Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Birthday: Kirk Douglas!

Kirk Douglas (December 9, 1916), always believed that to become a star, he needed to choose strong roles. Early in his career, he broke his studio contracts so he would have more control over his projects, forming his own movie company "Bryna Productions", named after his mother.

Douglas was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in the films: Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful and Lust for Life. He was especially disappointed for not winning for the latter film. Douglas did not win any competitive Oscars, but received a Honorary Academy Award in 1996 for "50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community.

Champion(1949). Film Noir drama based on a short story by Ring Lardnr.  It is about the struggles of boxer  "Midge" Kelly fighting his own demons while working to achieve success in the boxing ring. The drama was directed by Mark Robson, with cinematography by Franz Planer. Cast: Kirk Douglas and Marilyn Maxwell.

In The Bad and the Beautiful(1952). A melodramatic film that tells the story of a film producer who alienates all around him. It was directed by Vincente Minelli. Cast: Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Walter Pidgeon, Dick Powell, Barry Sullivan and Gloria Grahame.

One of my favorite Kirk Douglas movies is, Young Man with a Horn(1950). A biographical film considered to be the first big-budget jazz film, a genre that became common not soon after the release of the movie. Cast: Lauren Bacall, Kirk Douglas, and Doris Day, and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It was produced by Jerry Wald, and Carl Foreman and Edmund H. North wrote the screenplay. Douglas portrays the rise and fall of a jazz musician, based on real-life horn player Bix Beiderbecke. Composer-pianist Hoagy Carmichael, added realism to the film and gave Douglas insight into the role, being a friend of the real Beiderbecke.

His role as Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), filmed mostly on location in France, was noted not only for looking like him but also for how he showed the painter’s internal turmoil. He won a Golden Globe award for his role. Director Vincente Minnelli stated, "Kirk Douglas achieved a moving and memorable portrait of the artist."

Douglas made seven films with Burt Lancaster, I Walk Alone (1948), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), The Devil's Disciple (1959), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), Victory at Entebbe (1976) and Tough Guys (1986). Douglas was always second-billed under Lancaster in these films but, with the exception of, I Walk Alone, in which Douglas played a villain, and The List of Adrian Messenger, in which Lancaster played a brief part in disguise. Both actors arrived in Hollywood at the same time, and first appeared together in the fourth film for each.

In March 2009, Douglas starred in an autobiographical one man show titled Before I Forget at the Center Theater Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California. The four performances were filmed and turned into a documentary that was first screened in January 2010.

Other Kirk Douglas movies I have seen:
Please Click here to view past Kirk Douglas movie reviews.

Out of the Past (1947)
A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
Young Man with a Horn (1950)Please click here to read movie review.
The Glass Menagerie (1950)
Along the Great Divide (1951)
Ace in the Hole (1951)
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
Lust for Life (1956)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Spartacus (1960)
The War Wagon (1967)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.