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Posted: September 25th, 2007, 11:40 pm
by ken123
Any comments ? Mr. Douglas was a rat in this one, but having three lovely ladies wanting you certainly isn't bad ! :wink: Ken - Male Chauvinist 8) :lol:

Posted: September 26th, 2007, 9:28 am
by sugarpuss
I do like "Champion", but now that I've seen the other boxing movie of that year, I prefer "The Set-Up". However, "Champion" is one of those good movies to watch if you like seeing the rise and fall of someone--which I do. I never thought I'd be a person who would enjoy boxing movies, but I try to never miss one.

The one thing that I loved was how all these women kept falling at Kirk Douglas' feet. I guess the ladies loved to be treated like crap (I always felt bad for Lola Albright), but then power and fame makes one very attractive--which is the whole draw of the story. Of course, this is the bias talking but I would have taken Arthur Kennedy over Kirk Douglas. So he walked with a limp and used a cane. Big deal. At least he would never break your heart. In Hollywood and real life, women just love the bad ones.

Ring Lardner's short story is way, way different than the movie. In the first few paragraphs, Midge steals money from Connie, beats him with his cane and leaves him unconscious on the floor. You could have never started out the movie like that!

On a somewhat unrelated note, I always marvel at how "gimps" are treated in classic movies. It seems that they're worse than the plauge. The characters are always berating them and mocking them. It just seems so odd in today's world, where everyone is much more sensitive to the subject.

Posted: September 26th, 2007, 3:46 pm
by jdb1
Stanley Kramer talks about this movie in his memoirs, and comes just inches short of calling Douglas an obnoxious boor. However, he acknowledges that the qualities he found troubling in Douglas made Kramer think him perfect for the role.

Posted: September 27th, 2007, 12:23 am
by Erebus
There are more than a few Kirk movies that I like, such as “... O.K. Corral”, “In Harm’s Way”. “Detective Story”, and others, but he does seem like a natural when it comes to playing a jerk. Kinda like how I feel about Newman in “Hud” or “Hombre”: seems like the jerk character comes a little too easy, though I like both films, whereas in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” he, along with Taylor, ruins it. Similarly for Sinatra in “Pal Joey”, where he plays an extroverted, womanizing presumptive who spoils the otherwise pleasant presences of Novak and Rita. (I really don’t like extroverts.)

All three, and others, are hyper, unrestrained talents who can poison what might have been fine views, at least for me.

Conversely, the young Clint Eastwood, whom I could easily see offending spirits much like myself, NEVER does anything but charm me with his arrogant self-confidence. Can’t say where the distinction lies. Same thing goes for Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and Fonda Sr., whereas there have been films where Lancaster puts me off. Funny thing, personality, meaning mine, or ours, not theirs.

edit: I said I don't know where the distinction lies, but upon reflection it seems to me that Eastwood, Bronson, McQueen, and Fonda are introverts, but Douglas, Sinatra, and Lancaster are not. I think Newman is. So much the worse for him, an unliked, if not unlikable, introvert. (Yes, I jest, sorta, and I realize the intro/extro is not the only polarity relevant here.)

Posted: September 27th, 2007, 5:26 am
by moira finnie
Stanley Kramer talks about this movie in his memoirs, and comes just inches short of calling Douglas an obnoxious boor. However, he acknowledges that the qualities he found troubling in Douglas made Kramer think him perfect for the role. ~ Jdb1
There are more than a few Kirk movies that I like, such as “... O.K. Corral”, “In Harm’s Way”. “Detective Story”, and others, but he does seem like a natural when it comes to playing a jerk. ~ Erebus
Reading "The Ragman's Son", Kirk Douglas' memoir, the actor states repeatedly that one of the reasons that he played parts this way was--shock--he was a 24 karat jerk in those days. In his sometimes aggressively candid manner, Douglas apologizes in print to everyone he hurt, on screen and off---including more than one wife, mistress, and myriad co-workers. I guess if you live long enough, you may learn a few things.

Btw, he relished playing those parts as the skunks they were, and loved being a big, honking movie star. He puts me off at times, and at other times I will laugh out loud at his most outrageously self-indulgent moments on screen. Yet, when he had a good script,the discipline of a fine director and other actors such as Arthur Kennedy in films like Champion, Detective Story, Ace in the Hole, and Lonely Are the Brave, the guy was a fascinating actor to watch.

Btw, I just noticed that there are two Douglas films from this relatively early peak of his career on TCM today, Sept. 27th:
1:15pm EDT Ace In the Hole (1951)
A small-town reporter milks a local disaster to get back into the big time.
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur.. Dir: Billy Wilder

3:15pm EDT The Juggler (1953)
A Jewish refugee fights to overcome the psychological effects of his World War II experiences.
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Milly Vitale, Paul Stewart. Dir: Edward Dmytryk.

