Theme Times – Kirk Douglas

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Kirk Douglas By Unknown photographer

Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916 – February 5, 2020) was an American actor, producer, director, philanthropist, and writer. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war films. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 films. Douglas was known for his explosive acting style, which he displayed as a criminal defense attorney in Town Without Pity (1961).

Douglas became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other early films include Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day, Ace in the Hole opposite Jan Sterling (1951), and Detective Story (1951), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Drama. He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and his third nomination for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), which landed him a second Golden Globe nomination.


So were you a fan of Kirk douglas, who sadly died recently. He reached the remarkable age of 103 – astonishing age. I remember reading one of his autobiographies written when he was in his fifties an excellent read indeed. I was a huge admirer of his works and performances. Below are 10 of his [in my opinion] best films.


1 – Out of the Past – 1947

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him.

2 – The Strange Love of Martha Ivers – 1946

Years after a murder drove them apart, an heiress tries to win back her lost love.

3 – Spartacus – 1960

Thracian Spartacus, who was born and raised a slave, rebels against the atrocities that his owners inflict upon him. However, his life changes when he is sold to gladiator trainer Batiatus.

4 – Paths of Glory – 1957

General Mireau decides to take on an impossible mission to capture a German post. However, when his men decide to back out from the mission he insults them.

5 – Lust of Life – 1956

This lauded drama depicts the life of revered Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas). An intense and imaginative artist, Van Gogh possesses undeniable talent, but he is plagued by mental problems and frustrations with failure. Supported by his brother, Theo (James Donald), the tormented Van Gogh eventually leaves Holland for France, where he meets volatile fellow painter Paul Gauguin (Anthony Quinn) and struggles to find greater inspiration.

6 – The Bad and the Beautiful – 1952

Unscrupulous movie producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) is a child of Hollywood who ruthlessly toils his way to the top of the studio system, discarding movie star Georgia (Lana Turner), director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan) and writer James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) along the way. Although Shields manipulates them and leaves each in despair, they find success in Hollywood, thanks in part to Shields, and must decide whether or not to repay him when he offers them a collaborative project.

7 – Tough Guys– 1986

Two ageing train robbers cannot get used to modern life after thirty years in jail and decide to do one last robbery – on the same train that proved to be their downfall three decades earlier. They are determined not to get caught again, despite being pursued by the cop who arrested them last time round and by a mysterious gunslinger with an old score to settle.

8 – The Fury– 1978

When a devious plot separates CIA agent Peter Sandza (Kirk Douglas) from his son, Robin (Andrew Stevens), the distraught father manages to see through the ruse. Taken because of his psychic abilities, Robin is being held by Ben Childress (John Cassavetes), who is studying people with supernatural powers in hopes of developing their talents as weapons. Soon Peter pairs up with Gillian (Amy Irving), a teen who has telekinesis, to find and rescue Robin.

9 – Young Man with a Horn– 1950

A young trumpet player is torn between an honest singer and a manipulative heiress.

10 – The Man from Snowy River – 1982

After the death of his father, proud young Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson) sets out to become his own man. Taking a job with horse rancher Harrison (Kirk Douglas), Craig is treated poorly by the more experienced cowboys, but wins the heart of the rancher’s daughter, Jessica (Sigrid Thornton), when he helps her break a high-strung colt and later saves her life. When he’s unfairly blamed for the loss of an expensive horse, Craig fights to restore his honor and prove that he’s worthy of Jessica’s hand.


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Were you a fan of Kirk Douglas?

Let me know your views and comments below – cheers.


5 thoughts on “Theme Times – Kirk Douglas

  1. I was but sadly cannot recall a single movie of his by name. I always compared his son Michael, unfavorably to him. I guess he is not such a great actor as good dad.

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