Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The 100 Best Movies: #31

31. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Yet another long epic film that makes the list and this one, directed by David Lean, is phenomenal. Based on the writings of T. E. Lawrence regarding his experiences in the Middle East during World War I, Lean's grand style is unmistakable. The phtotography is sweeping and gives the audience the pictorial feel of the desert. In the all-important role of Lawrence, Lean cast an unknown in his film debut: Peter O'Toole. O'Toole delivers an extremely stunning performance in the title role. Lawrence (as played by O'Toole) is fascinating, intelligent, frustrating and even arrogant. He is truly a complex protagonist and O'Toole sets the screen on fire with his portrayal. The supporting players are just as thrilling in this war adventure. This exciting cast includes Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Claude Rains, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quayle and (in a small role) Jose Ferrer. The movie also features a gorgeous score by Maurice Jarre and a brilliant adapted screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson (whose screen credit was denied because of the blacklist). Both Jarre and Bolt reunited with Lean again in 1965 for Doctor Zhivago, cementing Lean's mark on the epic films of the 1960's. Lawrence of Arabia was a massive hit with audiences, critics and the awards circuit (winning several Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director). Peter O'Toole would have won the Academy Award for Best Actor had he not had the unfortunate luck of coming up against Gregory Peck's captivating performance in #50: To Kill a Mockingbird (beginning O'Toole's own "Oscar Curse").

Next Post: #30

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