AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Lawrence of Arabia
Director: David Lean (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Dec 1962
Premiere Information:   London opening: 9 Dec 1962; New York opening: 16 Dec 1962; Los Angeles opening: 22 Dec 1962
Production Date:   at Shepperton Studios, London
Duration (in mins):   180 or 220-222
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Cast: Introducing Peter O'Toole ([T. E.] Lawrence)  
    Alec Guinness (Prince Feisal)  
    Anthony Quinn (Auda Abu Tayi)  
    Jack Hawkins (General Allenby)  
    Omar Sharif (Sherif Ali [ibn el Kharish])  
    José Ferrer (Turkish bey)  
    Anthony Quayle (Colonel [Harry] Brighton)  
    Claude Rains (Mr. Dryden)  
    Arthur Kennedy (Jackson Bentley)  
    Donald Wolfit (General Murray)  
    I. S. Johar (Gasim)  
    Gamil Ratib (Majid)  
    Michel Ray (Farraj)  
    John Dimech (Daud)  
    Zia Mohyeddin (Tafas)  
    Howard Marion Crawford (Medical officer)  
    Jack Gwillim (Club secretary)  
    Hugh Miller (R.A.M.C. colonel)  
    Kenneth Fortescue (Allenby's aide)  
    Stuart Saunders (Regimental sergeant-major)  
    Fernando Sancho (Turkish sergeant)  
    Henry Oscar (Reciter)  
    Norman Rossington (Corp. Jenkins)  
    John Ruddock (Elder Harith)  
    M. Cher Kaoui    
    Mohammed Habachi    

Summary: In 1916 British Intelligence supports the Arab rebellion against the Turkish-German alliance. Dryden, a civilian member of the Arab Bureau, selects Lt. T. E. Lawrence, an enigmatic twenty-nine-year-old scholar, to evaluate the Arab revolt. Enthusiastically undertaking this assignment, the officer contacts Prince Feisal, a rebel leader, and persuades Feisal to lend him a force of fifty men. With this skeleton band, accompanied by Sherif Ali ibn el Karish, Lawrence crosses the Nefud Desert. At the journey's end, however, Lawrence learns that one of his men is missing. Undeterred by Arab assertions that the missing man's death had been divinely decreed, Lawrence returns to the desert and rescues him, earning thereby Ali's friendship and the respect of his subordinates. At a well Lawrence is confronted by the sheikh Auda Abu Tayi, whom he persuades to join the assault on Aqaba, a Turkish port at the desert's edge. The Turks, surprised by the overland attack, are routed, and the victory revitalizes the Arab rebellion. Arab unity, however, is undermined by internecine warfare. When one of his troop slays one of Auda Abu Tayi's henchmen, Lawrence in expiation executes the murderer, who proves to be the Arab he had saved in the desert. Unnerved, Lawrence returns to Cairo. Delighted by Lawrence's military success, however, General Allenby provides him with arms and money for future victories. Lawrence launches a series of successful guerrilla raids, which, as reported by American journalist Jackson Bentley, establish his international reputation. While on a scouting mission with Ali, Lawrence is captured and tortured by the Turks. He returns to Cairo, where General Allenby persuades him to spearhead an attack on Damascus. After the battle, Lawrence leads his men in the massacre of the retreating Turks. Upon entering Damascus the British Army is met by victorious Arab forces. Lawrence relinquishes control of the city to an Arab Council, but soon factionalism threatens to destroy it. On May 19, 1935, Lawrence dies in a motorcycle crash in Dorset, England, and is commemorated in services at St. Paul's. 

