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Burt Lancaster--Star of the Month, November


slaytonf
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A man of many parts. A great movie star and a great actor. Never a bad performance, even if the movie was forgettable. His roles ranged from the most flamboyant and athletic, to the intense and dramatic, to the subdued and understated. He had the physical presence to convey menace, and the subtlety to portray weak and tentative characters. He had the showmanship and smile to play the huckster, and the solid backbone to present quiet nobility. It's hard to pick out one movie that's a favorite, in fact, I can't, so I'll have to list a handful of them: Come Back, Little Sheba, The Birdman of Alcatraz, The Rainmaker, The Leopard, Atlantic City, and 1900.

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Nice start to a thread for one of the movies greatest actors , Burt Lancaster truly did it all. He could have easily built a career just being the athletic action hero (and he was one of the very best at that) but he constantly looked to broaden his range as an actor and never disappointed us. I tend to like Burt best as the action hero, my favorite film of his is *The Train* , he really worked hard to do that film and as John Frankenheimer said, Burt was one of the greatest stunt men in films. And anytime he teamed with Kirk Douglas made for a great film. *Seven Days In May* is an exceptional film and has Burt working with Fredric March as well. *Gunfight at the O.K. Corral* may take a lot of liberties with real history but it is a lot of fun watching Burt and Kirk in one of the best "buddy" films of all time. From his early "noir" films right up to the end of his career Burt was always giving us a fine performance (and lets not forget his Oscar for *Elmer Gantry* )

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Who could forget this:

 

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What everyone else has said: love Burt's screen presence and versatility. Was there anything he couldn't do well? Did Burt ever do comedy?

 

If you really enjoy Burt and want to know more about him I highly recommend BURT LANCASTER AN AMERICAN LIFE by Kate Buford. It's a big thick biography that covers his life from humble Brooklyn beginnings, to his vanities, home life and development of his own production company.

He certainly was a fascinating man whose light & talent lives on in his film performances.

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Not me Tiki, could never forget that kiss. Thanks for posting 1 of 2 of my favorite screen kisses of all time. The other is (McQuuen and Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair) LOVE Burt Lancaster, gorgeous and intelligent, he was a pleasure to watch. Truly one of the finest actors ever to grace the screen.

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Burt Lancaster is never going to be thought of for doing comedy but I believe he had the capacity for it. He seemed to enjoy self parody and it shows in his performance from time to time. Burt could really shift gears in his performance as he does in *Elmer Gantry* . One moment he is so over the top , almost too much "ham" , the next minute he is so serious, subdued. Like another favorite of mine, Charles Laughton, Burt knows when to take center stage and when to stand aside and give the other actors their moment. Burt had a reputation of being rather difficult to work with at times but I really believe it was because of his passion for wanting to make a good film. What some would call having ego I believe was more just having self confidence. I have the Lancaster book, it has a lot of fascinating detail (I believe mostly accurate) and shows that this man really enjoyed his life and welcomed challenging opportunities. I don't believe he did a lot of talk show interviews but I remember him being very open and honest on a Phil Donahue show.

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I've been a big fan of Burt's films since I was a kid and watched him and Nick Cravat buckle every swash in sight in The Crimson Pirate.

As I grew older I appreciated Burt's more serious roles, however, I will entertain all theories concerning Castle Keep. Can't quite get a handle on that one.

One of his best later roles is also under-rated - Bob Valdez in Valdez is Coming (1971). Bob epitomizes weary dignity until he is pushed too far.

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*Criss Cross* , a very underrated, not often seen noir (fortunately I have the dvd). Burt did very well working with EGR in *All My Sons* , Cooper in *Vera Cruz* , Gable in *Run Silent, Run Deep* , Tracy and many others in *Judgment at Nuremburg* , etc, etc.

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Regarding self parody, Burt and Kirk in Tough Guys is a personal treat for me. After having spent a lifetime watching them on the big screen with grit teeth it tickles me to watch them basically play up to their screen images. A hilariously bad visioned hit man (Eli Wallach) also helps.

