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.
In my lifetime The Movies have consumed my life they have become hobby, my passion and at times my infatuation and along that journey of countless films collected, hundreds of books read and the endless number of movies watched there has been one constant that stands above all others an actor by the name of Issur Danielovitch aka: Kirk Douglas a giant of a man not in height but in the way he has conducted himself, his film career is nothing short of remarkable, I’m not talking awards, box office success or personal gain I am talking of the many varied roles he has portrayed in his career from being the hero to villain, colonel to slave for me Kirk’s dedication to his craft, his granite stature & movie presence is unequaled, an actor not afraid to take chances on a role & make that role his own whether it be a boxing hero in Champion, the troubled artist Van Gogh in Lust for Life, a slave who goes up against the might of Rome in Spartacus, a cunning self centered reporter in Ace in the Hole and a cowboy just doing his job in Lonely are the Brave Kirk Douglas is without question a living breathing bona fide Movie Legend and although first & foremost I will always think of Kirk Douglas as an actor he has also inspired millions with his writing penning numerous novels and blogging into the 21st Century some of this work has been equally as stirring as some of his most famous pictures and in 1964 showing the measure of the man along with his wife Anne, Kirk established The Douglas Foundation that not only donates countless millions but work tirelessly in helping the less fortunate in building a better future for those in most need – Happy 100th Birthday Kirk Douglas your quite simply a LEGEND…..
Happy 98th Birthday to the greatest movie star of his generation KIRK DOUGLAS – back in 1949 Kirk was slowly starting to make a name for himself on screen when cast as the lead actor in Mark Robson’s great boxing film CHAMPION – below are some rare photo’s of Kirk taken around that time – I hope you agree Kirk Douglas is a cinematic treasure & these are wonderful!!
One of the last great actresses of the Golden Age LAUREN BACALL has died age 89 – a New York lass she made her name starring alongside some of Hollywood’s finest including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and her beloved Humphrey Bogart – for a leading lady Lauren Bacall had the lot, during the 40s and 50s you would struggle to come up with another actress who electrified the screen as Bacall did – throughout her career she always managed to ignite a fierce chemistry with her many co-stars, her husky vocals and piercing blue & green cat like eye’s adding to her star quality and undoubted sex appeal – her break through movie To Have and Have Not in 44′ followed by Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Lago made her a Hollywood Star – for me looking back at Lauren Bacall’s career John Huston’s Key Largo and starring alongside John Wayne in The Shootist were easily my favorite two movies – Bacall will be missed no doubt but thanks to her body of work her beauty & talent will always be remembered….
Sadly one of the great method actors of our time has died aged 98 – ELI WALLACH played a huge part in my love for film after watching his performances in such classics such as The Magnificent Seven alongside Yul Bryner, The Misfits opposite Marilyn Monroe & Clarke Gable, How the West Was Won with Lee J. Cobb & co, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly alongside Clint Eastwood, The Hunter with Steve McQueen and so many more – at 98 Eli should be remembered not for awards, accolades or press worthy news clippings but for a body of work full of genuinely great film roles and his last-ability in an industry of much change since making his film debut back in 1956 in Elia Kazan‘s Baby Doll – to say goodbye to one of the screens finest I will leave you with a quote from Sergio Leone‘s 1966 classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly where Eli Wallach played the outlaw Tuco “There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting”
known as the “Woman of a Thousand Faces” Eleanor Parker has died aged 91 at her home in Palm Springs, California – although most remember Ms Parker for her superb portrayal of The Baroness in 1965’s The Sound of Music, it was earlier in her career at the start of the 50’s that she really made a name for herself, playing a teenager in Cromwell’s prison drama Caged, starring alongside Kirk Douglas in Detective Story and playing opera singer Marjorie Lawrence in 1955’s Interrupted Melody all three performances delivering Ms Parker an Academy Award Nomination – another couple of personal favorite’s was the John Sturges western Escape from Fort Bravo showing great chemistry alongside William Holden and Otto Preminger’s 1955 Frank Sinatra led movie The Man with the Golden Arm – she was one of the true greats of the silver screen, a fabulous actress with the looks of a Princess – she will be sadly missed….
Since making his movie debut opposite Barbara Stanwyck in 1946’s The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Kirk Douglas was destined to become a Hollywood Great – in his wonderful career Kirk appeared in over 70 movies, was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and in 1968 was the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award – he appeared alongside his friend Burt Lancaster on 7 different occasions and 3 times alongside John Wayne – some of my favorite movies include: Spartacus, War Wagon, The Vikings, Lust for Life, Ace in the Hole and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – In my opinion he is the greatest actor of his generation – Happy Birthday 97 year old Kirk Douglas
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….