Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: Lawrence of Century City

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Since I began with the Epics category with the start of my Versus AFI: 10 Top 10 arc, it was only fitting I’d chronicle a couple of them in this series.

Mr. Dryden: “Lawrence, only two kinds of creature get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.”
T.E. Lawrence: “No, Dryden, it’s going to be fun.”
Mr. Dryden: “It is recognized that you have a funny sense of fun.”


Theatre

The Century Plaza Cinemas:

Movie

Time

March 10, 1989: I first saw David Lean’s remarkable film, Lawrence of Arabia, like a few young people my age did: on a 60s or 70s network TV broadcast, coming out of some undersized television set at home. The experience was good, beyond doubt, but it lacked something. In no small wonder, the aspect that was definitely missing in the postage stamp environs that was my grandmother’s living room was the grandeur and scale of this 1963 epic being shown on the big screen. In 1989, the studio re-released the restored director’s cut to a handful of theaters in the U.S. capable of showing it as the filmmakers and film historians and preservationists intended. Coincidentally, the revival screening opened the week before my bride and I were to be married. The Century Plaza theaters in Century City was to be one of the sites for this back then.

Each of the venue’s 1000-seat twin halls were equipped to show 70mm films in high-tech Dolby sound at the time. And two of us just had to see this film… all 216 minutes, two parts and an intermission, of it. New wifey and me, you ask? Ah… no. Believe it or not, the other in this case was the new mother-in-law that came with the marriage. Somehow, the old battle-axe and I convinced (separately mind you… we didn’t do tandem anything back then) my new spouse to go to the screening. Just so you know, only after the bride and groom returned from their honeymoon. I’m not nuts… give me some credit for what was important here. In a word, the experience that Friday evening of finally catching this in a packed and darkened movie theater, eyes glued to a wide and large screen, was Epic.

The entire series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

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21 Responses to “TMT: Lawrence of Century City”

  1. Scott Lawlor

    I really need to see this film. It is the only one I am lacking form my top 10 from BFI!

    Love the cinema too, reminds me of our Brighton Centre

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    • le0pard13

      Oh, yeah, don’t miss this one, Scott. It is among the greats. This was a great place to watch a movie — the old Shubert Theatre for stage work was there, too. Alas, like too many great things here in Los Angeles, this center were demolished, sadly, to build something else :-(. Thanks for the read and the comment, my friend.

      p.s., if you link to that Brighton Centre, I’d love to take a gander at it.

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  2. ruth

    I’ve only seen parts of this film, I know shame on me! I WILL watch this epic before year’s end, I promise. I know my mother loved Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif (she was a woman with great taste obviously), and David Lean’s cinematography is definitely one to see on the big screen. I wish they’d re-release this one in my local cinema.

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      • ruth

        I have such poor memory I didn’t remember you had posted this a while back. In any case, it’s still fun to read this again Michael. Oh my, the theater was equipped w/ 70mm films in high-tech Dolby sound??!! I’m even MORE jealous of you now 😀

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    • Ronan

      Tut tut Ruth! 😉 I’ve never seen this on the big screen either but I’d love to. Your mother certainly did have good taste Ruth. I’m a bloke and even I thought Omar Sharif was dashing… in a windswept and interesting kid of way 🙂

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      • le0pard13

        Yep. There were some dashing figures in this one…

        See that Bears’ game last week?” “Hell of a game.” 😉

        Thanks, Ronan.

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        • rtm

          She fell for Mr. Sharif in Dr. Zhivago 😀 I’m quite surprised she never mentioned Gregory Peck though, but she definitely instilled some love of classic films in me.

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    • le0pard13

      I’m really quite lucky to have been situated in a place where such opportunities came into being with my movie watching. This screening was certainly memorable, alright. Many thanks, Colin.

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  3. Ronan

    I love that story about you and your mother-in-law Michael. Talk about your ‘…burning, fiery furnaces!’… 😉 I would love to see this on the big screen. I hope it comes to a multi-plex near me soon. I remember the first time I saw it. I treated myself to the special edition, director’s cut box-set (with the remainder of my student loan) and, like you Micahel, watched it on the tiny screen on the TV in my room at my parent’s house. It made a profound impression on me in miniature so I can only imagine the effect the full blown experience would have! Thanks for another in a fantastic series Michael.

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    • le0pard13

      Hehe… LoA is well worth seeing on the largest screen possible, alright. Be it a 20″ CRT, a 50″ flat panel HDTV, or in a darkened theater with a crowd of the similarly interested. Thanks for the kind words and for reading/commenting, my friend.

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