Other than being one of the most famous films of all times, David Lean's Doctor Zhivago holds the distinguished record of being the cleanest sweep in Golden Globe history, winning every nominated category: five nominations, five wins. Moreover, co-star Geraldine Chaplin was named Best Promising Newcomer – Female (Elizabeth Hartman was the winner that year for A Patch of Blue). Also among the winners that year was composer Maurice Jarre for his acclaimed soundtrack, which included the hit song “Lara's Theme”. The 23rd Golden Globe Awards were held on February 28, 1966, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Set in Russia between the years prior to World War I and the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922, Zhivago – based on Boris Pasternak's novel – stars Omar Sharif as Yuri Zhivago, a married physician and poet (his wife is played by Chaplin) whose life is irreversibly altered by the Russian Revolution; Julie Christie plays his married love interest, Lara Antipova. The supporting cast includes Rod Steiger and Alec Guinness among many others. While immensely popular in the West, the book was banned in the Soviet Union for decades.
For Sharif this was the second Globe in two years, after Lawrence of Arabia, while for director Lean it was the third win in ten years, after The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. MGM and Carlo Ponti produced this massive undertaking filmed mainly in Finland (standing in for snowy Russia, Siberia, and the tundra), and Spain. The original film runs 197 minutes. Its notable $11 million budget was greatly outnumbered by its $110 million in receipts in the U.S. alone, and on its first run: a huge commercial success. As of 2016, Doctor Zhivago is the eighth highest-grossing film of all time in the United States and Canada, adjusted for ticket-price inflation.
Contemporary critics were somewhat disappointed though, complaining of its running length, even while acknowledging the intensity of the love story and the film's treatment of human themes. Over time, however, the film's reputation has improved greatly. Reviewing it for its 30th anniversary, film critic Roger Ebert regarded it as "an example of superb old-style craftsmanship at the service of a soppy romantic vision.”