Kirk Douglas: The Centennial Collection [5 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Ratings & Reviews

Overall Customer Rating:
Rating 5 out of 5 stars.
5.0
100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (2 out of 2)

Special Features

  • A am Spartacus: an interview with Kirk Douglas
  • Lonely are the Brave: a tribute
  • The music of Lonely are the Brave

Synopsis

Lonely Are the Brave
Although it never quite escapes the pitfalls of pretension, this film was Kirk Douglas's bid for the affections of the art house crowd, and it remains one of his best efforts. The star plays unreconstructed "rugged individual" Jack Burns, who rides throughout the modern west knocking down man-made fences. Visiting his equally rebellious friend Paul Bondi (Michael Kane), Burns deliberately gets himself thrown in jail to be nearer his pal. Frustrated that Bondi doesn't want to join Burns on the road, Burns breaks out of jail, thereby becoming a fugitive. His trail is dogged by Sheriff Johnson (Walter Matthau), a frustrated frontiersman who secretly admires the freewheeling Burns. Meanwhile, a truck driver (Carroll O'Connor) is ominously driving down the highway with a truckload of toilets. If you think there's supposed to be some symbolism in this seemingly peripheral character, you're absolutely right. Bill Raisch, a genuine amputee who played the one-armed man on TV's The Fugitive, is Douglas' surly opponent in the café brawl sequence. Filmed on location in New Mexico, Lonely are the Brave was adapted by Dalton Trumbo from Edward Abbey's novel Brave Cowboy. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The List of Adrian Messenger
Adrian Messenger (John Merivale) asks his friend, British colonel Anthony Gethryn (George C. Scott), to check on the whereabouts of the eleven men named on a written list. Not long afterward, the plane on which Messenger is travelling is deliberately blown up. The mystery killer slipped the bomb on the plane while disguised as a priest, and we soon learn that the killer adopts a different guise for each of his subsequent murders. As Gethryn tracks down the men on Messenger's list, he discovers that all had been POWs in the same Burmese stockade during World War II, and he deduces that the murderer, who is methodically decimating those on the list, had been a traitor and informer. Gethryn traces the killer to the British estate of The Marquis of Gleneyre (Clive Brook), where his visit coincides with the return of "prodigal" American relative George Brougham (Kirk Douglas). Gethryn is convinced that Brougham is the killer, and that he plans to murder the only heir who stands in the way of the family fortune, but he has no tangible proof. Filmed primarily in Ireland, The List of Adrian Messenger received good theatrical bookings by virtue of its gimmick: several of the bit characters are played by famous stars in heavy makeup, and each of these stars -- Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Curtis -- "unmasks" in the epilogue. In truth, only Douglas and Mitchum did any real acting under their mounds of collodion and crepe hair; the others showed up only to shoot their unmasking scenes (at a salary of $75,000 each!) and were "doubled" in the film itself. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The War Wagon
John Wayne and Kirk Douglas spend half of The War Wagon trying to knock one another off and the other half working shoulder to shoulder. Settling an old score with avaricious mine owner Bruce Cabot, Wayne plans to steal a $500,000 gold shipment from his enemy. Douglas, at first hired by Cabot to kill Wayne, goes along with the robbery scheme. Also in on the plan is Howard Keel, superbly cast as a world-weary, wisecracking Native American (it's the sort of part that nowadays would go to Graham Greene). The titular war wagon is the armor-plated, Gatling-gun fortified stagecoach wherein Cabot's gold is transported. Thus the stage is set for a slam-bang finale, and director Burt Kennedy isn't about to disappoint the viewers. Best bit: after Kirk and The Duke gun down Cabot's henchmen Bruce Dern and Chuck Roberson, Douglas quips "Mine hit the ground first"--whereupon Wayne replies "Mine was taller." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Lovely Way to Die
Schuyler (Kirk Douglas) is a hard-boiled detective who turns in his badge when he believes the criminals are being handled with kid gloves and too much respect. He is hired by prominent attorney Fredericks (Eli Wallach) as a bodyguard for his client Rena (Sylva Koscina), who is accused of murdering her husband. Her playboy boyfriend Fleming (Kenneth Haigh) is also under suspicion. Schuylur keeps one eye on his beautiful suspect while trying to uncover more information about the murder. Fredericks displays a disarming, folksy nature which belies his shrewdness. The detective soon comes to believe that Rena is being framed for the murder. Singer Jackie Wilson delivers the song "A Lovely Way To Die" during the opening credits of this murder mystery. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

