Spartacus (1960)

RIP, Kirk Douglas.

One of the last living legends of Hollywood has gone. Kirk Douglas passed away on February 5th, at the age of 103. A ripe old age, and a life that seems to have been as heroic as the characters he portrayed onscreen. Kirk Douglas grew up in a Jewish ghetto as the son of immigrants from what is now Belarus; his athleticism (he became a professional wrestler at an early age) was what eventually helped him pay for an education and go on to win a scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Douglas’s acting career (on stage, at the time) was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, and he, having enlisted in the US Navy, did not return to theatre until ceasefire in 1945.

The post-war period also resulted in a breakthrough into cinema for Douglas, leading him to his first role, in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). From this point onwards, there was no looking back: over the next 60 years, he acted in many films, some of them landmarks in the history of cinema, like Lust for Life, Spartacus, and Paths of Glory. Besides his impressive acting career, Douglas was also involved in various humanitarian causes, donating funds for causes as diverse as a children’s hospital and a television and motion picture fund.

As tribute, therefore, to Kirk Douglas, my review of one of his most famous films, a sword-and-sandals epic about a rebellious (real life) slave.

Continue reading

Paths of Glory (1957)

We’ve been on a spate of tributes all this month. First, it was a farewell for Dev Anand, the man who embodied ‘leading man’ for so many Indians across generations. Then, there were birthdays – for the ‘hunkiest of them all’, Dharmendra, and then for one of Hindi cinema’s greatest thespians, Dilip Kumar. Somewhere amidst all those tributes, another great birthday got left out. Kirk Douglas turned 95 on December 9, 2011. So, here’s wishing Mr Douglas a (rather belated) happy birthday, and here’s looking at one of his best-known films.


Continue reading

The Vikings (1958)

As I mentioned in a previous post, watching this film gave me a sense of déjà vu. There’s a lot about it that’s very reminiscent of classic Hindi cinema. The lost heir who can be identified by an amulet he wears; the long-lost brothers who don’t know they’re related and are at daggers drawn, partly because both love the same woman… fortunately, though, The Vikings is more than just a precursor to so many Hindi films. It’s also a very watchable film, with superb cinematography and a general air of having been made much, much later than it actually was.

Continue reading