Kirk Douglas’ Best Films

Cleft-chinned movie tough-guy Kirk Douglas passed away yesterday at the age of 103. The popular actor was just as tough in real-life, surviving a stroke in 1996 at the age of 80 that left him with slurred speech and damaged facial nerves. He continued making public appearances though, including two weeks later at the Academy Awards where he received a lifetime achievement award. The actor leaves behind a legacy of films in Hollywood that showcase a wonderful career. Here are some of our favourites.

Spartacus: While Douglas may have had bigger roles in his career, perhaps one of his best-known  was playing the Roman slave who led a revolt against the Republic. Acting alongside such legendary stars as Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov, Douglas showed he was no slouch and could perform with the best of them.

Champion: Douglas was nominated for three Oscars over the course of his career, and the first of them came in this 1949 film where he played ruthless boxer Midge Kelly who rose to fame by stepping on anyone in his way. It was a powerful performance that stands as one of his very best.

Tough Guys: Douglas starred in this film with his longtime friend Burt Lancaster, and in it they played a pair of elderly gangsters who had a hard time fitting in after being released from a long term prison sentence. While known for playing tough guys throughout his career, Douglas also had a strong sense of humor which he displayed in this 1986 film.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers: The first film of Douglas’ career came in this 1946 Barbara Stanwyck-led film. He was suggested for the part by an acting school classmate by the name of Betty Joan Perske, who later changed her name to Lauren Bacall. In it Douglas played the part of Stanwyck’s husband.

Lust For Life: Douglas had stated that his favourite role was playing Vincent Van Gogh in this 1956 film that explored the famed artist’s tortured life. It was the last time Douglas would be nominated for an Academy Award, and it is arguably his best performance of his career. 

Lonely Are The Brave: Throughout his career, Douglas played many roles, but he played that of a cowboy more than any. In this one he plays a man who gets himself locked up in prison on purpose in order to help a friend escape, and when he discovers his friend doesn’t want to be freed, he breaks out on his own and is forced to evade the law.

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