'Lawrence Of Arabia,' Starring Peter O'Toole: Facts And Trivia About The Epic

By | August 1, 2020

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Actor Peter O'Toole takes a break in the Jordanian Desert during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

At nearly four hours long, Lawrence of Arabia is a career defining performance by Peter O’Toole, and it’s one of the greatest films ever made. Directed by David Lean and also featuring Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharif, the film is based on the true story of T.E. Lawrence and his time in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The story follows the heroic military leader as he grapples with the horrors of war and the camaraderie of his fellow freedom fighters. The 1962 film swept award season, which the crew must have felt good about because they spent more than year working on the movie in the desert, succumbing to heat stroke, and stampeding horses.

Films about T.E. Lawrence were never able to get off the ground

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source: Columbia Pictures

Following the death of T.E. Lawrence in 1935, a series of productions based on his autobiography, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, went into pre-production but never got off the ground. It wasn’t until director David Lean and producer Sam Spiegel, hot off The Bridge on the River Kwai, tried and failed to make a movie about Gandhi that they decided to shift their attention to Lawrence’s story.

After buying the right to The Seven Pillars of Wisdom for £22,500 the duo launched into a truncated pre-production in order to keep their momentum. On Lean’s part, he was unsure about how to film in the desert so he watched John Ford’s The Searchers to get an idea about how he wanted to handle the story.