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Sweet Smell of Success: Burt Lancaster Is TCM's Star of November

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 31, 2013 at 2:23PM

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.
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Burt Lancaster, right, and Tony Curtis in "Sweet Smell of Success"
Burt Lancaster, right, and Tony Curtis in "Sweet Smell of Success"

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:

This article is related to: News, News, Classics, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Burt Lancaster, TCM


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.