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*Tough Guys* is a fun film to watch. Both Burt and Kirk are around 70 years old here but both still have a lot of spunk and remind us of what real movie stars were like. A lot like Lemmon and Matthau in the *Grumpy Old Men" films. Anyone know if Burt ever appeared on the Carson Tonight show?

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*The Hallelujah Trail* was a film Burt made with my fav gal Lee Remick and is supposed to be a comedy. Its one of those films that for me has all of the pieces for being great but somehow falls way short. I love the casting (and I believe they all worked well together) and John Sturges (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) directed it so what gives? I watch it over and over but always find it somewhat disappointing (I don't blame Burt for this). Maybe my expectations are too high, all of the parts are first rate but the sum is second rate. Another film that does this to me is *Two Rode Together* with James Stewart and Richard Widmark and John Ford directing. Often 2 2 equals a 4 or even a 5. But sometimes 2 2 only equals a 3.

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I believe Lancaster once said he was proudest of his work in "The Leopard" (1963), Luchino Visconti's three-hour epic about a 19th-century Sicilian family. I'm looking forward to seeing it again because the costumes were designed by Visconti favorite Piero Tosi, who will receive an honorary Oscar for his career work on November 16th.

 

Edited by: jakeem on Nov 1, 2013 8:41 AM

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I don't see here yet mention of one of Burt's very best movies and performances "Sweet Smell of Success". And a film which shows Burt was fearless in taking on unsympathetic roles. I was privleged to see hin in person years sgo at LACMA in Los Angeles, their film series which was outstanding wherein the stars iintroduced their films and did some q & a. The night I went the films were "Sweet Smell" and "Come Back Little Sheba". Burt was endesring, funny, gracious.

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Saw in the schedule that The Professionals (1966) is part of the tribute. Since Burt was born in 1913, that means he was about 53 when he climbed up the rock face with a rope in this movie.

One small scene in this film always picked at me. When the four are watching Raza's camp from above, Marvin's character tells Woody Strode to quiet their horses, thus removing him from the sight of a topless soldada washing herself. But Strode's character was the scout/tracker. The horse wrangler of the group was Robert Ryan's character and he would be the logical one to handle the horses.

O tempora, o mores.

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Hey, Finance...if you'd like to see more of Burt doing comedy, albeit in a highly camped up way which was typical of tv variety shows of the time, there's a bit on You Tube with from the Colgate Comedy Hour with Martin and Lewis and with Burt parodying his role in "Come Back Little Sheba". Also for fun watching, I just checked out his Oscar acceptance speech for "Elmer Gantry" there too at this spot...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQql7wXtGoI.

 

Now for my money, Burt was maybe one of the best looking male physical specimens on film bar none. We can also include in real life also. If that stupid People Magazine had been around, I'm sure Burt would have beaten out candidates like Matt Damon, who looks like Charlie Brown next to him or maybe Jimmy Olsen!

 

Since I was speaking of nudity on film recently, I was amused by the fact that TCM's recent showing of "The Swimmer" had Burt nude in one shot and since I'd never seen it in a theatre I had no idea he had displayed his pulchritudinous posterior in any films. No surprise...it looked as good as the rest of him. Considering that he was in his mid-50's in that film, I'd like to see any of the current male stars of that age wear a bathing suit all through a film and not disappoint. He was mesmerizing just walking around the woods and around pools, sort of with an amazing animal magnetism and charisma that maybe only Errol Flynn had.

 

Sorry for being a female chauvinist pig but that man was gorgeous! I like him best though in a weird role for him, as supportive husband to Shirley Booth in CBLS and also with Anna Magnani in TRT. Who can forget his vile presence and chilling demeanor as J. J.Hunsecker though as one of his best, which was also so fab?

 

I watched "The Leopard" on TCM awhile back and kept meaning to check and see if Lancaster was dubbed? It sure does not sound like him but maybe I'm wrong. Off to IMDB...

 

Well Happy Birthday, Burt on your 100th birthday!

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