Which Is The Better Best Picture: It Happened One Night or Lawrence of Arabia?

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IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

Frank Capra’s 1934 screwball comedy, the charming story of a runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert) and a down on his luck newspaper reporter (Clark Gable), was the first movie to win all of the five major Oscar prizes — Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay (then called “Writing”). At the prior year’s Oscar ceremony, director Frank Capra had embarrassed himself by walking towards the stage upon hearing presenter Will Roger say, “Come and get it, Frank,” an exhortation directed at Cavalcade director Frank Lloyd. This time, there was no mistake. Over in the Best Actress category, Colbert didn’t even show up to the ceremony, so sure was she of a loss. She was at a train station heading out of town when she was informed of her victory. The Best Actress was rushed back to the ceremony, where little Shirley Temple stood upon a chair and presented her with the Oscar. A movie about class differences in the middle of the Great Depression, and the first comedy to win Best Picture, It Happened One Night remains one of Hollywood’s most delightfully funny films.

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LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

An epic for the ages, by a director who was in the midst of a trilogy of epics (Bridge on the River Kwai before, Doctor Zhivago after), Lawrence of Arabia finds its power in concepts of largeness — the massive desert in which so much of it is set, the booming, overwhelming Maurice Jarre score, the larger-than-life personality of T.E. Lawrence, so hypnotically portrayed by newcomer Peter O’Toole. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, it won seven — Picture, Director, Cinematography, Score, Art Direction, Editing, Sound — though its two acting nominees, Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, walked away empty-handed.

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