafted thriller stars Debra Winger as Alexandra Barnes, an inquiring federal investigator who becomes intrigued — then fixated — when she stumbles across an unusual pattern of deaths by seemingly natural causes. The common bond among the victims? They’re all rich, reclusive and leave behind the same sultry young widow (Theresa Russell). Can Alexandra crack the case without getting tangled in a web of murder?”

A fun thriller but not really a showcase for Nicol Williamson.

The Advocate (1993) – Rated R

“How far jurisprudence has come! This medieval court drama is set in the days when humans and animals were believed to harbor the devil. Courtois, an educated lawyer (Colin Firth), leaves the big city to find peace in the countryside but soon discovers acts of murder and mayhem that are holding a small hamlet in fear. To the townsfolk, Courtois’s intelligence is nearly as mysterious as witchcraft.”

This is the only one of the four I’ve never seen though it sounds intriguing.