I want to wish the happiest of birthdays to one Mr. Kirk Douglas, longtime Hollywood legend and movie star extraordinaire who celebrates his 100th birthday today and is thankfully still with us. I hate when people talk about someone as one of the "last great movie stars" as if they don't exist in every era. We have movie stars today, they just don't feel like Kirk Douglas yet in the same way Kirk Douglas didn't feel like Mary Pickford or Clark Gable when he burst onto the scene in the mid-1940's, though it's worth noting Douglas almost instantly became a headliner after The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.
Douglas for me has been an acquired taste, but I've gotten there through the years. What has to be said is that he picks wonderful movies to appear in, even if he himself had to grow as an actor as the years went by. Look at something as brilliant as Out of the Past, undoubtedly the best of his pictures, and the way he plays against Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, remaining unknowable even as an extroverted guy, making his villain harder-to-read but dangerous. My favorite of all of his performances is surely Spartacus, which is a mountain of a movie and shows him at his movie star peak. And of course I'll always be glad that he brought his son Michael into the world, as he's one of my favorite actors.
So please peruse our past catalog of thoughts on Kirk Douglas (I feel like I should have written something more here, but we do discuss Douglas a lot if you want your fill), and I hope this great movie star (not one of the last, but surely one of the greats) has 100 more!