Trivia: Lawrence of Arabia

  • AFIS 100 Years Series:
  • All-Star Cast: Besides O'Toole and Sharif, who became stars thanks to this movie, most of Lawrence's supporting cast were leading men in their own right (Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn) or veteran character actors (Arthur Kennedy, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains). You even have Oscar-winner Jose Ferrer in a glorified cameo. O'Toole once commented on how intimidating it was to act opposite so many seasoned costars.
  • Banned in China: Most Middle Eastern countries banned Lawrence during its original release, finding its portrayal of Arabs offensive. One exception was Egypt: Gamal Abdel Nasser reportedly loved the movie and it subsequently became a hit in that country.
  • Deleted Scenes: Despite the extensive restoration done in 1989, the currently available cut of Lawrence (216 minutes without overture and intermission) still misses several sequences present in the original 1962 release. The most famous is a longer version of Lawrence's meeting with Allenby in Jerusalem towards the end, the so-called "balcony" or "seduction" scene. According to Robert Harris this scene couldn't be restored because of a poor audio match. It is included in the 2012 Blu-Ray release, with Charles Gray dubbing Jack Hawkins as Allenby.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • Kind of. Half-Irish, half-Scottish Peter O'Toole, who might have been born in England or Ireland (he had two different birth certificates), as Welsh born but half Anglo-Irish and half Scots Lawrence. At any rate, they're both from the British Isles.
    • Though apparently Guinness bore such a striking resemblance to the real Faisal that people who didn't know he was dead thought he was the real deal, it's rather uncomfortable to a modern audience to see a white Englishman playing an Arab.
    • Mexican-American Anthony Quinn as Bedouin tribal leader Auda Abu Tayi.
    • Puerto Rican Jose Ferrer as the Turkish Turkish Bey.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!
  • Star-Making Role: Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif. O'Toole was an acclaimed stage actor, but only had a few minor film roles beforehand: Lean reportedly spotted him in The Day They Robbed the Bank of England, playing a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist. Sharif was already famous in Egypt, but this movie made him an international superstar.
  • Throw It In: Lawrence using his dagger-blade as a mirror was something that O'Toole came up with while shooting the scene.
  • Troubled Production: Check out the entry on the pertinent page. Along with Apocalypse Now and Heaven's Gate, Lawrence is pretty much a Trope Codifier.
  • What Could Have Been: Several actors were offered the leading role, including Marlon Brando, but Lean initially seemed set on Albert Finney, an unknown actor with few roles to his credit. Finney received an elaborate, four day screen test, performing scenes from early script drafts with several actors and reciting passages from Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Finney impressed Lean and producer Sam Spiegel, but Spiegel demanded Finney sign a multi-picture contract. Finney refused, instead performing his Star-Making Role in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning while Lawrence was still in production. Enter Peter O'Toole and the rest is history.
  • Word of Gay: When interviewed David Lean was pretty straightforward about this issue. He thought that one of Lawrence's key conflicts throughout the film was his inability to come to terms with his own homosexuality, and if you keep this in mind there are a lot of moments in the film that can be read in this way. He also compared the relationship between Lawrence and Ali to the doomed love affair in his heterosexual romance Brief Encounter.