Usually when people talk about David Lean, they only talk about The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and I guess to some extent Doctor Zhivago (I don’t know why, since it’s not particularly good). But Dave did have a career before those big epics, and I certainly haven’t seen them all yet.
Oliver Twist – The b/w photography in here is terrific. Alec Guinness was charged with anti-semitism by some groups for his portrayal of Fagin, thus delaying its release in some countries (including the US). You be the judge (personally I found him more offensive as an Indian in A Passage to India).
The Bridge on the River Kwai – Starring Obi Wan Kenobi and Sessue Hayakawa (did you know Hayakawa was a Hollywood silent film star?) I guess Bill Holden’s in there too. Great Movie. Francois Truffaut did not have nice things to say about this movie: “For a real filmmaker, nothing could be more boring to make than a Bridge on the River Kwai: scenes set inside offices alternating with discussions between old fogies and some action scenes usually filmed by another crew. Rubbish, traps for fools, Oscar machines.” (from The Films In My Life pp.86- 87). That’s kinda harsh Frankie. I disagree with you totally on this one. You’re not one to talk after some of the boring shit you’ve made (Fahrenheit 451 anyone?)
Lawrence of Arabia – Darn good movie, made before CGI. This is one reason CGI crowds and battles have no affect on me. When it’s done for real, you feel it. Peter O’Toole’s debut as a lead (and what a fine debut it was). It won Oscars for almost everything including cinematography by the great Freddie Young, and one for editing by the equally great Anne V. Coates. Be sure to watch it on your iPhone to get the full effect.