Sometimes the universe gives us unmotivated gifts. The 2011 Academy Awards ceremony was unanimously recognized as one of the most boring in history. The script disappointed, James Franco and Anne Hathaway were appointed as the hosts. However, the first did not yet fully understand how to present his inner eccentric to the general public, and the second had not yet played Catwoman and also tried to save face for some reason. However, there was one episode at the beginning of the ceremony that certainly secured her place in history. The 94-year-old Kirk Douglas came out to present the prize for Best Supporting Actress. The first thing he did was compliment Hathaway, asking him where the hell she was when he was still filming. Then he presented the prize to Melissa Leo for her role in "The Fighter", and leaving the stage extremely deftly grabbed the winner, let's say, just above the waist.
The era of #MeToo, thanks to which artists today will hardly be able to afford such liberties, has not yet arrived - and in this case, of course, fortunately. Leaning on a cane, impeccably dressed, Douglas, with all his always emphasized lovingness, looked, first of all, not even a dinosaur, but some kind of incredible, incredible walking time machine. There was not one iota in him of the old-timers' ambition, nor, on the contrary, the desire to pretend to be forever young and throw out some dashing knees that no one expects from a veteran. Rather, there was in him a firm conviction that the past was in the past, and the eternity from which he emerged under the spotlights was much more profitable than youth itself.
Today, when Douglas is gone, we are talking, of course, not only about the duty sobbing about the passing era. This is the case when the notorious era really went to rest - he was the last actor (namely a male actor - the same age as Douglas Olivia De Havilland, fortunately, is alive) of the so-called golden age of Hollywood. A footnote could be made here defining the period of this period and why it was actually called that way. But it seems that nothing of the kind is required in this case - the golden age is golden, and there can be no two opinions.
Now, however, it seems that Douglas's age was so long also due to the fact that he always kept himself a little apart, not too deliberately, but obviously different from his no less great colleagues. Maybe it's also that this son of Jewish immigrants came to big cinema after the army. In 1944, he was discharged from the Pacific Fleet due to dysentery, in the same year his first-born Michael was born - he had to earn money. For some time, Kirk was interrupted by roles in advertising, then, under the patronage of Lauren Bacall, he still ended up in a big movie. In Hollywood, however, he was in no hurry - or rather, he wanted to get there on his own terms.
Still from the film "Martha Ivers's Strange Love" (1946) © imdb
This firm determination to go his own way was probably the very difference. In Douglas and his heroes, at none of the stages was there either the cheerful decadence or the noble smudge characteristic of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, or Kirk's closest friend Bert Lancaster. He said that all his life he preferred to play "children of bitches", because pure virtue is not cinematic. And in this gallery there was a place for Odyssey ("The Adventures of Odyssey", 1954), Midge Kelly ("Champion", 1949) or Archie Long from the later "Tough Men" (1986).
Douglas's characters were not necessarily negative, on the contrary - it was almost impossible not to fall in love with them. But they were all people going from their obvious flaws to becoming better than they are at the moment. By the way, it is precisely in the fact that a person becomes better in the course of life that Douglas, who in his old age took up the study of the Torah, saw the main desire of the Lord. Douglas's collaboration with Stanley Kubrick looks the most important and logical here. First Kirk starred in one of the first Kubrick films "Paths of Glory" (1957), and then - in the legendary "Spartacus" (1960). And it is quite obvious that the director, taking on the story of the famous rebellious gladiator, was looking not for another handsome man, but for an artist in whom a certain inner movement of will is felt.
Still from the movie "Spartacus" (1960) © imdb
This property has helped Douglas more than once in life. How else to explain that in the first half of the nineties he not only managed to survive a plane crash and a stroke, after which he almost killed himself. Then, in 1996, having restored speech and motor functions, he announced his retirement from the cinema, but after three years he returned, having edited the script of the comedy "Diamonds" for himself.
I would like to say about another important role of Douglas - one that we, alas, will never see. In 1963, on Broadway, Kirk initiated a staging of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, published a year earlier. Douglas himself, who shrewdly bought the rights for the production, played the main role - Randall McMurphy. However, the play was not very successful, and Kirk began to look for an opportunity to film the book. The search took more than a decade - in 1975 Douglas gave the rights to his son Michael, who produced Milos Forman's film and received an Oscar for it. Father could not play McMurphy due to his age (no matter how ridiculous it sounds today), so they took Jack Nicholson. However, Kirk Douglas seemed to say that McMurphy's words would be perfect for the inscription on his gravestone: "Anyway, I tried.">