Although the great Burt Lancaster has been dead for over twenty six years his movies hold a special place in my heart as one of the true film legends of the screen, an iconic presence, cheeky smile and steely eyes that could melt or pierce a heart at a thousand paces : starting his career back in the late 40s in Robert Siodmak’s fantastic noir film The Killers Burt Lancaster went on to have a glorious movie career acting with Hollywood legends such as Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale and so many more : my absolute top four is a small sample in the excellence of his work and in truth I could name so many more movie gems that I consider bonafide classics, films such as The Professionals with the great Lee Marvin, 1968’s The Swimmer, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral alongside Kirk Douglas, Sweet Smell of Success with Tony Curtis, Sydney Pollack’s wonderful Castle Keep and John Frankenheimer’s The Train : my absolute favorite and it’s a Burt Lancaster film I’ve watched more than any other is 1960’s Elmer Gantry directed by Richard Brooks, the film went on to win 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Burt taking home the Best Actor that year : so if you’ve not seen many of his movies and fancy a trip back to time when acting legends were truly that then take a peek at some of the films mentioned : Hope you enjoyed another of my Absolute Top Four till the next one….
Kirk Douglas was born on the 9th December 1916 in New York, he may no longer be with us but his work has brought so much joy to my screen over the years and will continue to do so : to name four of his best movies is near impossible as like most great actors he has numerous films to choose from dependent on the mood you find yourself in…. for example if your looking for a bit of fun the Douglas way then look no further than Tough Guys a 1986 gem that sees two gangsters released from prison into a world that has vastly changed since they were put away, Burt Lancaster and Eli Wallach share the screen in this sweet, emotional and hilarious turn by the maestro, or if your looking for something more sombre, a bit more dramatic then take a peek at the 1951 Billy Wilder movie Ace in the Hole, one of his very best and a good old fashioned nail biter, that sees Chuck Tatum a reporter who slows down a rescue attempt of a man trapped in a cave so his career can flourish, it’s one of my favorites and Kirk is dynamite but if you want a night in and your after excitement, gun fights and the old west then jump onboard The War Wagon that sees Kirk team up with John Wayne in one of my favorite guilty pleasure westerns directed by Burt Kennedy : so if over the next few weeks you find yourself looking for some movie inspiration, you fancy a revisit or maybe you’ve never seen the likes of Lust for Life, The Vikings or The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral well take it from me there’s a Kirk Douglas movie for each & every mood, let that chin dimple, enormous heart and big smile fill your screen, you’ll thank me later…..
One of my favorite Kirk Douglas quotes : I was not a tough guy. I just acted like one.
It was the year that Pixar Studios opened, Amber Heard was born and Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa won a Best Picture at the 58th Academy Awards – it was also the year screen legend James Cagney died and Mike Tyson became the youngest Heavyweight World Champion in the history of Boxing – it was also the year two of my movie heroes starred opposite each other for the last time – Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster first appeared together in 1957’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and in 1986 they would star in their seventh & final movie together Tough Guys….
My Definitive Action Movies of 1986 : at Number 1 is James Cameron’s epic scifi movie ALIENS that sees Ripley alongside a group of kick-ass Colonial Marines trying to stay alive down on LV-426 – at Number 2 Maverick & Goose fly into Top Gun coming up against the best Fighter Pilots the navy has to offer – and at Number 3 Sylvester Stallone plays Marion Cobretti a cop and part of the “Zombie Squad” who loves nothing better than Telling it to the Judge and putting the bad guys down in Cobra – at Number 4 is John Carpenter’s superb Big Trouble in Little China that sees Burton played by Kurt Russell battling a sorcerer named Lo Pan down in Chinatown – and finally there can be only one at Number 5 and that’s Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander don’t you just love that Queen soundtrack, that amazing Scottish backdrop and Clancy Brown’s villainous Kruger? – as you can see 1986 was an incredible feast of action movies, I was only 15 years of age at the time and my love affair with the movies was only just beginning….