Posts Tagged ‘lawrence of arabia’

1. Casablanca (1943)

Other Nominated Films:
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, In Which We Serve, Madame Curie, The More the Merrier, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Song of Bernadette, Watch on the Rhine

Casablanca is a unique film in many ways. For one, it only won three Academy Awards. You have films like Ben-Hur which won 11 Oscars, All About Eve which was nominated for 14 and won 6, and plenty of other films that were nominated and won more Oscars than Casablanca. Also, Casablanca is a relatively short film — the shortest of the Top 10 on this countdown (should note that Marty is the shortest film in history to win Best Picture at 90 minutes). Then, you have epic films like Ben-Hur (again), Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind, and all of them are great in their own ways. And finally, Casablanca was nominated for two acting awards, but came out empty handed. Humphrey Bogart would go on to lose to Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine and Claude Rains would lose to Charles Coburn in The More the MerrierCasablanca‘s storyline revolves around Rick Blaine (Bogart), a cynical American living in Casablanca in 1941. Rick runs a swank nightclub/gambling den known as “Rick’s Café Américain.” The joint attracts people of all kinds: the Vichy French, the Italians, and the Nazi’s for example. It is also a place where refugees go when trying to escape to the United States — as well as the men who are trying to catch them. Rick tries to keep neutral and detached in all matters involving the war. Petty crook Signor Ugarte (Peter Lorre) comes into Rick’s Cafe and brags to Rick about having “letters of transit” that were obtained through the murder of two German couriers. The significance of these papers is that they allow those who possess them the ability to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and into the neutral land of Portugal from where they could book passage to the United States. These papers would be considered a treasure by any refugees looking to get out of Casablanca.  Ugarte intends to sell the letters to the highest bidder at the club that night. Unfortunately, he is arrested by the local police under the command of corrupt Vichy Captain Louis Renault (Rains). Ugarte dies in custody without revealing to anyone that he had given the letters to Rick. The film really begins to move when Rick’s ex-lover and her husband arrive at the Cafe: Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). The reason for Rick’s cynical and bitter attitude lies in his past with Ilsa, and this is where I feel I should end.  For those of you who have seen Casablanca, you know that the rest is history…you know that this is the greatest love story ever told on the big screen. For those of you who have yet to see it…well…what are you waiting for? Casablanca is on seven of the American Film Institute‘s top 100 lists: #2 on Movies (although on the revised list it was bumped down to 3), #37 on Thrills, #1 on Passions, #4 on Heroes and Villains (Rick Blaine), #2 on Songs (As Time Goes By), #5, 20, 28, 32, 43, and 67 on Quotes, and #32 on Cheers. But that’s not all — in 2005, Casablanca was named one of the 100 greatest films over the last 80 years by Time.com (the films were not ranked), and in 2006, the Writers Guild of America, West voted Casablanca the best screenplay of all time in its 101 Greatest Screenplays list. I actually rented a book that contained Casablanca‘s screenplay, and I really have to say that it is truly a piece of art. I’ve read about 50 screenplays over the past few years and there are none that even come close to it. I can go on and on about how fantastic Casablanca truly is, but I think you understand what I’m saying. There’s only one way to end this piece, and that’s by giving you a fun fact. One of the most famous magazine publishers and night club owners was inspired by Casablanca. Who is it? you ask? The one and only Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Clubs.*


Winner of 3 Oscars, Nominated for 8
Best Director – Michael Curtiz (WON)
Best Picture – Warner Bros. (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay – Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Humphrey Bogart
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Claude Rains
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Arthur Edeson
Best Film Editing – Owen Marks
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – Max Steiner

(#5) Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.
(#20) Rick: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
(#28) Ilsa: Play it, Sam. Play “As Time Goes By.”
(#32) Captain Renault: Round up the usual suspects.
(#43) Rick: We’ll always have Paris.
(#67) Rick: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Source of Hugh Hefner Note: http://www.nbc.com/the-playboy-club/video/hef-on-the-history-of-the-clubs/1347658/

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4. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Other Nominated Films:
Peyton Place, Sayonara, 12 Angry Men, Witness for the Prosecution

