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The film opens with Lawrence (O'Toole) as a civilian, riding his motorcycle down a narrow English country road, only to be killed when he tries to avoid a collision with a couple of bicyclists. His funeral is staged at St. Paul's Cathedral. Reporters try to gain insights into this remarkable, but enigmatic man, from people who knew him but with little success. The movie then flashes back to Cairo during World War I, where Lawrence is a misfit British lieutenant, notable only for his insolence and knowledge of the Bedouin. Over the objections of a sceptical General Murray (Donald Wolfit), he is sent by Mr. Dryden (Claude Rains) of the Arab Bureau to assess the prospects of Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness) in his revolt against the Turks, allies of the Germans. On his journey, his Bedouin guide is killed by Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) for drinking from his well without permission. Just outside Faisal's camp, he encounters his superior officer, Colonel Brighton (Anthony Quayle), who orders him to keep quiet, make his assessment and then leave. He promptly ignores these commands when he meets Feisal. His fine intellect and outspokeness piques the prince's interest. Brighton advises the Arab leader to retreat after a major defeat, but Lawrence proposes an alternative, an attack on Aqaba. If taken, the town would provide a port from which the British could offload much-needed supplies for the rebellion, but it is too strongly guarded against a naval assault. However, Lawrence proposes an assault on the lightly-defended landward side. He convinces Faisal to provide fifty men on camels, led by Sherif Ali. As they prepare to leave, two teenage orphan boys, Daud (John Dimech) and Farraj (Michel Ray), attach themselves to Lawrence as his servants. They cross the Nefud Desert, considered impassable even by the Bedouins, travelling day and night on the last stage to reach water. Gasim (I. S. Johar) succumbs to fatigue and falls off his camel unnoticed during the night. The rest make it to an oasis, but Lawrence turns back for the lost man, risking his own life. When he successfully rescues Gasim, the Bedouins are convinced he enjoys the favor of Allah.

Having crossed the desert, Lawrence meets with Auda abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn), the leader of the powerful local Howeitat tribe, and convinces him to turn against the Turks. Lawrence's plans are almost derailed when one of Ali's men kills one of Auda's because of a blood feud. Since no Howeitat can retaliate without angering Ali's followers, Lawrence declares that he will execute the murderer himself. He is stunned to discover that the culprit is Gasim, the man whose life he had saved, but he shoots him regardless. The intact alliance then sweeps into Aqaba and captures it in a surprise attack. Auda is less than pleased though, as the Turkish money captured there is all in paper form, not gold as Lawrence had claimed. Lawrence heads to Cairo, to inform Dryden and the new commanding general, General Allenby (Jack Hawkins), of his victory. Crossing the Sinai Desert, his servant Daud dies when he stumbles into quicksand. Upon his return, Lawrence is promoted two ranks to major and given arms and money to support the Arabs. He asks Allenby whether the Arabs' suspicions have any basis, that the British have designs on Arabia after the Turks are driven out; the general says at first that he's not a politician, then, when pressed, that they don't. Lawrence launches a guerrilla war, blowing up trains and harassing the Turks at every turn. American war correspondent Jackson Bentley (Arthur Kennedy) makes him world famous by publicizing his exploits. With winter approaching, many of the tribesmen go home for the year, leaving fewer and fewer die-hard supporters to continue fighting. On one raid, Farraj is badly injured when the detonator he is carrying blows up prematurely. Unwilling to leave him for the Turks to torture, Lawrence is forced to shoot him before fleeing. Down to twenty men, he scouts the enemy-held city of Daraa with Ali, but is taken, along with several Arabs, to the decadent Turkish Bey (Jose Ferrer). He is beaten and apparently raped (offscreen) and then thrown out into the street. Traumatized by the experience, he abandons the fight and makes a futile attempt to return to ordinary life. Lawrence and the Arab Council in Damascus. Auda abu Tayi is seated on the left, Sherif Ali on the right.In Jerusalem, Allenby convinces him to go back to the fighting, to support his "big push" on Damascus, but Lawrence is a changed, tormented man. Now reveling in the killing, he orders "No prisoners!", resulting in the slaughter of the retreating Turkish soldiers at Tafas. Many in the army he gathers together are motivated by money, rather than the Arab cause. Even so, they take Damascus before Allenby. The Arabs set up a council to administer the city, but they are tribesmen, not a nation. Unable to maintain the electricity, telephones and waterworks, and clashing constantly with each other, they soon abandon most of Damascus to the British. Lawrence is promoted to colonel, then sent home, his usefulness at an end. The negotiations are left to Faisal and the British and French diplomats.

Starring ... Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn,
Jack Hawkins, Josť Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains

Director: David Lean
Producer: Sam Spiegel

Year Released - Dec. 1962

Length - 227 minutes

Music Composer: Maurice Jarre

Movie Distributed by
Horizon Pictures and Columbia Pictures

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