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BURTON Richard - Two Autograph Letters Signed 1956 regarding a postponed Lawrence of Arabia film

  • £350.00

Richard BURTON (1925-1984)

Two Autograph Letters Signed (“Richard”) to “Dear John” [John Moody, then Director of the Bristol Old Vic] expressing frustration at the delays in a proposed Lawrence of Arabia film.
1 page oblong large 8vo, Hampstead, 10 August 1956 and 1 page oblong large 8vo, n.p., 30 September 1956. 
Still very interested in Keane, and only interested in doing it at your theatre, seems to me the most delightful theatre in the world.
I am off to Palestine (with Mr. Nasser’s permission) in October but should be free by March. My tel. no. is HAM 6452. Give me a ring sometime. I’m working daily at the Films. Hope you had a good holiday.”
Bad news! I’m afraid that M. Nasser has delayed the filming of Lawrence of Arabia so much now that it’s going to run into April and possibly May. I’m deeply sorry and am very bitter about Mr. Nasser. Perhaps we’ll manage something next season – I’m determined to do it.
Profound regrets and apologies
In a postscript he adds, “By Mr. Susskinds “version” I meant “production”.”
Projects for a film based on the life of Lawrence of Arabia had been floated since before the Second World War, with both Leslie Howard and Laurence Olivier suggested as potential contenders for the lead role. The idea was revived after the war, with a script by Terence Rattigan and Burton, Alec Guinness (who played Lawrence on stage in Rattigan’s Ross) and eventually Dirk Bogarde in line for the role. David Lean, who eventually directed the Lawrence film starring Peter O’Toole allegedly said that he thought Burton would have been marvellous as Lawrence. The moment, unfortunately, had obviously passed.
Relations between Britain and Egypt had been strained for well over a year at the time of writing, but Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in July 1956 increased the tensions to breaking point, hence Burton’s frustration. The Suez Crisis, as it became known, finally erupted in October/November of that year, putting an end to any thought of filming in the region.
Kean, by Jean-Paul Sartre and based on the life of the great Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean, had its Paris premiere in 1953. Burton never played the role.

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