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Kirk Douglas & his 100th birthday & TCM but do fans know the truth?

91 posts in this topic

 

 

(...and btw...if I would've gone YOUR route, I would've called him "Mr. Widmark" instead, as he always sort of reminded me of that actor instead...

 

You're right, that's better.

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Boy, Dargo, I'm really surprised you BLEW IT so bad in that encounter with Kirk Douglas.

 

When he asked you that question, "You DO know who I am, don't you?" all you had to say was,

 

"Yes sir, and I really loved you in Elmer Gantry!"

 

 

 

That way you not only would have flattered him with an appeal to his ego, but would have duly impressed him with a small sample of your vast film knowledge!

 

It's a shame you lacked my quick wittedness at the time.

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Details?

 

 

She talked about it (diplomatically) in her memoirs. Nothing really specific, just that she didnt enjoy working with him that much in Young Man With a Horn.......

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The story was revealed in a bio of Nathalie Wood -since her name is mentionned-in the early 2000-2006 MAYBE. .a great book by the way,the actor producer was not revealed except by his familiar grin,there was really 2 choices in the mid 50's Burt or Kirk,who were both actor-producer at the time,a not common situation then.The name was not revealed because he was still alive when the book was published .The choice of Burt was quickly dismissed as he died in 1994.In the Ragman`s Son,a book i read about 10 times,i looked then for his comments on Nathalie Wood,one line  is ALL.he says about her if i remember well as i  verified this more than 10 years ago.I think Lana Wood said something about it to confirm this story.I do not know about the other lady mentionned.Like John Frankenheimer once said::`,Kirk wanted to be Burt Lancaster all his life`.

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She talked about it (diplomatically) in her memoirs. Nothing really specific, just that she didnt enjoy working with him that much in Young Man With a Horn.......

 

Well Kirk and Bacall were friends and knew each other before going to Hollywood so maybe that impacted the dynamics between Kirk and Day.

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Maybe the hard-boiled Kirk Douglas in THE DETECTIVE STORY and ACE IN THE HOLE is the real Kirk Douglas.  Who knows? Like him or not, he really could play a bad*** (and apparently act like one in real life sometimes as per Dargo's experience).

 

I don't know.  I liked him when he played bad and played almost normal like in SEVEN DAYS IN MAY.

 

Kirk did play dislikable types a lot.

 

But he could also play charming good guys. In fact my favourite Douglas performance is one of those, as the loner cowboy fleeing the law in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE. Douglas's primary relationship in the film is, in fact, probably with his horse with whom he feels such a bond that it leads to the film's ironic ending.

 

This is a fine Douglas film that doesn't get the same discussion as Spartacus or Paths of Glory or Lust for Life, but deserves to be seen. The film's theme, a plea for rugged individualism in an increasingly conforming society, was close to Kirk's heart and he has called the film one of his career favourites. Michael Douglas has called it his favourite performance of his father.

 

For those who have yet to see it, Lonely Are the Brave has occasionally been on TCM in the past, and hopefully will be on again. I don't think Kirk was ever more engaging and likable than in this film.

 

lonely2.gif

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Yes, one of my favorites of Kirk's film roles..... Gena Rowlands and Walter Matthau are also in it.

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Yes, I also think LONELY ARE THE BRAVE is one of Kirk's best and most likable roles.  It's also a role still relevant today with fracking, oil pipelines, highways, housing developments, etc.  continuing to chew up the landscape.

 

As far as Kirk's involvements with the ladies, I, too, also read that he and Doris weren't pals on YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN but I agree that it may be because Kirk and Lauren Bacall knew each other from before so they had more of a connection.  I never read anything about Natalie Wood and Kirk.  This is news to me.  I have read that Natalie was "deflowered" by Nicholas Ray on REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE but that's another topic altogether.

