SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM - ARTISTS TEST: ALBERT FINNEY
INTEREST. Screen test by Albert Finney for the title role in a film about T.E. Lawrence, then known as SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM, subsequently to be titled LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. The test consists of extracts from Lawrence's book "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" intercut with dramatised sequences in a studio. No title. Fade in to CU of Finney as a young Lawrence. He speaks to the camera (extract from "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom") of how he came to be among the Arabs. If he could not assume their character he could conceal his own (137). Scene inside an Arab tent. Lawrence and Prince Feisal listen to a group of Arab leaders who mock the English. Lawrence (in uniform) tells them that his superiors find the Arab revolt feeble and undisciplined (362). A slightly older Lawrence speaks to the camera. "It was evident from the beginning that the promises later made would be dead paper". He hopes events will force the great powers to think again (446). Scene in a room in Aqaba. Auda Abu Tayi ransacks the place and complains to Lawrence and Sherif Ali, seated at a table, that there is no gold in Aqaba. Lawrence writes him a promissory note and announces his intention to cross the Sinai desert to Cairo (692). Lawrence speaks to the camera about the confused and conflicting impulses within him (810). Scene at night. Lawrence (in Arab dress) is thoughtful. Sitting at a fire he is joined by Sherif Ali who says Auda's men have deserted them. Lawrence admits to the existence of secret treaties. Asked what he wants, he says Arab freedom, and his own. Ali replies that "only a scoundrel can serve two masters". Lawrence will ride to Deraa, a Turkish stronghold, passing as an Arab (1109). Lawrence, in Arab dress, speaks to the camera (the lighting dimming until only his eyes are seen). His Arab guise has been "an affectation only". The strain of his ambitions and conflicting loyalties have brought him near to madness. Are all established reputations, like his own, founded on fraud? (1302). Scene in a room at night. A tired Lawrence enters in full Arab dress. He sits down, head bent in thought, then takes off his headdress and throws it aside. He rises (1417). Note: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA eventually came out in 1962, with Peter O'Toole in the leading role. According to Andrew Sinclair's `Spiegel: The Man Behind The Movies' (1987) the test cost £100,000 to produce.