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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM Remembers: Kirk Douglas 3/5

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the life and career of the iconic actor Kirk Douglas with a 24-hour programming tribute on March 5, one month after the iconic actor's passing at the age of 101 on February 5, 2020.

Douglas was known for his work in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and beyond. The man with chiseled good looks and a one of the most famous dimpled chins of all of cinema history, acted in more than 80 movies before he retired in 2004. He is also credited for breaking the "Hollywood Blacklist" when, as a producer, he not only hired Dalton Trumbo to write Spartacus (1960), but gave the greatly admired screenwriter full screen credit for his work. This monumental gesture paved the way for other producers to do the same, thus shattering the practice of eight-balling artists who were accused of being communist in the post war years of the late 1940s and all of the 1950s.

Douglas earned three Academy Award® nominations for Best Actor for his work in Champion (1949), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Lust for Life (1956). He eventually received an Honorary Academy Award in 1995 for his 50 years as a creative and moral force in the movie industry. Early, in 1981, President Jimmy Carter awarded Douglas the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States, for especially meritorious contribution to "cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". These are some very impressive achievements for a man who was born in poverty to an immigrant "rag man".

The 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival is also making a point of featuring a screening of what is perhaps Douglas' best remembered film, the afore mentioned, Spartacus (1960). The milestone of cinema is 60 years old and still resonates will cinephiles everywhere. A new 70mm print from a 4K restoration by Universal Pictures will make its premiere at the 11th annual TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2021.

I was fortunate to catch his one many show at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City back in 2009. At 92, the film legend returned to live theater in a biographical presentation of his life and career. It was an exciting theater experience that offered an honest and self deprecating look at one man's journey through life on and off the screen. And to think, he still had another nine years ahead of him.

Personally, I find it hard to dislike any of Douglas' work. His mere presence in a film is reason enough to watch it. You're guaranteed a fine performance on his part, and his consent to participate in a film allows a certain gravitas to any production. Watch any one of his films and you'll know exactly what I mean. You'll have an opportunity to do so Thursday, March 5 when TCM presents the best of the best of one of Hollywoods most beloved personalities. The following is the complete schedule for TCM's on-air tribute to Kirk Douglas.

6:00 a.m. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) – Years after a murder drove them apart, an heiress tries to win back her lost love.

8:00 a.m. Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) – A recovering alcoholic film director tries for a comeback in Rome.

10:00 a.m. The Story of Three Loves (1953) – Passengers on an ocean liner recall their greatest loves.

12:15 p.m. Along The Great Divide (1951) – A U.S. Marshal tries to get a rustler to trial before a vengeful rancher can kill him.

2:00 p.m. Out of the Past (1947) – A private eye becomes the dupe of a homicidal moll.

3:45 p.m. Young Man With a Horn (1950) – A young trumpet player is torn between an honest singer and a manipulative heiress.

5:45 p.m. Lust for Life (1956) – Passionate biography of painter Vincent van Gogh, whose genius drove him mad.

8:00 p.m. Paths of Glory (1958) – A military lawyer comes to question the status quo when he defends three men accused of cowardice.

9:45 p.m. Spartacus (1960) – Enslaved gladiator Thracian Spartacus leads a rebellion of slaves against the Roman Republic.

1:15 a.m. Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival: Michael Douglas (2018) – Ben Mankiewicz interviews actor/producer Michael Douglas at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival.

2:30 a.m. The Bad and the Beautiful (1953) – An unscrupulous movie producer uses everyone around him in his climb to the top.

4:55 a.m. Seven Days in May (1964) – An American military officer discovers his superiors are planning a military coup.

With a schedule like this, I'm tempted to call in sick to work and bundle up on my couch for a day of terrific cinema. Thank god for DVRs or I would be doing just that.


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