 

One thing I appreciate about Kirk Douglas as an actor is that he was willing to play "bad guys" and do it very well.  Some actors won't take on those kinds of roles and just want to play heroes.  I didn't think of LONELY ARE THE BRAVE when I posted earlier and I should have because he is really good in it.  Dito LUST FOR LIFE.  I think my favorite "bad" Kirk is ACE IN THE HOLE.  He is just so bad but I can't take my eyes off him. 

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I think my favorite "bad" Kirk is ACE IN THE HOLE. He is just so bad but I can't take my eyes off him.

ACE IN THE HOLE (aka THE BIG CARNIVAL) is my favorite performance of his and one of my favorite performances of the 1950s. It's also one of my favorite Billy Wilder films, and I LOVE almost every film Billy Wilder ever did. It's light years ahead of its time, and Kirk is not only brilliant but he brings out the best in his costars – most especially Jan Sterling – who is just amazing in this film. I wish very much that they had both gotten Oscar-nominations For their work,but seeing as how the film came and went in a hot second that year – it didn't happen.
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ACE IN THE HOLE (aka THE BIG CARNIVAL) is my favorite performance of his and one of my favorite performances of the 1950s. It's also one of my favorite Billy Wilder films, and I LOVE almost every film Billy Wilder ever did. It's light years ahead of its time, and Kirk is not only brilliant but he brings out the best in his costars – most especially Jan Sterling – who is just amazing in this film. I wish very much that they had both gotten Oscar-nominations For their work,but seeing as how the film came and went in a hot second that year – it didn't happen.

Well, maybe TWO hot seconds, as the film was released, and failed, under the two titles.

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Well, maybe TWO hot seconds, as the film was released, and failed, under the two titles.

 

I know, right?

 

OF THE two titles, the original (ACE IN THE HOLE) is way better and the double meaning far more sinister.

 

It's kind a hard to believe now, but I seem to recall reading that the film was considered (more or less) lost for numerous decades until rather recently. at least, it was not seen for many decades.

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My favourite line of dialogue in Ace in the Hole belongs to Jan Sterling

 

In reference to going to church (to pray for her husband trapped in a mine):

 

"Kneeling bags my nylons."

 

This woman is not the perfect wife.

 

Thank you, Mr. Wilder.

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A few posters here have made reference to Doris Day not liking Kirk while they made Young Man With A Horn.

 

But what about the film itself? I think this is one of the best film explorations of the special breed of people who inhabit the world of jazz. Solid performances from most of the cast, Kirk (his intensity and obsessiveness is perfect for his role), Juano Hernandez as the old time trumpet man that Douglas idolizes (Hernandez brings sincerity and dignity to his role), and the great Hoagy Carmichael who brings a touch of genuine jazz club authenticity to the film.

 

Doris Day does some terrific singing (I think of this as kind of a glimpse of her pre-Hollywood nightclub career) and, dramatically, she's not bad either.

 

Douglas does some excellent lip syncing to the great sound of Harry James' horn (James sounds nothing like Bix Beiderbecke upon whom this film is based - from what I've heard of Bix in some ancient recordings James style was far more dramatic). Mike Curtiz is in great form as director here, and the film gains by having some on location shooting in a big city (NYC, I assume) during the sequence that shows Douglas's decline.

 

The only fly in the ointment of this film for me is the triteness of the writing regarding Douglas's tumultuous relationship with the Lauren Bacall character, but that's a minor quibble of a fine film.

 

This is one of Kirk's films that has countless broadcasts on TCM, for which we are blessed, in my opinion.

 

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I like the film too, though the happy ending doesnt ring true. Doris didnt really come out and say she didnt like Kirk. But if you read between the lines, it sounded that way (Kirk was remote, I didnt get to know him well, etc.)

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I like the film too, though the happy ending doesnt ring true. Doris didnt really come out and say she didnt like Kirk. But if you read between the lines, it sounded that way (Kirk was remote, I didnt get to know him well, etc.)