For Love or Money
In this romantic comedy, Deke Gentry (Kirk Douglas) is a lawyer who gets an unusual assignment from Chloe Brasher (Thelma Ritter), a wealthy widow, owner of a successful hotel chain, and one of his most prominent clients. Chloe has three daughters, sensible Kate (Mitzi Gaynor), bohemian Jan (Leslie Parrish), and heath food fanatic Bonnie (Julie Newmar), and she wants Deke to find them husbands. Though Deke protests that matchmaking is outside his traditional area of expertise, Chloe is insistent, and he ends up taking the job. To be sure that he's going through with it, Chloe assigns her security chief Joe (William Bendix) to keep his eye on Deke. Eventually, Deke fixes up Bonnie with Harvey Wofford (Richard Sargent), a meek IRS agent, and pairs Jan with artist Sam Travis (William Windom), but Kate turns out to be the hardest Brasher sister to marry off, until he throws his own hat into the ring. Richard Sargent would later shorten his first name to Dick and find success on the popular television comedy Bewitched. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Man Without a Star
In this deceptively titled and paced Western, Kirk Douglas shines in the hyper-macho role of Dempsey Rae, a good-natured drifter with a mysterious past up from Texas, a top hand with a gun, a horse, or a herd, who can even play the banjo and sing. He rides into a Wyoming town in a freight car, in the company of much younger drifter Jeff Jimson (William Campbell), who knows even less about the West than he does about life. Dempsey gets Jeff out of a few scrapes with the law, and both get hired by the foreman (Jay C. Flippen) of the Triangle Ranch. With 8,000 head, the Triangle is already the largest spread in the territory, but the new owner from back east, Miss Reed Bowman (Jeanne Crain), arrives with plans to move in another 22,000 head onto the open range, threatening to squeeze out the smaller ranches completely. Meanwhile, the other ranchers plan on saving some of the grass for winter feed and fence it off with barbed wire. When Bowman discovers that she can't hold onto Dempsey as either a man or a foreman, she seduces Jeff -- who's too quick to become a man -- to run interference on him, and hires a crew of gunmen led by Steve Miles (Richard Boone) to tear down the wire. A range war is about to break out, and Dempsey, who wants no part of barbed wire and carries the scars to show why, plans on pulling out. But then Miles and his men overplay their hand, and Dempsey throws in with the smaller ranchers. The body count suddenly starts going against Miles, who digs in for a final fight, and now it's Jeff and Bowman who find themselves caught between two unstoppable forces that they've helped unleash. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Spartacus
Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) is a rebellious slave purchased by Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), owner of a school for gladiators. For the entertainment of corrupt Roman senator Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Batiatus' gladiators are to stage a fight to the death. On the night before the event, the enslaved trainees are "rewarded" with female companionship. Spartacus' companion for the evening is Varinia (Jean Simmons), a slave from Brittania. When Spartacus later learns that Varinia has been sold to Crassus, he leads 78 fellow gladiators in revolt. Word of the rebellion spreads like wildfire, and soon Spartacus' army numbers in the hundreds. Escaping to join his cause is Varinia, who has fallen in love with Spartacus, and another of Crassus' house slaves, the sensitive Antoninus (Tony Curtis). The revolt becomes the principal cog in the wheel of a political struggle between Crassus and a more temperate senator named Gracchus (Charles Laughton). Anthony Mann was the original director of Spartacus, eventually replaced by Stanley Kubrick, who'd previously guided Douglas through Paths of Glory. The film received 4 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Ustinov. A crucial scene between Olivier and Curtis, removed from the 1967 reissue because of its subtle homosexual implications, was restored in 1991, with a newly recorded soundtrack featuring Curtis as his younger self and Anthony Hopkins standing in for the deceased Olivier. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Last Sunset
Scripted by Dalton Trumbo and directed by Robert Aldrich, this off-beat, almost eclectic film could be hailed as a thinking person's western. It is the dark cat-and-mouse tale of a sherrif's hunt for a philosophy-spouting criminal in the midst of a great cattle drive. The outlaw killed the sherrif's brother-in-law. During his flight, the outlaw pauses long enough to drop by the ranch where his former lover lives with her husband and 16-year-old daughter. While there, the rancher hires him to lead a cattle drive to Texas. The sheriff soon catches up, but he decides to help the killer with the drive before bringing him in. Along the way, the two men gain a grudging respect for one another. Also the sheriff begins to fall in love with the rancher's wife, while the crook finds himself drawn to her lovely daughter. The rancher ends up killed during the trip and this allows the romances to bloom until the widow tells the outlaw an awful secret about the young woman he loves. Grecian-style tragedy ensues. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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