Happened to be flipping channels this morning and caught the opening of the 1969 Oscar-bait extravaganza Anne Of The Thousand Days, with Richard Burton in full-out Master Thespian mode, and immediately thought of this great SCTV bit.
A few notes:
1) Dave Thomas' Richard Harris impression is one of the greatest things in the history of the world.
2) If anything, John Candy's plummy Richard Burton doesn't go far enough. Was Burton ever a particularly good actor? On stage, maybe, but we have no record of that. As far as his work on film goes, I'll give you The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?...and that's about it. Everything else I've ever seen is unbearably hammy, projecting to the balcony without realizing there is no balcony on a film set. Hey Dick, you've got a close-up--tone it down.
3) On the other hand, Joe Flaherty's Peter O'Toole, while technically accurate, is a little unfair. Unlike Harris and Burton, O'Toole seemed to master film acting right from the start. Even while giving overwrought performances in overproduced stage adaptations (as in The Lion In Winter, one of the obvious inspirations for this sketch), he at least made some attempt to portray the character beneath the high-flown speechifying.
4) Obviously, I found this clip on YouTube. A commenter at that site smugly dismissed this entire sketch. Why? It was so overacted!
I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but this person is unbelievably stupid.