 

I agree that the ending of Young Man feels like a compromise. And all that business about the character trying to blow a perfect note (Say what?) sounds like pure Hollywood bunkum. Still, minor quibbles on a fine film.

 

I've read that during the making of the film Hoagy Carmichael, who had known Bix Beiderbecke, felt a bit despondent with flashbacks to his friend who had suffered a tragic end.

 

Many think that Lauren Bacall's character in the film is lesbian. This apparently took Bacall by surprise when she heard of this interpretation of her character later. At one point Bacall says of Doris Day's character, "It must be wonderful to wake up in the morning and know just which door you’re going to walk through. She’s so terribly normal."

 

The following is from Wiki of the relationship between Douglas and Day:

 

In her authorized biography, Doris Day described her experience making the film as "utterly joyless", as she had not found working with Douglas to be pleasant. In the book, Douglas said that he felt her ever-cheerful persona was only a "mask" and he had never been able to get to know the real person underneath. Day countered that while Douglas had been "civil", he was too self-centered to make any real attempt to get to know either her or anyone else.

 

Aside from how the two stars felt about one another, Kirk and Doris are now the oldest Hollywood screen couple still alive, their combined ages (195 years) also a record maker, I believe, for any two stars who have worked together.

 

I wonder if it's still too late for the two of them to patch things up? ;)

 

 

 

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Bacall's character is featured in the documentary "The Celluloid Closet". Whether intended or not, she sends that vibe out to a segment of viewers.

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Bacall's character is featured in the documentary "The Celluloid Closet". Whether intended or not, she sends that vibe out to a segment of viewers.

 

Oh yeah, she's big on the LPGA tour, that one.

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I agree that the ending of Young Man feels like a compromise. And all that business about the character trying to blow a perfect note (Say what?) sounds like pure Hollywood bunkum. Still, minor quibbles on a fine film.

 

 

 

 

As a jazz musician I can tell you that getting to and then maintaining one's perfect sound is something jazz musicians strive for.  Yes, perfect note is BS,  but my interpretation of what was going on in the film was more related to getting one's perfect sound (which in a wind instrument can often be determine by a few key notes,  e.g.  a high octave Eb.    I.e. Hollywood took a sound overall concept but overstated it to create additional drama.  

 

I have one friend that I jam with each Thursday at 7:00 at his house.    Well I get there at that time and he is just setting up.   Sometimes it can take him 20 to 30 minutes to get his sound (I just sit there,  or go talk to his wife, since I'm able to set up and get my perfect sound in 2 minutes!).     Once I asked him why he didn't 'set up' before I got there.   BAD IDEA!   He got upset.  So I just wait have some green tea and when I hear that he has his sound I re-enter the music room.     Yea,  musicians can be fussy and temperamental.       

 

PS:  This reminds me of when Ravi Shankar played at George Harrison's concert for Bangladesh.   He got on stage and started to tune his sitar.  Now the sitar has a lot of strings so it can take some time to tune.   After he was done the audience gave a rounding applause.   Yea,  the unsophisticated Madison Square Garden felt Ravi was playing a song.   Ravi made a priceless comment after the applause was over (something close to);  if you liked me tuning so much,  I hope you like the performance.    (sorry for the diversion).

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Oh yeah, she's big on the LPGA tour, that one.

 

 

LOL. Those tailored suits.......

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Oh yeah, she's big on the LPGA tour, that one.

 

Yea,  I believe I saw her in Palm Springs at the Diana Shore Golf tournament.     

 

But here is a true story;  My wife and her close friend,  both Italian and only in the USA about 3 years,  decided to go to Palm Springs for the weekend.  They chose the weekend of the Diana Shore tournament.   This is one of the largest internationally know lesbian events.    Well these two were clueless about that.    A few hours after she got there she called me and said there was a very strange vibe.   I just laughed and clued her in.    She still had a great time but they did feel out of place.

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