How the late Omar Sharif had one of the great movie introductions of all time

alan-sepinwall
Senior Television Writer
07.10.15

Columbia

Egyptian-born actor Omar Sharif has died, suffering a heart attack in a Cairo hospital at the age of 83. In his '60s heyday, he played lead roles in “Doctor Zhivago” and “Funny Girl,” and had one of the great star-making introductions in movie history with his role as Sherif Ali in David Lean's epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”

“Lawrence” wasn't Sharif's first film, as he had been working in his home country for years before. But it was his first English-language role, and his introductory scene is perhaps that film's signature moment, in the way Lean's camera slowly and patiently turns Ali from a dot on the horizon into this figure who instantly horrifies Peter O'Toole's T.E. Lawrence. The effect isn't the same on a computer (let alone a phone) as it was up on the big screen, but it's still something to see:

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Also, years later, the ZAZ comedy team made great use of Sharif's usually dignified screen presence by casting him as a put-upon spy in “Top Secret.”

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