Unless you have been living under a tadpole you will know that one of the last surviving Hollywood movie stars Kirk Douglas has just reached his 100th birthday and that the celebrations have been glorious.
Douglas seemed to specialise in anti-hero figures long before it became fashionable to do so. Ace in the Hole, the Bad and the Beautiful and the Detective showed that he was not afraid to explore people who were very damaged, but also very skilled at spreading huge swathes of that damage to others, through acts of cruelty, manipulation, cynicism and self-loathing. That usually meant that any character in his way was going to have a really, really, really bad time. It also meant that audiences never knew whether to love him or loathe him, but they all wanted to watch him.
He did play actual heroes from time to time-but unlike some of his competitors he could never find it in him to play them straight. This short homage to the great KD, is about his great sword and scandal epic Spartacus. Made fun of today because of its high levels of sentimentality, this film was not just about heaving chests in skimpy ancient togas who cried "I'm Spartacus". This was Douglas (with the considerable help of Stanley Kubrick and Douglas Trumbo) telling us at the peak of his creative powers where America, the UK, France and the rest of the West was at. Listen to the latest episode of Classic Hollywood MTC and learn about Spartacus the KD Way.
The music used in this episode is called "Memories" and can be found on Bensound.com.