LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
What is it? That epic-iest of epics, the story of TE Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) and his attempt to unite the disparate tribes of the Arabian desert against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Why did it win? See above. Nothing else could compare: not the beautifully calibrated moral message of Mockingbird; not the bombast of Mutiny On The Bounty; not the scale of The Longest Day or the 76 trombones of The Music Man. Even had some of the year's other best films been nominated - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; Jules et Jim; Lolita; Cape Fear - they couldn't have overturned this one.
Did it deserve to win? You can't argue with this one - even if To Kill A Mockingbird was among the defeated nominees. Not only does Lawrence of Arabia contain the requisite Oscar ingredients (huge scale; true story; astonishing cinematography, editing, acting and directing; big themes about honour and betrayal; World War I for a bonus point; Peter O'Toole's blue eyes for another), it's also more epic than even Oscar requires, and unarguably one of the best films ever made.
Worth a look? Yes: Steven Spielberg always does before making a new film, which should be recommendation enough.