Last week’s post on the low budget 1944 film, “Action in Arabia
,” drew an interesting comment from Sergio, who blogs at the terrific site, Tipping My Fedora
.” He said the large scale shots of Arab fighters were filmed years earlier for a never-completed movie about T.E. Lawrence. This intrigued me enough to hunt for more about this early version of “Lawrence of Arabia.”
In a 2011 post on “Action in Arabia,” Mark Gabrish Conlan
said Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack planned a Lawrence film after they finished “King Kong.” They took the first production steps, sending Schoedsack to the Middle East to shoot scenes of mounted Arab fighters. The Lawrence film was cancelled and years later, the scenes filmed wound up in “Action in Arabia”.
|COOPER & SCHOEDSACK|
The Cooper and Schoedsack production that almost happened makes for a great “one-that-got-away” story. Before making their now famous studio productions in Hollywood, the team made some fine documentaries in far off places during the silent era. A great one is “Grass” from 1925. Cooper and Schoedsack recorded the journey of a tribe of about 50,000 people and their livestock over mountains between Turkey and Iran to reach good grazing lands.
Another site, Crawley’s Casting Calls
, provides the bumpy history of attempts to make a movie about T.E. Lawrence. Crawley’s says Cooper and Schoedsack also considered hiring Howard Hawks to direct Ronald Colman as Lawrence. Around the same time, producer Alexander Korda also wanted to make a “Lawrence of Arabia” with Leslie Howard playing Lawrence, which would have been excellent casting. Korda produced some big pictures with exotic locals around that time, including “The Four Feathers” in 1939. His Lawrence film could have been a Technicolor spectacular.
Cooper and Schoedsack had also produced a version of “The Four Feathers” in 1929.
Too bad Korda, Cooper and Schoedsack could not have teamed up. They would have made a terrific movie. But, if they had, we may never have gotten David Lean’s great 1962 film.
And Lean’s casting of Peter O’Toole in the lead (although not his first choice), was pretty darn good, too.
(For more posts on movies and television, check out Todd Mason’s blog
As Lawrence didn't die until 1935 it's likely that the film would have had to have another central character anyway before that. "Smith of Arabia" doesn't have quite the same ring to it...ReplyDelete