WolfmanOz at the Movies #32

A miracle of a film

Lawrence Of Arabia was first released just under 60 years ago on December 10th, 1962. The film depicts T.E. Lawrence’s experiences during World War I in the Ottoman Empire provinces of Hejaz and Greater Syria where he united the warring Arab tribes in their fight to rid the Turks from Arabia.

Its themes include Lawrence’s emotional struggles with the violence implicit in war, his own tortured identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his new-found comrades within the Arabian desert tribes.

The film is not a wholly accurate portrayal of the events and most of the film’s characters were based on actual people to varying degrees with some scenes heavily fictionalised. Also the characterisation of Lawrence was somewhat controversial as Peter O’Toole at 6 foot 2 inches was considerably taller that the 5 foot 5 inch Lawrence whilst the film portrayed him as somewhat of an egotist.

But despite theses misgivings the film often appears in critics and filmmaker lists as one of greatest films ever made with O’Toole’s performance also cited as one of the best ever captured in celluloid.

This is one film that DEMANDS to be seen in a cinema. The epic scope of this film has never been surpassed and the dazzling cinematography by Freddie Young captures the awesome beauty of the desert that is simply breathtaking. Director David Lean was so transfixed by the desert that it was rumoured he never wanted to complete the film.

It is remarkable that for such a big film that the lead role of T.E. Lawrence went to the relatively unknown (at the time) Peter O’Toole. Producer Sam Spiegel had favoured casting Marlon Brando but Lean insisted on O’Toole after the success of his screen tests.

O’Toole is quite simply marvellous in which he features in nearly every scene in a film that runs for 3 hours and 47 minutes. This is quite an extraordinary portrayal where O’Toole depicts the inner demons of his character in a film performance I regard as my favourite movie performance of all-time.

In addition to the unknown O’Toole, the film introduced Omar Sharif to the cinema world with one of the most spectacular entrances ever filmed.

The rest of the cast featured a cavalcade of outstanding actors including Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal, Jack Hawkins as General Allenby, Anthony Quayle as Colonel Brighton, Arthur Kennedy as Jackson Bentley, José Ferrer as the Turkish Bey, Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden and last, but not least, the charismatic Anthony Quinn as Auda Abu Tayi.

Today, the woke brigade would object to Anthony Quinn (a Mexican-American) playing an Arab, but using the tools of his profession i.e. make-up and the immense talent he possessed, he created an unforgettable performance as the fearsome Arab chieftain.

At its core, the movie is a character study and it depicts the gradual disintegration of its Lawrence over the course of the film culminating in the climatic slaughter of a Turkish column.

Boasting a glorious score by Maurice Jarre that is one of the most famous ever composed for the screen, it is just another superlative in this magnificent movie.

This is another film that couldn’t be made today as we have seemed to have lost the craft and skills of the filmmakers of yesteryear that could put such a movie together. I doubt we will ever see the likes of David Lean, Robert Bolt, Freddie Young, Anne V. Coates, John Box and Maurice Jarre ever again.

But we can be thankful that this film was made and also to Robert A. Harris who painstakingly restored the film back to its former glory in 1989.

For those that are interested I have created the following playlist from this movie which features 14 scenes in total.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLt5qtosTj5MEenc5jBTqvykz648-Macb

I clearly recall first seeing this film nearly 50 years ago at the cinema in one of its many re-releases. I fell in love with it then and to this day I am still utterly in awe of this film; and, to put it simply, Lawrence Of Arabia is my second favourite movie of all time.

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtcwqoxIWa4cGW9hCESaUMg

WW Movie Clips

24 thoughts on “WolfmanOz at the Movies #32”

  1. Watching the film I the middle of winter at home on a Friday night, started out with jeans, flanalette shirt and a jumper, ended up in shorts and a t shirt as I was so hot from riding across the desert.

    Then the fearful part, walking down the corridor to my bedroom in the cold;

    Oh the horror , the horror


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  2. Must say, one of the favourite scenes was the attack on the Turkish column when Laurence yells “take no prisoners”.

    Usually we ended footy training where we were all spent with a sprint across the oval, no one looked forward to this – then of course I had to yell out “take no prisoners” and everyone else would then contribute a line – it became the favourite exercise.

    Then the showers.

    Oh the horror, the horror.


