September 9, 2007

When David Lean started out he made great movies. Brief Encounter, I remember, broke my sixteen year old PBS watching heart. His Great Expectations is better than the Cliffs Notes version (although you gotta be careful with Sir David’s ending: a little too happy if you know what I mean). Alec Guiness’s Herbert Pocket is one of my most favorite novel characters come to life, ever. Vivien Leigh as Scarlett is numero uno, though.

I guess Mr. Lean forgot about love and romance and great novels and women characters (there are no speaking parts for women in Lawrence of Arabia–just some ululaters) and began shooting epics. Bridge on the River Kwai is long, Lawrence of Arabia is even longer and certainly sandier. However, Peter O’ Toole, as T.E Lawrence, in 1962 was way too pretty for this world.

By 1982 and, My Favorite Year, he wasn’t so pretty.

But My Favorite Year is a great and fun movie and Lawrence of Arabia is not. Fun. At. All. But it’s sorta of pretty. But, it was a quite the big hurdle for me. And I jumped that hurdle. Well, limped it, really. I tried to follow, really, I did. I know now that you should never have a war in a desert. It’s kinda big bloody mistake. Hi, George.

Wikipedia says that Lawrence is a favorite movie of those predominant movie guys that we love today: Spielberg , Lucas and Scorcese. I just don’t get it. Even though Lawrence of Arabia boasts a great cast (Claude Raines, Jose Ferrer, Anthony “scene stealer” Quinn, Omar Sharif) it’s just about sand and war. And sand. And war. And sand. And some nice music. And Peter O’Toole’s piercing blue eyes. And sand. Oh, and war.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should have taken a break in 1962 from awarding Best Picture Oscars to epic motion pictures (Bridge on the River Kwai, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia) to awarding pictures about daily American life such as, sigh, the classic To Kill A Mockingbird. 1962’s best could have been a roman a clef of the depression era south with a young Truman Capote-ish boy and a little girl in a ham costume fighting race relations and introducing the world to the concept of a chiffarobe. OK, and also great film adaptation of one of the greatest American novels, ever. I think I spent four out of the seven and a half hours of Lawrence of Arabia muttering “this should have been To Kill a Mockingbird. But, alas the late fifties – early sixties best pictures are pretty much all about epics. I can’t wait until we get to 1969. God bless John Schlesinger.

Things I liked, or noted

  • Anthony Quinn is brilliant. Every scene he is in he steals.
  • Jose Ferrer really liked his performance in this movie. I like Jose Ferrer in every performance. One of the best actors ever.
  • Twenty years after Casablanca, Claude Raines lookes great and is great; Yay Clauide Raines!
  • Has an Academy Award winning film ever used the color beige so much? I don’t thing so.
  • For some reason, and it’s my fault because I started it, we kept calling this movie “Lawrence of Olivier.” It was a hard habit to break.
  • I really would love to ride on a camel one day. If the camel wouldn’t mind.

For dinner we had warmed pita bread with some red pepper hummus and a classic grilled Shish Kebob that we bought pre-threaded from the store. We had beef and chicken. It was good and a little, appropriately, dry.

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