Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Kirk Douglas: A Centennial Celebration Opens Friday at UCLA

Olivia de Havilland isn't the only legend of the Golden Age of Cinema celebrating a centennial birthday this year!

Kirk Douglas celebrates his 100th birthday on December 9, 2016.

UCLA will honor Douglas with Kirk Douglas: A Centennial Celebration which opens Friday, July 8th, and runs through Friday, September 30th.

25 films starring Douglas will be shown at the Billy Wilder Theater. With the exception of THE DEVIL'S DISCIPLE (1959), which will screen in 16mm, all films in the series will be shown in 35mm.

The series opens Friday evening with Vincente Minnelli's LUST FOR LIFE (1952). Many classic Douglas titles will be shown in the coming weeks, including ACE IN THE HOLE (1951), SPARTACUS (1960), LONELY ARE THE BRAVE (1962), and PATHS OF GLORY (1958).

Of greatest interest to me are I WALK ALONE (1948) with Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott on July 13th, THE BIG SKY (1952) and MAN WITHOUT A STAR (1955) on July 17th, and THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) and OUT OF THE PAST (1947) on September 18th.

The series comes full circle, ending on September 30th with two more films Douglas made with Vincente Minnelli, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952) and TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN (1962).

Other films in the series which have been reviewed here previously are DETECTIVE STORY (1951), YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (1950), and 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954).

For complete details, please visit the schedule at the UCLA website.

The latest UCLA program guide confirms the announcement at a recent screening that a Joan Blondell retrospective is coming this fall! That should be a fantastic series.

Update: Here's my review of THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946).


Blogger Blake Lucas said...

As you are already inclined to go to, I'll strongly recommend THE BIG SKY and MAN WITHOUT A STAR, both high among my own favorite Westerns, especially the first.

Among Howard Hawks' masterpieces are three Westerns of which RIO BRAVO is certainly the greatest (it is my favorite of all his movies) but I like THE BIG SKY even more than the more celebrated RED RIVER--they are both journey films with beautifully done relationships, especially among the two main male characters, but THE BIG SKY seems to run a little deeper and its narrative resolves in a way that is both complex and subtle and very moving.

MAN WITHOUT A STAR probably should have been paired with LONELY ARE THE BRAVE as BRAVE plays so much like a contemporary reflection of STAR, both in theme and Douglas' character. In any event, if you haven't liked Douglas much (that's my impression), the SKY/STAR double bill might give you a more positive view of him as he is so likable and sympathetic in both movies (well, it goes for LONELY ARE THE BRAVE as well).

This said, and while I'm glad they chose some of his best Westerns (including LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL as well), I am deeply disappointed that they left out Raoul Walsh's great ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE (1951)--it may be because Douglas himself never liked this movie, his first Western, but he's wrong about that. It's one of his best films and he's perfect in it. I've never seen this theatrically so it was the single film I most hoped would be there (but those who want to see it can get a Warner Archive DVD and it will look good there).

There are other criminally underrated Kirk Douglas movies also left out, especially Robert Aldrich's THE LAST SUNSET, which is not only provocative but truly haunting, and Elia Kazan's unjustly maligned THE ARRANGEMENT, in which Douglas is superb. And there are on the other hand overrated Douglas movies, especially SPARTACUS, which plainly could have been great in the hands of its original director Anthony Mann whom producer Douglas fired (you can see the traces of his work in the first hour) but which falls to being a thorough disappointment in the heavy hands of Stanley Kubrick.

But he was in a lot of memorable movies and most of those are in the series. I wouldn't want to say they didn't make any good decisions about the programming either. His best work is in his three Vincente Minnelli films, so it's great that these are programmed first and last, LUST FOR LIFE--in which he is indelible as Van Gogh--and the two Hollywood on Hollywood melodramas (well Hollywood in Rome in the second one) that make up that great final double bill.

Just one guy's thoughts--and I know I'm opinionated about movies I've seen many times over the years.

12:25 PM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Oh wow, I'd go to several of these if I was closer. Particularly Lonely are the Brave, and the 20,000/Vikings combo. I may have to make that second one happen, as I'd love to see Vikings on the big screen. I'd also LOVE to see Tough Guys again, which I haven't seen since its original theatrical release.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Blake, I very much appreciate your sharing these detailed comments, especially as I know relatively few of Douglas's films. I very much hope to get to the Western night you recommend. I'm especially interested in MAN WITHOUT A STAR due to the presence of Jeanne Crain and Claire Trevor in the cast.

My dad has the Warner Archive DVD of ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE so I'm sure I'll see that at some point as well -- I'm a fan of Virginia Mayo who is the leading lady.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

Deb, I'd like to see THE VIKINGS on a big screen too! Not sure I can do it but we'll see. I was fortunate to see 20,000 LEAGUES at the Egyptian a couple of years ago with several Imagineers in attendance to honor production designer Harper Goff. Let me know if you go! :)

Best wishes,

5:48 PM  
Blogger DKoren said...

I remember that night at the Egyptian! It was so great hearing the stories and seeing the slides, and getting to visit with you a bit!

Let's get close to the viewing date and see how things go.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Gary T. said...

Hello Laura
Saw Lonely Are the Brave / Strangers When We Meet last night. Lonely is one of my favorites having seen when it first came out. Had no idea about Strangers and it was an odd surprise. Main reason I stayed was to see Ernie Kovacs in a straight role.
Wonder what the deal is with Last Train being shown in 16mm? Originally shot in that weird Vista Vision process that few theaters were equipped to handed, if any, but it was usually reformatted for scope. Never saw a 16mm scope print, if such a thing is around.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Gary, Thanks for your report! Glad you were able to check out one of these screenings. Unfortunately my schedule has been such I haven't been able to yet, though I'm still hoping to catch a couple of the films before the series comes to an end!

Best wishes,

12:17 AM  

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