Tuesday, April 11, 2017
(Belated) Birthday Boy: Egyptian Delight
Well, it'a day late, but I've never let that stop me from appreciating one of my favorites; the dashing Mr. Omar Sharif would have been 85 yesterday.
He really was a handsome devil, from the days he started as the golden boy of Egyptian movies right up until, so many decades later, the ill effects of dementia took hold. After his highest-profile days in Hollywood and all those international blockbusters, he did an awful lot of just-paying-the-bills sorts of roles, but several of his later movies (Hassan & Marcos, Monsieur Ibrahim) are worthy of him.
We catch him here rather inexplicably self-presenting in a Chippendalische sort of way (referring, of course, to the dance troupe rather than the dining-room sets), and while it's unlikely, I won't deny that it's beguiling.
A gent of the old school, he regarded with dismay the decline of both his country's cinemas and its once cosmopolitan culture. When I lived in Cairo, it was always fun to catch him out in public, often holding court at the bar of the Four Seasons where I was for a while something of a regular. He had the aura of someone accustomed to regard, but in a way that reflected not so much ego or pride as it did the consideration and effort - the crisp jacket, the artfully tousled hair - that went into pleasing those doing the regard. He was a star, and happy to uphold his side of the bargain. There are, these days, too few like him.
And why is it, somehow, that it's the wristwatch rather than the bow tie that makes this pretty picture so risqué?