Happy 100th birthday to Kirk Douglas, born December 9, 1916.
A little after midnight I added Kirk Douglas to the top of my Centenarians page. The last edit to that page acknowledged the November 12 death of Lupita Tovar—let me say, once again, it’s much more enjoyable adding names to that page, and this year featured the addition of two major stars of classic Hollywood, Olivia de Havilland, and now Kirk Douglas.
While Kirk Douglas strays a little late on the Immortal Ephemera time-line, I have covered him a couple of times in the past: back when he was Turner Classic Movie’s Star of the Month in September 2011, and then a couple of weeks later when I had completed and reviewed his 1988 autobiography The Ragman’s Son.
Speaking of Turner Classic Movies, I’m a bit flummoxed to see Kirk Douglas absent from their December 9 schedule.
While I love many of the movies they’re playing today (see below), I can’t understand why they didn’t at least squeeze in a handful of Kirk Douglas classics during the daytime. One of their most common scheduling gimmicks is birthdays, sometimes of talents so obscure that it takes a little detective work to even recognize the trend, so it’s a little strange that they skipped a living star celebrating the big one-oh-oh, who’ll be trending all over the web today.
Frankly, I was surprised that he wasn’t Star of the Month.
—As were some in this TCM Discussion Board post. I see reading through the first couple of pages (start at the bottom of the last page, page 5 as I write this, and work your way up the page and "back" towards page 1) that Myrna Loy earned the honor through a TCM Backlot vote. Over Bette Davis. Not a great excuse.
Anyway, TCM did recently play one of my Kirk Douglas favorites, Lust for Life (1956) last Saturday, December 3. Douglas is featured in A Letter to Three Wives (1949) this Sunday night, December 11, and then a little later this month in film noir classic Out of the Past (1947) on December 21.
A reminder, when I start talking TV any dates, times, or channels that I mention come from my desk on Long Island, on the East Coast of the US in the Eastern Time Zone.
Of course, last night TCM played The Glass Menagerie, but—salt in the wound—it was the rare 1966 CBS Playhouse television adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, not the 1950 feature film starring Douglas and Jane Wyman.
The digital subchannel Decades—which I find myself watching a lot lately—do their best by Kirk Douglas with their Friday block of programming featuring Douglas on The Dick Cavett Show, in an episode of Touched by an Angel, and in the feature Heroes of Telemark (1965).
Movies, another over-the-air subchannel, plays two Kirk Douglas features on Friday, My Dear Secretary (1948) and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). And, if you can wait a day, THIS TV plays the Stanley Kubrick classic Paths of Glory (1957) very early (5:00 am ET) Saturday morning, December 10.
Netflix doesn’t currently earn my dollar*, but this USA Today article points out that subscribers can currently stream Douglas in The Man from Snowy River (1982 — also playing on StarzEncore Westerns on Saturday) and The Fury (1978).
* If you can't show me what's in your library, I can't show you my credit card. Goes for you too now, Hulu.
The same USA Today article also mentions a couple of Douglas titles streaming for Amazon Prime subscribers, but for a few bucks you can view many of Douglas’ best classics as streaming rentals via Amazon (typically starting at $2.99).
So what are your favorite Kirk Douglas movies? I’m all over the place with him, but I will never walk away from a TV playing any of these: Out of the Past (1947), Ace in the Hole (1951), Detective Story (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Lust for Life (1956), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), or Paths of Glory (1957).
Those are plenty to establish Kirk Douglas as a screen legend, and I didn’t even mention Champion (1949). Young Man with a Horn (1950). Spartacus (1960). Seven Days in May (1964). And probably a few of your own favorites.
One more time, Happy Birthday, Kirk Douglas!
More Kirk Douglas
I only became aware of it this morning, but my friend Karen over at Shadows and Satin hosted a Kirk Douglas Blogathon to celebrate the star's one hundredth birthday. What's this mean? It means there are a whole lot of brand new articles about Kirk Douglas movies for you to read by some of the best bloggers out there. The new posts are all linked from THIS PAGE of Karen's site.
Complicating my bewilderment over TCM’s decision not to play any Kirk Douglas movies on his one hundredth birthday, I’ve got to admit that I’m otherwise loving Friday’s TCM lineup!
The day begins with four movies starring Alice White, number four of which (The Naughty Flirt ) also features December's Star of the Month Myrna Loy, who is in everything else playing through Saturday morning.
So, in case you’re looking for a little extra reading, here are a few more relevant posts, articles, and reviews from my archives: