Whether the hero or the scoundrel, legendary actor Kirk Douglas has won over audiences with his portrayals of tough, headstrong men who boldly define their own destinies.
UCSB Arts & Lectures and the Carsey-Wolf Center will pay tribute to the Oscar winner with “Kirk Douglas on Film,” a new seven-date film series featuring the master screen actor in his most captivating roles — from a crooked film producer in The Bad and the Beautiful to Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life to the title role in the gladiator epic Spartacus.
Screenings are scheduled Oct. 1 to Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. (except as noted) at Pollock Theater, UCSB’s state-of-the-art film theater, located at the central bus loop on campus. (Parking in the Mesa Parking Structure, Lot 18.)
Monday, Oct. 1 (Double Feature)
In an Oscar-nominated breakthrough performance, Douglas plays ruthless prizefighter Midge Kelly, who battles his demons in the boxing ring. Powerfully told through the eyes of Kelly’s intimates, Champion was based on a short story by Ring Lardner and is considered one of the best boxing dramas of all time.
(Mark Robson, 1949, 99 min.)
Ace in the Hole (9 p.m.)
Douglas portrays Chuck Tatim, an unscrupulous, hard-bitten reporter who will stop at nothing to get back his job at a big city newspaper by manipulating the events of a story. Critic Roger Ebert writes of Douglas’ star turn: “There is nothing dated about [his] performance. It’s as right-now as a sharpened knife.”
(Billy Wilder, 1951, 112 min.)
Monday, Oct. 8
A powerful film starring Douglas as Detective James McLeod, a hard-boiled, justice-obsessed New York City police detective who uncovers a secret that hits uncomfortably close to home. With unflinching depictions of its characters’ darker sides, Detective Story influenced cop series from Dragnet to NYPD Blue.
(William Wyler, 1951, 105 min.)
Monday, Oct. 15
The Bad and the Beautiful
Winner of five Oscars, a behind-the-scenes look at the tawdry side of Hollywood with Douglas as back-stabbing film producer Jonathan Shields. Told in flashback, it features Lana Turner and Barry Sullivan respectively as the actress and director he double-crosses on his rise to the top, with Walter Pidgeon as the studio head who attempts to reconcile them.
(Vincente Minnelli, 1952, 116 min.)
Monday, Oct. 22
Lust for Life
The tormented genius-painter Vincent van Gogh (Douglas in his third Oscar-nominated role) pursues an impossible quest for artistic perfection. With visually stunning scenes depicting the creation of some of van Gogh’s most famous works, the film was based on the best-selling novel by Irving Stone. Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for his supporting role as Paul Gauguin.
(Vincente Minnelli, 1956, 122 min.)
Monday, Oct. 29
Paths of Glory
Douglas plays Colonel Dax, a French commanding officer who takes on the army’s mercenary top brass when his men are court-martialed and accused of cowardice after they’re sent on a suicide mission in World War I. Stanley Kubrick’s critically acclaimed anti-war picture was adapted from a novel that was loosely based on a true story.
(Stanley Kubrick, 1957, 86 min.)
Monday, Nov. 5
Adventure epic with Douglas as a fearsome Viking prince; Tony Curtis as his secret half-brother; and Janet Leigh as the alluring princess they both are vying for – along with the Northumbrian throne of Britain. Shot on location throughout Norway, the film spawned the TV series Tales of the Vikings and featured Ernest Borgnine as the defiant leader of the Vikings and their father.
(Richard Fleischer, 1958, 115 min.)
Wednesday, Nov. 14
Spartacus, 7 p.m. (note special date and time)
Free wine and cheese reception at intermission. Ages 21 and up.
Douglas stars in the Oscar-winning epic tale of Spartacus, the indomitable slave-turned-gladiator, who led a revolt against the corrupt Roman Empire. Co-starring Peter Ustinov and Laurence Olivier. Ninety-five-year-old Douglas recently wrote a candid memoir (I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist) about the blockbuster movie and his role in helping break Hollywood’s blacklist.
(Stanley Kubrick, 1960, 196 min.)
Tickets for “Kirk Douglas on Film” are $10 for the general public and $5 for UCSB students with a current student ID.
For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535 or click here.
— Karna Hughes is a senior writer and publicist for UCSB Arts & Lectures.