Classic screen actor Burt Lancaster (1913-1994) would have turned 100 this year, and to celebrate his centennial TCM is rolling out a month-long salute with back-to-back programming all night every Wednesday in November.
Included is Alexander Mackendrick's acid-tongued portrait of corrupt ambition "Sweet Smell of Success," starring Lancaster and Tony Curtis as an unscrupulous gossip columnist-and-press agent team. A must-see.
Also playing is Fred Zinnemann's Pearl Harbor drama "From Here to Eternity," which famously features Lancaster and an uncharacteristically bombshell Deborah Kerr kissing passionately on the sands of Hawaii; Jules Dassin's explosive prison-breakout thriller "Brute Force"; and the Robert Siodmak noir version of Ernest Hemingway's "The Killers."
Lancaster possessed that magical combo for a Hollywood star: acting skills, danger, rugged, sexy masculinity--he trained as a circus acrobat and found acting via the USO in the Army--and sensitive vulnerability. He could carry serious dramas, war movies and westerns, romances and comedies.
I got to meet Lancaster on the set of Sam Peckinpah's last film, 1983's "The Osterman Weekend," in which he had a cameo. He told me that Luchino Visconti's gorgeous 19th-century drama "Il Gattopardo" ("The Leopard") was one of his favorites. It's in the series. One title that didn't make the cut is Scottish director Bill Forsyth's whimsical masterpiece "Local Hero," in which Lancaster stars as an eccentric millionaire with a penchant for star-gazing.
Below, the full TCM Lancaster lineup, plus a selection of clips and vintage trailers from Lancaster's films: