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Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
This popular British actor got the best scene in Miller's Crossing (1990), hands down. Who could ever forget him, playing a Prohibition-era Irish gangster, purposefully marching down a dark street in a hail of bullets, calmly firing a smoking machine gun to the strains of "Danny Boy" on the soundtrack? Sure, it's pure pulp, but a wonderful moment in a screen career loaded with them. Finney began as an extremely handsome, tousled-haired leading man associated with some of the brightest lights of the British Free Cinema movement of the early 1960s, which combined the working-class ethos of England's "angry young man" writers with the cinema-agitating tendencies of the French "nouvelle vague" directors.
Finney's first film was 1960's The Entertainer in which he shared screen time with the great Laurence Olivier; he quickly followed up with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), a "kitchen sink" drama about a dissolute factory worker, directed by Karel Reisz from Alan Sillitoe's novel. Originally tapped for the title role in Lawrence of Arabia Finney balked at the film's monumental shooting schedule and opted instead to play the title role in Tony Richardson's freewheeling adaptation of Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones (1963). The bawdy film won him his first Oscar nomination and made him an international star overnight, but rather than taking the Hollywood plunge, Finney continued his stage work full force and appeared in relatively few films (but successful ones) during the 1960s, including Two for the Road (1967, opposite Audrey Hepburn) and Charlie Bubbles (1968, his directorial debut as well).
In the 1970s he made a transition to character roles and quirky leads, often unrecognizable under a mound of makeup-as the title character in Scrooge (1970), or as the chunky, mustached, insufferable detective Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (1974, an Oscar-nominated turn). In the 1980s he took on more "visible" but no less varied roles, from the addled actor (reportedly based on the very theatrical Donald Wolfit) in The Dresser (1983, an Oscar nomination) to the title role in the 1984 TV movie Pope John Paul II other madefor-TV projects include The Image and The Green Man (both 1990). Though the quality of his recent films may be uneven, his work remains consistently outstanding.
OTHER FILMS INCLUDE: 1981: Wolfen, Looker 1982: Shoot the Moon 1982: Annie (as Daddy Warbucks); 1984: Under the Volcano (snagging his fourth Academy Award nomination as the alcoholic protagonist of John Huston's ambitious drama); 1987: Orphans 1992: The Playboys 1993: Rich in Love 1994: The Browning Version, A Man of No Importance.