Kirk Douglas Movies

Kirk Douglas in 1960's Spartacus.

Kirk Douglas in 1960’s Spartacus.

Want to know the best Kirk Douglas movies?  How about the worst Kirk Douglas movies?  Curious about Kirk Douglas box office grosses or which Kirk Douglas movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which Kirk Douglas movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences and which got the worst reviews? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

When trying to figure which Ultimate Movie Rankings career movie page to do next, I was getting numerous suggestions for Kirk Douglas (1916-) and his son, Michael Douglas. Since I could not figure out which one to do first, I decided to write and publish them at the same time. You can check out the Michael Douglas page at this link Michael Douglas Movies.  Since publishing the two pages on the same day I have been watching to see which page was the most popular.  And the results?  Kirk’s page has been viewed 28,077 times while Michael’s page has been viewed 12,654 times.  09/01/2016.

Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York on December 9th 1916. Kirk Douglas has been making movies for the last 65 years….from 1946’s The Strange Love of Martha Ivers to 2006’s Illusions. Along the way, Douglas has earned three Oscar® nominations, as well as winning an Honorary Oscar® in 1996 for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.

His IMDb page shows 92 acting credits from 1946-2008. This page will rank 71 Kirk Douglas movies from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information. Television shows, shorts, cameos and movies that were not released in theaters were not included in the rankings.

Kirk Douglas in 1957's Paths of Glory

Kirk Douglas in 1957’s Paths of Glory

Kirk Douglas Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort Kirk Douglas movies by co-stars of his movies.
  • Sort Kirk Douglas movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Kirk Douglas movies by yearly domestic box office rank
  • Sort Kirk Douglas movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations each Kirk Douglas movie received.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® wins each Kirk Douglas movie won.
  • Sort Kirk Douglas movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
  • Use the search and sort button to make this page very interactive….for example if you want to see all the Burt Lancaster/Douglas movies….just type in “Burt Lancaster” in the search box and up they pop.

Stats and Possibly Interesting Things From The Above Kirk Douglas Table

  1. Fifteen Kirk Douglas movies crossed the magical $100 million domestic gross mark.  That is a percentage of 21.11% of his movies listed. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) was his biggest box office ht when looking at adjusted domestic box office gross.
  2. An average Kirk Douglas movie grosses $73.30 million in adjusted box office gross.
  3. Using’s 60% fresh meter.  41 of Kirk Douglas’s movies are rated as good movies…or 57.77% of his movies. Paths of Glory (1957) is his highest rated movie while Once Is Not Enough (1975) was his lowest rated movie.
  4. Eighteen Kirk Douglas movies received at least one Oscar® nomination in any category…..or 25.32% of his movies.
  5. Six Kirk Douglas movies won at least one Oscar® in any category…..or 8.45% of his movies.
  6. An average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score is 40.00.  32 Kirk Douglas movies scored higher than that average….or 45.07% of his movies. Spartacus (1960) got the the highest UMR Score while Diamonds (1999) got the lowest UMR Score.
Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh in 1956's Lust for Life

Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh in 1956’s Lust for Life

Ten Possibly Interesting Facts About Kirk Douglas

1. When Kirk Douglas appeared in It Runs In The Family, it featured three generations of his family…..his son Michael…..his grandson Cameron.

2. One of his biggest regrets, was not finding the finances to film the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, he would have played the Jack Nicolson part. He eventually gave the book rights to his son Michael.

3. Was ranked 17th as the greatest movie star according to the AFI(American Film Insitiute) 1998 poll of greatest movie stars.

4. In 1991, he survived a helicopter crash in which two people died.

5. Douglas blogs regularly on his Myspace account. At 94, he is the oldest celebrity blogger.

6. Douglas directed two movies ….1973’s Scalawag and 1975’s Posse.

7. He played an important role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist by making sure that writer Dalton Trumbo’s name was mentioned in the opening and ending credits of the film for the screenplay he did for the Douglas blockbuster Spartacus.

8. Douglas made 7 movies with his friend Burt Lancaster….from 1948’s I Walk Alone to 1986’s Tough Guys.

9. Kirk Douglas wanted to play Ben-Hur, but lost out to Charlon Heston. Douglas did pass on the following roles….Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, First Blood, Seconds, Cat Ballou and The Graduate.

10. Check out Kirk Douglas’ career compared to current and classic actors.  Most 100 Million Dollar Movies of All-Time.

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140 thoughts on “Kirk Douglas Movies

  1. 1 MORNING PHIL I am afraid I’ve never been able to support the concept that something is a movie star’s own “business” when that something has been deliberately foisted on the public by the star(s) or their agents to create a favourable impression and then turns out to have been a deliberate falsehood.