I haven't seen The Juggler in some time. Set in Israel after the war, it has some moving moments. I like Edward Dmytryk's more unprepossessing movies made on a shoestring. Perhaps this one falls into that category.

Posted: September 27th, 2007, 8:36 am
by jdb1
You know, Moira, I have a similar reaction to Douglas: I really don't like him much, but I think he is a compelling performer, so I watch him, and try to lose myself in the character, rather than the actor, as I might do with others I like better. There's no doubt in my mind that he is a real Movie Star, but I can't bring up any particularly warm feelings about him.

I guess it's like the reactions one has to people they like, but don't love, or even love, but don't necessarily like.

PS: I think one of the funniest things I've ever seen was Frank Gorshin's impression of Douglas.

Posted: January 30th, 2008, 5:04 pm
by kimpunkrock
Kirk Douglas just shines in this movie. This was the movie that definitely solidified his career in Hollywood. There are so many raw parts of Kirk in this movie. I can see hints of his films to come in his performance. He has always been one of my all time favorite actors.

Arthur Kennedy is also very good in this movie. I really enjoy any movie that he has a part in. He is one of the best supporting actors of his day.

Champion---one of kimpunkrock's must see Essentials!

Posted: January 30th, 2008, 5:19 pm
by ken123
It's a shame that the DVD does not include an audio commentary ! :cry:

Posted: January 30th, 2008, 6:11 pm
by moira finnie
Welcome Kim!

I also like Champion, even though Kirk Douglas is almost having too good a time being a swine! My favorite performance in this movie is the one given by the underrated Paul Stewart. Mr. S., who never gave a poor performance, from what I've seen, was an exemplary actor for about 50 years on screen. And Arthur Kennedy--though his bad guys are the best--was also always one of the more believable good eggs in movies.

Posted: January 31st, 2008, 6:53 am
by Ollie
Kirk Douglas' jerk-nature was perfect in roles, but it made me hard to tolerate films where he was the only 'star' in it. SEVEN DAYS IN MAY is one of those "he may be a jerk, but he's Our Jerk" kinda roles. DETECTIVE STORY, too.

I have a hard time popping in his DVDs voluntarily, though.

Posted: January 31st, 2008, 7:03 am
by ChiO
Kirk Douglas' jerk-nature was perfect in roles, but it made me hard to tolerate films where he was the only 'star' in it.
Maybe that's it. My impulse is always to say that I don't care for Kirk Douglas movies, but then there are a few films he is in that I love: PATHS OF GLORY, OUT OF THE PAST, and (one of my most vivid childhood movie experiences) THE VIKINGS. None of those movies depend solely on his character to move the action.

Posted: January 31st, 2008, 7:25 am
by Ollie
PATHS OF GLORY is one I forget about all the time, and that's definitely a film I like watching. And I suspect it's because Douglas is in one of those "At Least He's Our Jerk" roles.

OUT OF THE PAST is a film I generally don't watch because he's such a despicable character, but I love it when Jane Greer could be even worse - and SO beautiful, too. Somehow, I end up watching a lot of beautiful women in films (until wifeypoo notices I've been watching Gene Tierney, Grace, Jane Greer, Fay Wray, Rita, and Hedy films a lot).

"This is, what? your second time watching WATERLOO BRIDGE this week?"

I didn't finish it last time.

"And what's THE BIG STEAL doing out again? I thought I put that back yesterday. And LAURA and SIDEWALK's out? And you've got GILDA on now?"

Yes, it's a Glenn Ford vs. Dana Andrews festival.

It's a wonder my back-of-head doesn't have her hand-imprint on it.

Kirk's Legacy and a Noir City Dispatch

Posted: January 31st, 2008, 1:11 pm
by Alan K.
Hi all:

While taking a couple deep breaths from Noir City 6 in San Francisco this morning, I spotted this thread on Kirk Douglas and couldn't restrain myself from adding a comment.

Kirk Douglas will turn 92 this year. His struggle to overcome a debilitating stroke is the highwater mark in a life characterized by an implacable will to succeed.

There is no doubt that Douglas was a great star with unbelievable drive who is, by now, a much more mellowed personage. Richard Fleischer told me that working with Douglas on THE VIKINGS took years off of his life-" doesn't make a movie with Kirk, one survives the experience", he also added that if wasn't for Douglas, there wouldn't have been THE VIKINGS for him to direct. For further clarity, there is the actor's own statement that the main reason he produced SPARTACUS was out of egotistic pique of being passed over by William Wyler for the lead in BEN HUR the previous year. One does have to admire the high octane chutzpah that drove this man to such significant achievements.

