T.E. Lawrence was what a friend of mine calls a ‘transethnic,’ like the couple of Italian guys you always see playing bagpipes in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Lawrence of Arabia’s Lawrence (Peter O’Toole, who inhabits the role) tries to explain to an Arab friend how he is ‘different’ from the ‘fat’ people of his home in England’s Oxfordshire, but he can’t seem to make even himself understand. David Lean’s gorgeous film — one of the greatest movies ever made and one of my very favorites — captures this enigmatic man beautifully.
The Life of Emile Zola is a curiously uninvolving biopic — curious because the second half of the film operates at a distance from its professed subject, exchanging his for another man’s story.
Get past the set pieces that date the movie and make it twice as long as it might be, and The Great Ziegfeld — a biopic of theatrical impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. — is a moving story of how the weaknesses and obsessions that ironically made one man a powerful entertainment mogul inevitably brought about his downfall.
As we approach another century’s turn, it’s educational to look back at how society dealt with the last big rollover. Cavalcade follows the fortunes and misfortunes of two Victorian families — the prosperous Marryots and the working-classes Bridgeses — from New Year’s Eve 1899 to New Year’s Eve 1932.