Best Picture Winners Part 35 (of 87): Lawrence of Arabia

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Title: Lawrence of Arabia
Year: 1962
Starring: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Runtime: 3 hr 36 mins

What It Is: A biographical account of a British soldier working under an assumed name during World War I. This soldier T.E. Lawrence is given leave to check out the goings on with the Arab revolt against the Turks and their Ottoman Empire. Not only is this film a must see for any cinephile, but it’s perhaps one of the greatest films ever put to celluloid. If not for a career performance out of Gregory Peck I think Peter O’Toole wins the Oscar and history is made as he never actually win one despite being one of the best actors to ever grace the screen. This is truly the definition of the Hollywood epic, and you can see how the academy would have been easily romanced with such a picture.

Memorable Quote: Mr. Dryden: If we’ve been telling lies, you’ve been telling half-lies. A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.

Competition: Pretty good! First up is a great recreation of D-Day, one on the scale of the Hollywood epic. Called The Longest Day this is a film that needed five directors, yet it is tightly wound together by performances from John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and Henry Fonda. Wow what a cast. Next up is The Music Man. As its title suggest this is a film chuck full o great music. It performances haven’t aged well but it is nonetheless a great look at the musical genre. Shirley Jones is truly charming despite the films over abundance of Hollywood pastiche. Mutiny on the Bounty is nowhere near as good as its previous Best Picture winning adaptation from 1935. Instead of Gable and Laughton we get Marlon Brando fudging his English accent and Trevor Howard trying his hand at Captain Bligh. Sadly he’s no Laughton though. What an incredible year, one that saw To Kill a Mockingbird and Lawrence of Arabia at the same time. Gregory Peck is pith perfect as a widowed attorney defending a man condemned solely on his skin color. It is the anti-Lawrence of Arabia, devoid of that films color and its scope it is nonetheless a classic.

 

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