Did you know....

Dirk Bogarde was cast as T.E. Lawrence in a 1950's biopic that never came to fruition.

Here is an excerpt from Bogarde's autobiography, Snakes and Ladders, which explains his enthusiasm about the part and ultimate disappointment when the film was called off.

"...Anthony Asquith arrived with a beautiful script by Rattigan on Lawrence of Arabia.

Although this could, under no circumstances, by termed Family Fun, to my delighted astonishment the Studio agreed. (Looking back from this distance it might just have been a ploy to shut me up.) This was to be no monumental epic, rather the straight-forward, if there could be such a term applied to such a man, story about Lawrence, starting in Uxbridge and ending with his still-unexplained death on the lovely country road to Clouds Hill. I had never, in my life, wanted a part, or script, so much. Asquith spent a lot of time helping me to put aside my very serious doubts about my ability, my physical resemblance (nil) and my acceptability in such a role. Locations were found and King Feisal offered us his entire army.

Mr. Davis insisted that an hour should be cut from the three-hour running time; this was reluctantly agreed to, and Script Conferences started daily, almost hourly. Wig fittings, costume fittings and intensive research now occupied my time entirely. I thought of nothing else but the man I was to represent, which was a word that Puffin Asquith and I agreed on mutually rather than the word "be". I could never "be" Lawrence, but we both felt that it could be possible to offer a portrait of the man to a public generally in ignorance of his stature. I read every book available on his work and life, wrote to his friends, received warm and encouraging letters in return, especially from Geoffrey Woolley who even sent me unpublished letters and a mass of deeply considered information, and quite lost my own identity in what the Americans call a period of total immersion.

So lost was I in preparation and absorption that I took little, if any, notice of what was going on around me: all I could think of was the strange blond wig which was slowly, and carefully, taking shape in Make-Up, and the probable starting date in the desert of April 7th. I didn't take any notice at all of what was happening about the Studios, which is why I was so completely unprepared for Olive Dodd's cool, impersonal, business-voice on the telephone on Friday, March 14th at six-thirty precisely to announce that "Lawrence" was now off...."


Terence Towles Canote said...

It's too bad the film never came to fruition. Dirk would have been great as T. E. Lawrence.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree!! As much as I adore Peter O'Toole, it would be interesting to see what Dirk Bogarde would have done with the part!

I'm beginning to think I could have a second career in transcription, It was pretty easy to type that up from the book! lol

Vanwall said...

Dang! That would've been an interesting film. Dirk underestimated himself a bit, he would've been a excellent Lawrence, and a '50s version, with Asquith and Rattigan involved, might have had a less epic scale, altho I can imagine the look with Faisal's army on thousands of horses. B&W, tho?

Robert Leeming said...

Haha....no he was definitely right to turn it down. The part is to physical for him...to much fighting and general adventuring. The man himself as he admitted struggled to walk in a straight line. Just look at his valiant attempts to play badminton in Accident! Dirk is best when sinister, an outsider,when sensuous...he's also a grade A bumbler i.e Hot Enough For June.

He turned down Laurence Olivier when he asked Dirk to play Hamlet in the first ever National Theatre production to....probably for the same reasons.

Anonymous said...

That's probably true.. though it seems like they were planning on making a more intellectual biopic, not on the same sweeping, epic, physical scale as the one that was eventually made - maybe with more concentration on the politics and less desert fighting scenes?

Of course, it would have been made in the 50's, when he was making movies like Hunted & Simba, which required a little more physicality. Also he's an athlete in The Spanish Gardener, I think.. maybe he did have it in him to do that kind of a role in the 50's?

Ooh! I didn't think the badminton was nearly as bad as that strange football (?) sequence at the party!! That was another example of how awkward his character was, just standing there, having no idea how to get involved in the game (and when he finally did, it seemed like he was pummeled!) Though I have to admit the awkwardness of that scene really brought back memories of high school gym class. Eek!