I said this in an earlier post, but I feel that it’s only right to say it again: Davis Lean is one of the finest directors of all time. A few posts earlier, I spoke about the magnificence of what is, according to some critics, his best film ever, Lawrence of Arabia. Now, I’m here to present what I feel is the best film David Lean ever directed: The Bridge on the River Kwai. The film focuses on a unit of British soldiers who are brought to a Japanese prison camp.  The Japanese camp commandant, Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), addresses the new prisoners, telling them that, regardless of rank, they will be required to work on the construction of a bridge over the River Kwai. British commander, Lt. Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) takes great issue with this because the Geneva Conventions state that captured officers are exempt from manual labor. The next morning, Nicholson blatantly disregards Saito’s orders and refuses to let his officers work. Saito is infuriated and threatens to have the officers shot, but Nicholson stands firm. Major Clipton (James Donald), the British medical officer, intervenes, claiming that murdering the officers will result in scandal and inquiry. Saito instead decides to leave the officers behind all day to stand and suffer in the blazing heat. In the evening, Saito sends the officers to a punishment hut.  As for Nicholson, he is beaten, then sent to solitary confinement in his own special iron box known as “the oven”.  And so the intense battle of wills begins: Saito trying to force Nicholson’s officers to build the bridge and Nicholson willing to die for what he believes in. Clearly, one man must win, but I’m not going to spoil it for you by telling you who prevails!  Saito, at first glance, acts like a mad man: he disregards proper military code and brutally tortures prisoners to get his way. All of this is because he is morally bound to commit ritual suicide if he cannot complete the bridge on time.   On the other hand, Nicholson is, well…just as mad as Saito. Nicholson, a strict militarist is compelled to respect military code even on pain of death. This conflict sets up an interesting and advanced character study of these two individuals (it’s as if they were ‘made for each other’). The actor that truly made this film complete for me was Alec Guinness. My first exposure to Alec Guinness was in the BBC mini-series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as George Smiley. As Smiley, Guinness brought a sophisticated and calm approach to the role, and he was marvelous. Many people also know him for his role as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars films, which is, of course, one of the most memorable films of all time. But — The Bridge on the River Kwai would have to be, hands down, the best film that Guinness has ever made. He was able to bring the character of Colonel Nicholson to life, as if everything Nicholson believed was what Guinness himself believed as well.  In fact, during the casting of the film, there was a rumor about Charles Laughton being courted for the role of Colonel Nicholson. Apparently Laughton turned down the role since he felt he wouldn’t know how to play the part convincingly because he didn’t understand the character’s motivation. After watching the completed film with Guinness as Nicholson, Laughton understood.  Guinness would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, being the lone win of his career (excluding his Honorary Award). This would also be David Lean’s first win for Best Director and Sam Spiegel’s second win for Best Picture (#1 is #2 on this list). The Bridge on the River Kwai would win seven of the eight Academy Awards it was nominated for, and was the highest grossing film in the year 1958.

Nominated for 8 Oscars, Winner of 7
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Alec Guinness (WON)
Best Cinematography – Jack Hildyard (WON)
Best Director – David Lean (WON)
Best Film Editing – Peter Taylor (WON)
Best Music, Scoring – Malcolm Arnold (WON)
Best Picture – Sam Spiegel (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium – Pierre Boulle, Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson (WON)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Sessue Hayakawa

Colonel Nicholson: What have I done?

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7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Other Nominated Films:
The Longest Day, The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill a Mockingbird

Before I go on to talk about this film, I would just like to say one thing: David Lean is one of the finest directors of all time. Lean doesn’t have just one film in my Top 10, but two, one of which is ranked in my Top 5. Lawrence of Arabia is undoubtedly one of the greatest films ever made, and if that isn’t enough, it also revealed the greatness of actor Peter O’Toole to the world. The film opens with the death of Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) by a motorcycle accident. At his memorial service, reporters try to better understand who this remarkable and complicated man really was. From here, we flashback into the life of Lawrence and where his military career begins…Lawrence is a British Army lieutenant stationed in Cairo during World War I. Mr. Dryden of the Arab Bureau (Claude Rains) sends Lawrence to evaluate the progress of Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) in his revolt against the Turks. The journey is not an easy one but I won’t go into detail here so that you can see it for yourself — but I’ll continue talking about what happens next…At the end of this journey, Lawrence meets Colonel Brighton (Anthony Quayle), who tells him to be quiet, assess Faisal’s camp, and leave at once. Lawrence instead ignores Brighton’s orders and advises Faisal to attack Aqaba — and thus begins Lawrence’s exploits as he leads the Arab revolt against the Turks. Again, I don’t want to ruin the movie for you by going into any great detail here, but suffice to say that Lawrence uses guerilla warfare tactics and performs heroic feats but also experiences emotional struggles with acts of violence and his personal identityLawrence of Arabia was a huge success both critically and financially, and is still popular among viewers today. Critics have repeatedly cited the film’s impressive visuals, music and screenplay, as well as the magnificent performance of Peter O’Toole. O’Toole was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar, but would wind up losing to Gregory Peck who played Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (which is also one of the best films in the history of cinema). It’s interesting to compare O’Toole’s performance as Lawrence and Peck’s performance as Finch since they’re both ranked on the American Film Institute’s 100 Heroes and Villains list; O’Toole would be ranked as the 10th Hero, while Peck would be ranked as the #1 Hero. Both excellent performances; both iconic roles; and yet both very different types of heroes.  Lawrence of Arabia would be producer Sam Spiegel’s third Academy Award for Best Picture (the first two are #4 and #2 on this list),and David Lean’s second Academy Award for Best Director (the other being #4 on this list). O’Toole would go on to be nominated for another seven Academy Awards, but would not win any – however he was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award for his remarkable talents that “provided cinema with some of its most memorable characters.

Nominated for 10 Oscars, Winner of 7
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color – John Box, John Stoll, Dario Simoni (WON)
Best Cinematography, Color – Freddie Young (WON)
Best Director – David Lean (WON)
Best Film Editing – Anne V. Coates (WON)
Best Music, Score – Substantially Original – Maurice Jarre (WON)
Best Picture – Sam Spiegel (WON)
Best Sound – John Cox (Shepperton SSD) (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Peter O’Toole
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Omar Sharif
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium – Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson

Prince Feisal: But you know, Lieutenant, in the Arab city of Cordoba were two miles of public lighting in the streets when London was a village?
T.E. Lawrence: Yes, you were great.
Prince Feisal: Nine centuries ago.
T.E. Lawrence: Time to be great again, my lord.

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