Production Company: Horizon Pictures (G.B.), Ltd.  
Production Text: The Sam Spiegel-David Lean Production
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: David Lean (Dir)
  Andre Smagghe (2d unit dir)
  Noel Howard (2d unit dir)
  Roy Stevens (Asst dir)
Producer: Sam Spiegel (Prod)
  David Lean (Prod)
Writer: Robert Bolt (Scr)
  Michael Wilson (Scr)
Photography: F. A. Young (Dir of photog)
  Skeets Kelly (2d unit photog)
  Nicolas Roeg (2d unit photog)
  Peter Newbrook (2d unit photog)
  Ernest Day (Cam op)
  Archie Dansie (Chief elec)
Art Direction: John Box (Prod des)
  John Stoll (Art dir)
  Roy Rossotti (Asst art dir)
  George Richardson (Asst art dir)
  Terence Marsh (Asst art dir)
  Tony Rimmington (Asst art dir)
Film Editor: Anne V. Coates (Ed)
Set Decoration: Dario Simoni (Set dresser)
  Eddie Fowlie (Prop master)
  Peter Dukelow (Const mgr)
  Fred Bennett (Const asst)
Costumes: Phyllis Dalton (Cost des)
  John Wilson-Apperson (Ward)
Music: Maurice Jarre (Mus comp)
  Gerard Schurmann (Orch)
  The London Philharmonic Orchestra (Played by)
  Sir Adrian Boult (Cond)
  Morris Stoloff (Mus coord)
Sound: Winston Ryder (Sd ed)
  Paddy Cunningham (Sd rec)
  John Cox (Sd dubbing)
Special Effects: Cliff Richardson (Spec eff)
Make Up: Charles Parker (Makeup)
  A. G. Scott (Hairdresser)
Production Misc: John Palmer (Prod mgr)
  Douglas Twiddy (Loc mgr)
  Maude Spector (Casting dir)
  Barbara Cole (Cont)
  Marie Budberg (Research)
Country: Great Britain and United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Horizon Pictures (G.B.) Ltd. 19/12/1962 dd/mm/yyyy LP25769

Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound Recording
  col: Technicolor
  gauge: 35mm & 70mm
  Widescreen/ratio: Super-Panavision 70

 
Genre: Adventure
  Biography
Sub-Genre: Historical
  Historical
 
Subjects (Major): Arab countries--History--Arab revolt, 1916--1918
  Arabs
  Bedouins
  English in foreign countries
  Great Britain. Army
  T. E. Lawrence
  World War I
 
Subjects (Minor): Americans in foreign countries
  Edmund Allenby
  Cairo (Egypt)
  Damascus (Syria)
  Deserts
  Guerrilla warfare
  Massacres
  Military life
  Motorcycle accidents
  Reporters
  Revolutions
  Soldiers
  Torture
  Turks
  War heroes

Note: In the onscreen credits, the assistant art directors are listed as "R. Rossotti, G. Richardson, T. Marsh, A. Rimmington." A statement in the closing credits reads: "Photographed on overseas locations." The closing credits also acknowledge the Royal Hashemite Government of Jordan and the Royal Government of Morocco.
       Works of T. E. Lawrence that were used as background for Lawrence of Arabia included Seven Pillars of Wisdom (London, 1926) and its abridgement, Revolt in the Desert (London, 1927), The Diary of T. E. Lawrence, MCMXI (London, 1937) and The Letters of T. E. Lawrence (London, 1938). Portions of the film were shot on location in Saudi Arabia. At the time of the film's release, Michael Wilson, who was blacklisted in the 1950s, did not receive screen credit for co-writing the screenplay with Robert Bolt. However, his credit was restored by the WGA in 1978, and in 1995, he was granted an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Lawrence of Arabia , an honor that initially had been bestowed solely on Bolt. In video versions of the film, Wilson and Bolt are both credited with the screenplay. Lawrence of Arabia was ranked 7th on AFI's 2007 100 Years...100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving down from the 5th position it occupied on AFI's 1997 list. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   17 Dec 1962   p.
Filmfacts   25 Jan 1963   pp. 343-46.
Films and Filming   Feb 1963   pp. 32-33.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Dec 1962   p. 3.
Life   14 Dec 1962   oo, 118-19.
Los Angeles Times   17 Dec 1962   Section IV, p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   9 Jan 1963   p. 732.
New Republic   12 Jan 1963   pp. 26-28.
New York Times   17 Dec 1962   p. 5.
Newsweek   24 Dec 1962   p. 64.
Saturday Review   29 Dec 1962   pp. 29-30.
Time   4 Jan 1963   p. 58.
Variety   19 Dec 1962   p. 6.
Village Voice   20 Dec 1962   p. 16.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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