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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And it's time now for some home viewing advice from our movie critic Bob Mondello. This week, a 50th anniversary Blu-ray release of the ultimate sand-and-sandals picture, "Lawrence of Arabia."

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BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Twenty-nine-year-old Peter O'Toole astride a camel, leading Bedouin warriors on a charge that would shake the Ottoman Empire and shake up moviemaking for decades.

Movies don't get bigger than "Lawrence of Arabia." Today, a director would do the most expansive shots with digital effects. But they didn't exist in 1962, so David Lean used hundreds of real camels, thousands of real men in a landscape so vast it beggars description. And this film's not just about spectacle. It's a literate epic, witty and spare from the moment young T.E. Lawrence is pulled from his regiment for a diplomatic assignment.

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PETER O'TOOLE: (as T.E. Lawrence) I'm the man for the job.

CLAUDE RAINS: (as Mr. Dryden) I just wonder about that.

O'TOOLE: (as T.E. Lawrence) Of course, I'm the man for the job. What is the job, by the way?

MONDELLO: There are some startling modern-day parallels too. Once Lawrence is leading the Arab uprising, the British commanders worry about giving him sophisticated weapons.

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JACK HAWKINS: (as General Allenby) I'll give you a lot of money.

O'TOOLE: (as T.E. Lawrence) Artillery?

HAWKINS: (as General Allenby) I can't.

MONDELLO: Much as world powers now worry about giving Syrian rebels sophisticated weapons. And back in 1918, the same city was the prize.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LAWRENCE OF ARABIA")

O'TOOLE: (as T.E. Lawrence) They won't be coming for money - not the best of them. They'll be coming for Damascus, which I'm going to give them.

HAWKINS: (as General Allenby) That's all I want.

O'TOOLE: (as T.E. Lawrence) All you want is someone holding down the Turkish right, but I'm going to give them Damascus. And when we've got it, we'll keep it.

MONDELLO: The more things change, no? Gorgeously restored using a process with more than four times the sharpness of high-def TV, the new Blu-ray version has all the familiar images - shimmering mirages, men staggering across an un-crossable desert, the attack on Aqaba. And then, more than two hours in, at about the point you think you've seen everything you remember, the word intermission fills the screen.

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MONDELLO: The four-disc package also includes a never-before-released sequence, restoration documentaries, a soundtrack album, an original frame from a 65-millimeter print, even a coffee table book. It's a big package, entirely befitting "Lawrence of Arabia," a movie big enough that Hollywood couldn't even consider making it today. I'm Bob Mondello.

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