Monday, June 8, 2009

Favorite Actors, #9: Kirk Douglas

First Movie I Saw Him In: The Fury (1978; probably on cable in 1979)

Three Favorite Movies: Young Man With a Horn (1950); The Bad and the Beautiful (1952); Man Without a Star (1955)

Honorable Mention: Ace In the Hole (1951)

Favorite Performance:
Detective Story (1951)


Why I Like Him: Kirk never came off like a relic from "the old days" when I was a kid, though I always loved old movies and TV shows, but Douglas has a vitality that never dates itself. He's the most intense actor of the pre-Brando era and played nasty S.O.B.s better than anyone, even Robert Ryan. I still try and impersonate Douglas' slow-burning anger routine in his voice just before he explodes in an incandescent rage. He's intense!!! Some of my favorite Kirk Douglas rage moments: Kirk in Young Man With a Horn having a crack up at a bar; his explosion of anger at Lana Turner in The Bad and the Beautiful and then kicking her to the curb; In Harm's Way (1965), when Douglas is leaving the morgue after identifying the body of his trollop of a wife. His look of pure misery (along with Jerry Goldsmith's amazing underscore) brings home that Douglas intensity.

Random Info: Ivy League cesspool Harvard used to bestow a "Kirk Douglas Overacting Award" in the 1950s and 60s.

The Old Lion: Kirk at the Golden Globe Awards, 1986.

7 comments:

  1. Ivy League cesspool Harvard used to bestow a "Kirk Douglas Overacting Award" in the 1950s and 60s.

    Just one of many reasons I find it difficult to trust people with Ivy League degrees.

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  2. No mention of Spartacus? That was my first Kirk film - I saw it in school when I was like twelve or so, I was the only one that was sucked into it! (Probably one of my first classic film inspirations, too.)
    I also like him in A Letter to Three Wives, even though his part is quite small. As you say about his intensity - remember when his wife's boss breaks his new record? I believe that's one of those "slow-burning anger routines" you're talking about!

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  3. "Intense" was the perfect word to describe Kirk Douglas! Only Burt Lancaster matched him in this respect. My favorite Douglas performance (for which he should have won the Oscar): "Lust for Life." He looked like he was born to play Van Gogh.

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  4. He's one of my favorites. I've watched him in countless movies. One of my favorites is "The Vikings."

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  5. Out of the Past with Robert Mitchum. Douglas plays a gangster.

    Retrohound.com

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  6. So many great films though I agree with R.D. Kirk wasborn to play Van Gogh in Lust for Life and yes he should have won an Oscar for that role.

    Other favorite Kirk's are - The Bad and the Beautiful, Detective Story, Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Ace in the Hole and two with Burt, Seven Days in May and Gunfight at the OK .Corral with

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  7. I fleshed out Kirk's entry; gotta give ol' Issur Danielovitch his due.

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