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  3. Sometimes airlines have very poor choices of films to watch in flight, so many people turn to the classics that are often on the listings. On a business class long-haul flight on Air Canada offering a truly awful selection a few years ago as I walked around the carels I noted that what seemed like half of them were watching Lawrence of Arabia. Its grand scope never fails to offer worthwhile entertainment when viewed one more or a few more times. Just leave a few years inbetween viewings. (For me, the same can be said for Gone With The Wind).


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  4. Saw it in 63 as a kid whemn my parents took me to every movie going on Saturday night. A cinematic feast. It set me up for life. For some reason I wasn’t allowed to see Lolita and they wouldn’t tell me what it was about.


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  5. The ending shows the Arabs victorious but beginning to bicker and unable to adapt to the modern world which requires an understanding of electric power stations. Fairly ominous and unsparing in tone. Another reason to like it.


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  6. lotocoti says:
    August 4, 2022 at 10:16 am
    This is for ladies only will forever remain my favourite Peter O’Toole moment.

    O’Toole was terrific in My Favourite Year in a very amusing comic portrayal of a film actor closely resembling Errol Flynn.

    He’s my favourite actor.


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  7. Marvellous movie, well worth watching again. I must read the WW1 AIF history of those years in Palestine, I have the books just haven’t gotten to them yet.

    One interesting thing is the destroyed train in Arabia. I was idly watching a western once and a remarkably similar destroyed train was in it too, but in Arizona or some such place. Weird how the same train can be in two different places. 😀

    I tried to find the second movie just now, but sadly I can’t, so you’ll just have to believe me.


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  8. Bruce of Newcastle says:
    August 4, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Marvellous movie, well worth watching again. I must read the WW1 AIF history of those years in Palestine, I have the books just haven’t gotten to them yet.

    You will find in those books that it was the Australians (10th Light Horse Regiment) who took the surrender of Damascus before T. E. Lawrence showed up. It was a wheat farmer from Western Australia, Arthur Olden, who took the surrender.

    Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” is half truths mixed with facts, he was an interesting though confused individual. That doesn’t detract from the movie though which was very good.


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  9. In a nursing home in Bendigo, Victoria, in the early 1980s I looked after a patient, Lionel Miller, an uncle of the legendary all-rounder Keith Miller. (Looked like him too) Great bloke. He (Lionel) had spent a few days with T. E. Lawrence in the desert. Reckoned he was a right bastard. Movie was great.


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  10. Old bloke says:
    August 4, 2022 at 3:16 pm
    Bruce of Newcastle says:
    August 4, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Marvellous movie, well worth watching again. I must read the WW1 AIF history of those years in Palestine, I have the books just haven’t gotten to them yet.
    You will find in those books that it was the Australians (10th Light Horse Regiment) who took the surrender of Damascus before T. E. Lawrence showed up. It was a wheat farmer from Western Australia, Arthur Olden, who took the surrender.

    Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” is half truths mixed with facts, he was an interesting though confused individual. That doesn’t detract from the movie though which was very good.

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a terrific read, but, as you say, it does mix facts with versions of the truth which os questionable.

    T.E. Lawrence was an incredibly fascinating person, notwithstanding his exploits in Arabia, but also post WWI with his involvement with at the Paris Peace Conference and the RAF.


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  11. Further to my request to the hon. Bruce of Newcastle: it occurs to me that, with Bruce at the helm and with certain notable exceptions, the entire commentariat on this site could run the government of this country far more effectively than the current Uniparty. And at a fraction of the expense to wealth creators across Australia. And then have time to go home on weekends to worship and feast and come back refreshed on Monday morning.

    It’s not rocket science.

    First: Stop. Doing. Harm!

    But, paradoxically, in accordance with that proviso, really harm – ie, completely abolish – Depts like Education, and of course the ABC.


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  12. You’re right Hugh.

    I can’t recall who said it but, to paraphrase, if you took a random 100 names out of the phone book they’d make a better fist of governing than the current crop of low-life scum we have now.


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  13. Thanks Hugh !

    No shortage of great movies from yesteryear (last century) to review and critique; and I hope, it’s a little distraction from the utter insanity today’s world is – I know it is for me.

    Ironically, my planned movie review for next week is . . . shock horror . . . a film from this century !


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