However, none of this alters Douglas' long-term reputation for unbridled arrogance that was apparently well-earned. The numerous stories that I've heard from various people who worked with him all possess a common thread. Kirk Douglas might have been the most unpopular star with his peers in movie history. He was professionally admirable, but apparently an unlovable figure during his long career.

Here's an opening weekend dispatch from Noir City 6:

Joan Leslie was the special guest on Friday opening night at the Castro Theatre in the midst of a horrific downpour. We screened REPEAT PERFORMANCE and THE HARD WAY and Joan shared her reminicences on stage between the film. Her first three movies as a teenager at Warners were opposite Bogart, Gary Cooper and James Cagney! Joan possesses a sly sense of humor and was a pure delight. Her birthday was on Saturday and everyone in the theatre stood up and sang "Happy Birthday" to her before she exited the stage to an ovation. Very sweet.

Saturday nite was the premiere of the UCLA Film and Television Archive's
restoration of Joseph Losey's THE PROWLER (1951) that was funded by the Film Noir Foundation. The restoration team from UCLA was in attendance along with Chris Trumbo, son of the great blacklisted writer, Dalton Trumbo who wrote the script for THE PROWLER under a front. Introducing the festivities was the one and only James Ellroy who wrote a check towards the restoration and added his unique riotous touch. In between the films, Eddie Muller's short film THE GRAND INQUISITOR starring Marsha Hunt had its world debut. A wonderfully dark (and I mean DARK) picture with a smashing return to the screen by the ageless Marsha Hunt who accompanied me to San Francisco with Joan Leslie for
the premiere. Marsha is a national treasure and we had a blast for two days. Before the film there was also a booksigning for Megan Abbott's mystery anthology, A HELL OF A WOMAN with all of the writers in attendance. The Castro Theatre- all 1400 seats-was sold out on a clear, cold Saturday night. All though I lean towards hyperbole, trust me on this one: it really was an incredible evening!

The subsequent screenings have been hugely attended. We had about 700 people in the theatre last night for the two Charles McGraw films that I introduced after a book signing. A gorgeous new 35mm print of REIGN OF TERROR was the highlight. Tonight is D.O.A. and a new 35mm print of THE STORY OF MOLLY X.


Posted: January 31st, 2008, 9:11 pm
by klondike
Ollie wrote:Kirk Douglas' jerk-nature was perfect in roles, but it made me hard to tolerate films where he was the only 'star' in it. SEVEN DAYS IN MAY is one of those "he may be a jerk, but he's Our Jerk" kinda roles. DETECTIVE STORY, too.

Ollie, my man I couldn't agree with you more 'bout Kirk-the-Jerk dominating the lead role in Detective Story; he's practically the Mayor of Jerk City in this one (and pretty fascinating, for all of that), and you could argue that his co-performers may not have shared his latitude on the A-list that year, but I'd hardly suggest that he was grand-standing the plot, or hogging the focus of the film - let's remember the pedigree of that cast, overall:

Kirk Douglas ... Det. James 'Jim' McLeod
Eleanor Parker ... Mary McLeod
William Bendix ... Det. Lou Brody
George Macready ... Karl Schneider
Joseph Wiseman ... Charley Gennini
Lee Grant ... Shoplifter
Frank Faylen ... Det. Gallagher
Bert Freed ... Det. Dakis

Every detective in this story had strung his guts on the tightrope of their largely thankless public service; this tight little script does a pretty good job of illuminating telling little bits of their tired, but vigilant, lives, and they're portrayed by a handy, capable trio of "spear carriers".

Posted: February 1st, 2008, 10:10 am
by Ollie
In reading tidbits from Kirk's autobiography, his reflections on his own jerk-status, the question comes to mind: how would a more polite Kirk have manufactured some of these characters? How would they have affected the films' status?

Would I like a soft cuddly Kirk any more?

In SEVEN DAYS IN MAY, TCM is playing the oft-viewed showdown "Judas" scene. Kirk doesn't lash out and fight, as a combative person might. Nor does he shrink. He knows who Judas is. He stands his ground against a powerful real personality and a powerful film personality.

Could Kirk The Marshmallow have manufactured that steady, "no change of expression" face by director's commandment alone? "OK, Kirk, NOW show no change of emotion..." And I don't even want to consider whether Marshmallow Kirk would have been considered for the role in the first place.

We end up with what we end up with. I like so many actors and they have a lot of bad films (Karloff, Lugosi). Disliking actors but liking their good films isn't THAT inconsistent, I suppose - as if my subjectivity was ever grounds for consistency!