By Norm Robins and Randy Pelish
The greatest motion picture epic ever made, Lawrence of Arabia, will be back with us September 1st and 4th. Except for the child actor Michel Rey the cast has all passed away, but what a cast it was. Peter O’Toole played Lawrence. The cast included Alec Guinness as Faisal, Anthony Quinn as the pragmatic, grasping Auda abu Tayi, José Ferrer as the homosexual Turkish commander, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, and Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali.
The film was nominated for 10 Oscars in 1963. It won seven of them including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture—Drama and the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards for Best Film and Outstanding British Film.
This film is based on Lawrence’s memoirs of World War I Seven Pillars of Wisdom, mostly, that tells a true story, mostly. During the War Lieutenant Lawrence, a known misfit, is sent to Arabia with a cache of gold to buy the loyalty of Prince Faisal and enlist him in Britain’s war against the Turkish Empire. Lawrence proposes to Faisal a daring attack across the Nefud Desert, something considered to be impassable by the Bedouins, against the port city of Aqaba. Conquering it would provide Faisal with an important psychological victory and the key to Damascus to the north, and it would provide the British with an important port for offloading materiel for their war against the Turks. Faisal buys into the proposal. He assigns 50 of his men to Lawrence. The Nefud crossing and the Aqaba attack are on.
The story will enthrall you. The acting will amaze you. The music will linger in your head for a long time. But be warned, bring some liquid with you to the theater because the exceptionally evocative cinematography crossing the Nefud just before the intermission will leave your throat parched and you yearning for a long, long drink of something wet and cold.
Lawrence of Arabia will play at the Century Riverside 12 and the Century Summit Sierra on September 1st and 4th only. This is a film not to be missed.