    2 The public has a right to feel aggrieved if it has been taken in by the deception and I feel that to suggest otherwise is not just condescending but smacks of the kind of hypocrisy indulged in by public figures and celebrities who feverishly court publicity and then carp about invasion of their privacy when the public’s attention is drawn to something unfavourable about the same people. I think that the time honoured cliché is “having your cake and eating it” which then dictionary construes as wanting to “have it both ways”.

    1. Bob, they might not have been the most chummy of friends but I refuse to believe they disliked each other. Why would they team up together in several films? Two powerful filmmakers can do whatever they like, it’s not like they’re forced into starring together in movies. Kirk’s not an idiot if he sensed that Burt didn’t like him he would never work with him again. Don’t believe the rumors. I think they liked each other, call it a professional friendship if you like.

      1. HI STEVE
        1 Certainly those are the more comforting thoughts but the truth is we’ll never know.

        2 If the report of Burt’s interview is correct then he had never favoured the “buddy buddy” publicity to begin with and had obviously become totally pissed of with it or one would think that he would not have complained in public about it. And he was in good health when he made that statement so it may be that when his health failed he either (a) didn’t want Kirk to see him in his reduced state or (b) he had gotten so fed up with the whole Lancaster/Douglas false affinity thing that in his new lowly condition he no longer could be bothered with Kirk. Certainly Kirk felt slighted in the matter

        3 I have no proof of either of those alternatives of course but as Robert Webber Juror No 12 said in Hank’s 12 Angry Men “In the sales firm where I come from when we have an idea we just run it up the flagpole to see who salutes it.”

    2. Bob,
      Good points, if the idea was indeed to use their alleged friendship for promotional purposes (which you suggest Burt did not favour), then I guess it’s fair game to examine more closely how genuine this friendship really was! I didn’t mean to be dismissive, I was just focused on other issues. While I think the friendship was indeed exaggerated and somewhat one-sided, I agree with Steve that there must have been some connection for them to co-star in 5 feature films (I leave out the List of Adrian Messenger where Lancaster just briefly appeared as a woman…or so the credits say), 1 TV movie, the Oscar routine etc..In 1981, they also co-starred in a play, The Boys of Autumn, portraying the characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn 50 years later. A biography of Lancaster I have says that upon Burt’s death, on behalf of the Screen Actors Guild, Kirk presented to him the Annual Achievement Award in recognition of career and humanitarian achievements. Kirk is also quoted as having said (not sure where): “It’s the passing of a giant. But Burt will never die. We’ll always be able to see him winging from a yardarm in The Crimson Pirate….and shooting with me in Gunfight at the OK Corral”. This does not prove any-thing, but it’s a touching thought.

  2. Hi Cogerson,
    Having commented on the Burt Lancaster movie page, I thought it only fair to comment as well on the page of his contemporary rival, friend, and co-star of several films. Among your pages on legend battles, you may want to consider a Lancaster vs Douglas page. The two are a bit like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, with fans on each side claiming the other one is greater. On the basis of box office success and critically acclaimed films, Lancaster would win the battle, yet overall, I think Douglas has earned an equally honored place in American films history, perhaps because of a couple of reasons: Firstly, while Lancaster has some great roles and outstanding performances to his credit, he does not have a role quite as famous and enduring as Spartacus. Secondly, Douglas has remained more in the public eye over the past 25 years, simply by virtue of his incredible longevity – and maybe because his son has also become a successful movie star. This may explain why AFI ranked Douglas a bit higher than Lancaster (#17 vs #19) in its list of 25 male screen legends, though many would argue Lancaster should have the higher spot.

    A couple of comments on this page. Two of Douglas’s very best films and roles – Paths of Glory and Ace in the Hole – are only 15th and 16th based on the UMR because they did not do well at the box office at the time of release. However, if one could find a way of measuring long-term popularity (going back to one of my previous posts), these films would do much better, as would Lonely are the Brave, another important film for Douglas (though not quite as big as the other two). In an accompanying documentary to the DVD of Lonely Are the Brave, Douglas seems to suggest it may be his favorite among his films. He certainly gives a powerful and touching performance in it, though he feels his horse stole the show.

    Surprising to see how badly There Was a Crooked Man flopped in the US (though I think it did better internationally?). It’s still not a very well-known film, but it’s a smart and entertaining western comedy and Douglas is delightful as a complete rascal – in French, where I first saw it in the theatre a long time ago, the film is appropriately suitably called: Le Reptile.

