Lawrence Of Arabia (Restored Version)

Columbia Released 1962



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Movie Summary

David Lean

David Lean's famous epic biography of the enigmatic T. E. Lawrence, a "desert-loving Englishman" whose heroism in the First World War, when he successfully united warring Arab tribes in the battle against invading Ottoman Turks (allies of Germany), made him world-famous but became open to question subsequently. Was Lawrence a madman, a sadist, an egomaniac, as some detractors claimed after his death in 1932? Or was he the visionary leader of legend? Peter O'Toole's charismatic performance in the title role made him an international superstar overnight.

Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    What a bold, mad act of genius it was, to make Lawrence of Arabia, or even think that it could be made.

  • 100

    Boston Globe

    Lawrence is back on the big screen, and it simply demands to be seen. Yes, again.

  • 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    It's perhaps only because it can't be seen in its full glory on television that "Lawrence" isn't ranked more highly on some recent all-time "best film" lists. But it belongs near t...


    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (2)

      • Albert Finney was tested at some length for the role of Lawrence by David Lean, but turned the part down in favour of (much less lucrative) stage work. Alain Delon, Horst Buchholz and Maurice Ronet were all considered for the role of Ali before Omar Sharif was signed; Ronet went so far as to make detailed costume tests, but his strong French accent and inability (at the time) to speak English counted against him.

      • Although Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif were officially "introduced" in this film, both had appeared in prominent film roles previously - indeed, Sharif was the most popular film star in Egypt (usually billed as "Cherif"), although only one of his films, Goha (1959), had been seen in the west. O'Toole had previously been seen in The Savage Innocents (where his role role was greatly reduced in the editing), Kidnapped and The Day They Robbed The Bank Of England (all released in 1960).

    • QUOTES (5)

      • T.E. Lawrence: [meeting Ali for the first time]: None of my friends is a murderer!

      • Potter: [burning himself when he tries Lawrence's trick of extinguishing a match flame with his fingers]: Ow! It bloody hurts.
        Lawrence: Certainly it hurts.
        Potter: What's the trick, then?
        Lawrence: The trick is not minding that it hurts.

      • Prince Feisal: [to Allenby]: El Aurens is a sword with two edges. We are equally glad to be rid of him, are we not?

      • General Murray: I cannot make out whether you're bloody bad-mannered or just half-witted.
        Lawrence: I have the same problem myself, sir.

      • Jackson Bentley: [warning Prince Feisal]: Watch out for Allenby. He's a slim customer.

    • NOTES (4)

      • The film won 7 Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Substantially Original Score, Best Sound, Best Director and Best Picture.

      • Michael Wilson's first draft of the screenplay was written whilst Wilson was blacklisted by Hollywood as a result of his left-wing views. He was uncredited when the film first appeared in 1962, something he protested at length over many years. His name was not restored to the writing credits until the late 1990s, by which time both he and Robert Bolt were dead.

      • The character of "Jackson Bentley" is obviously based on Lowell Thomas, the American journalist whose reports from the desert war made T.E. Lawrence internationally famous in 1917; Thomas later published a best-selling book about Lawrence as well as making a documentary film. The characters of "General Murray", "Colonel Brighton" and "Mr. Dryden" are fictionalised composites of several real people. General Allenby is referred to by his real name and Jack Hawkins altered his appearance to look as much like the real man as possible. However, Allenby's family protested very strongly against the way in which the general was depicted, just as T.E. Lawrence's brother, still alive in 1962, attacked the film for its treatment of its title-character.

      • Robert Bolt was hired to rewrite the script in a great hurry at a fee of $100,000 (an extraordinary sum for a writer with no previous screenwriting experience). There was a problem, however - he had been arrested (as had Bertrand Russell) for taking part in an anti-nuclear demonstration and was in prison. Sam Spiegel used his influence to get Bolt released early, pressuring him to sign an affidavit to the effect that he would henceforth keep the peace. Bolt later said that he had never been able to forgive Spiegel for doing this.

    • ALLUSIONS (0)

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    Historical, Biography