Burt Lancaster is one of those actors that I began to follow at an early age once I was old enough to connect the dots. He was Wyatt Earp to this young fan of westerns on Saturday afternoon television while growing up. A trapeze artist, a pirate, a soldier and so much more as I got older and tuned in to films like The Swimmer or The Sweet Smell of Success. I thought it wonderful that at an advanced age he was at the top of his craft in Atlantic City and back in a popcorn movie with Kirk Douglas in Tough Guys that I caught on opening night of it’s release.
So the point is that many of my favorite actors had very long film careers. Burt began in 1946 and never really stopped until a stroke delivered the final blow to his career. He acted all the way into the 90’s and went out on the big screen in a memorable role with Field of Dreams following that up with some movies for the small screen before his forced retirement.
Not too long ago I recently heard that someone had just discovered Lancaster and looked forward to seeing more of his films. Boy was I jealous. Can you imagine getting the opportunity to start all over again and see his films for the first time?
What better way to kick start this idea then with one of cinema’s all time greats. An actor who grew old gracefully right before our eyes and demanded our respect right up until the end.
Any favorites of your own? Do tell.
So many Lancaster favorites that it’s impossible to nail one down. I love those early noir pictures – The Killers & Criss Cross – where the vulnerability blends into the toughness beautifully. Then there’s the laughing cavalier of The Crimson Pirate & The Flame and the Arrow.
And that grin of Vera Cruz contrasts beautifully with the stiffness and austerity of his Wyatt Earp, which much later morphs into the grit and philosophy of Ulzana’s Raid.
And what about the manipulative cynicism of Sweet Smell of Success? Picking a favorite from all of those, and many more besides, is really impossible.
Such a large body of work and once he held power in Hollywood he wasn’t afraid to try other types of roles. Some worked some didn’t but full marks for bringing many films to the screen that may not have been made if not for him.
I for one love the Burt grin and that unshaven smile in Vera Cruz a beauty. Later on in Tough Guys he has a nice in-joke with his pearly whites at the old folks home he has been put out to pasture in.
Yes, the man’s influence is not something to take for granted. And that kind of influence isn’t achieved without taking a few risks. Sure some didn’t pay off, but a lot did.
Will be a fun series, and I plan to join in at least one of the decades! And I won’t spoil but one of your posts will cover a top 3 Burt fave of mine, can’t wait.
So many great flicks to choose from but yes I know the one you are a fan of. Hope I don’t disappoint! It’s a wonderful showcase for him.
And again hopefully whoever stops by gets inspired to look for his films.