Friday, November 15, 2013

Kirk Douglas Week: Ladies Man

Kirk Douglas week started with 1965's The Heroes of Telemark, a World War II set flick about Norwegian Resistance fighters destroying a Nazi factory producing "heavy water", a vital component of atomic bombs.  How do we meet Kirk in that one?  In a darkroom making out with a college student.  While on the mission he runs into his ex-wife and of course wins her over with his heroic smoothness.  According to Ragman's Son, Kirk signed on without seeing a script as he owed a movie to director Anthony Mann who had been fired from Spartacus.

Next was 1958's The Vikings, Richard Fleisher's tale of sailing the high seas, kidnapping Queens, storming castles and fulfilling unknown destiny.  How do we meet Kirk in that one?  He's necking with someone's wife in bed.  He then clears her name by throwing axes at her bound by the neck and wrists body at a party.  Later, there's a great action sequence where Vikings throw axes at a raised drawbridge until there's enough for Douglas to jump the gap and climb up, using the embedded axes as rungs. Douglas produced the flick and was dismayed when the European crew went on strike for more money the day after he threw them a lavish thank you party.  The Koik took the production back to Los Angeles and left the greedy fools in the dust.

Then came 1966's Cast a Giant Shadow, the star filled tale of Israel fighting for independence.  Kirk leaves his pregnant wife to join the fight and quickly meets a beautiful resistance fighter who is of course married whose husband of course dies and you can probably figure out what happens next.  The K-Doug is joined by John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and Yul Brynner in vital supporting roles as they whip the unorganized, untrained and unarmed masses into an army.

Lastly was a trip back to 1957's Gunfight at O.K. Corral where we meet Douglas as Doc Holliday in a hotel room with his on again/off again working girl woman Kate.  Their relationship is quite volatile but they always end up coming back to one another.  Burt Lancaster's Wyatt Earp urges Doc to treat her right or let her go.  By the end of the flick, Doc leaves Kate to help Wyatt, the only friend he ever had.  Kate takes up with outlaw Johnny Ringo who Doc snubs out later with extreme prejudice.

So what was the underlying connection between all of these films?  What did we learn from all of this?  Kirk Douglas loves the ladies and tends to have some pretty intense dealings with them.  Self described as always unhappy until something makes him happy, Douglas was quick to play a role of someone unlikeable as it gave him more to work with as an actor.  Adding in tumultuous relations with men and women alike (the love story between himself and Lancaster in Corral is more interesting than the lady dealings) just made him that much more dynamic to watch.

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