    1. 1 PHIL Crawford v Davis is the correct comparison to make although on this site certain ‘comedians’ have diluted and downgraded the comparison to Crawford v Loy. Anyway you make some interesting observations on Lancaster/Douglas and here are a few comments of my own some of which have already been aired on this site.
      (1) I have always been surprised that AFI ranked Kirk above Burt as I consider the pair equal in status and if I had been forced to split them it would have been marginally in Burt’s favour for reasons you mention.
      (2) A Douglas biographer claimed that in fact Kirk idolized Burt and that biographer went as far as to say “Kirk’s great problem was that all of his movie life he wanted to be Burt Lancaster.”
      (3) In an interview Burt claimed that Kirk and he had never been close friends off set and that their supposed affinity had been invented by Kirk for publicity purposes and that he, Burt, had had little enthusiasm for it but simply went along with the myth out of courtesy.
      (4) In a TV interview that I watched after Burt’s death Kirk and the interviewer discussed the fact that Lancaster had been housebound with illness in the final years of his life and Kirk ‘bitched’ to the interviewer that despite many attempts he had not been allowed into the house to visit Burt. Kirk seemed to blame Burt’s wife Susan for keeping apart him and Burt but in the light of Burt’s reported comments at (3) above I often wondered if it was in fact BURT who had exercised the veto.
      (5) If you turn to Steve Lensman’s 23.3.17 post at 12.56pm on this site you will see that Steve quotes Virginia Mayo as saying that she found Burt more likeable than Kirk.
      2 However I really don’t care whether any or all of that negative personal stuff is true or not for on screen both those guys were great actors who entertained me for half a century. Each was an ‘original’ and how do you definitively rank people who are unique – who is to say Grant was greater than Wayne or vice versa? To both Burt and Kirk there is total relevance in the old cliché “We shall never see his like again.”
      PS: Hope claimed that the off-screen friendship between him and Bing had also been greatly exaggerated and Bing’s widow Kathy seemed to confirm that in a TV interview by saying that Crosby kept largely to himself and that the only other celeb Bing ever had time for offset was Louis Armstrong.

      1. Good post Bob. I’m a big fan of both actors but if I had to choose between the two I might have to pick Kirk Douglas, not just because of Spartacus (one of my favorite movies) but I find him more sympathetic, even when he’s playing bad. And I think Kirk’s the better actor though Burt has a Best Actor Oscar and Kirk hasn’t.

        Burt and Kirk at the Oscars –

        1. STEVE:
          1 Thanks for the link.

          2 I would have given Burt the marginal edge because he ticks all the traditional boxes that illustrate star status –

          (1) His movies considerably out-grossed Kirk’s according to WH’s stats:
          Lancaster Total Gross $6.7 billion – Average Gross $100 million
          Douglas Total Gross $5.2 billion – Average Gross $73.3 million

          (2) As you say Burt was an Oscar winner and Kirk wasn’t though he did get 3 nominations and the Myrna Loy Award for Lucky Losers- an Honorary Oscar.

          (3) Burt got into the Quigley Top 10 and I don’t think Kirk ever did?

          (4) In all of their movies together Burt was billed first (except for the alphabetically billed ensemble movie The List of Adrian Messenger).

          Apparently though such factors did not count for over-much with AFI with for example the Duke out-grossing everybody else in both AFI lists but not even getting into the Institute’s Top 10 males.

          2. However both Kirk and Burt impressed me not only as actors and entertainers but as humanitarians with Kirk making a stand to reinstate Dalton Trumbo and Burt crusading for Civil Rights. [Reportedly Clark Gable for all his gruff persona campaigned for desegregated toilets at Metro Goldwyn Mayer.]

          1. Hi Bob, Steve,
            First, thanks for the link. I had heard of the Oscar routine but never seen it. It`s great!
            I’m aware there’s some doubt on whether the friendship was real or not, but that’s really their business. As actors, apart from the fact that they often appeared together, they seemed to have a similar level of energy, emotional intensity and physical prowess. I can’t think of any other two major stars who distinguished themselves in both dramatic and action roles to the extent that Douglas and Lancaster did. Overall, I think Lancaster had a slight edge not only because of what Bob mentions, but also because he has more classic films to his credit, achieved more popularity during their heyday, and has given some of the best dramatic performances of all times (in Sweet Smell of Success, Elmer Gantry, The Leopard and Atlantic City). Only Douglas’ performances in Lust for Life and Ace in the Hole are in that category in my view. Having said this, comparing them makes for an interesting conversation but as I said, it’s like comparing Davis and Crawford – both great!

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