THE OLD FIRM
As movie veterans Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas appear as partners in crime in anew film thatconsiders
the problems ofgrowing old. Douglas talks to Allan Hunter about a mature approach to maturingyears. ‘ traditional western for a conservative age — Gunfight at the ()K (‘orral At the tail end of Kennedy's (‘amelot came Seven Days in May. a taut conspiracy thriller about an attempted military takeoverofthe country. In 1976 they both participated in the hastily-torn- from-the- headlines melodramatic recreation. Victory at lintehbe. Now, as befits the preoccupations of two gentlemen in their seventies. they
nice to see those two guys together on filtn again.” So. on spec. they wrote the script of 'l‘ough (iuys.
In the film. Douglas and Lancaster play two superannuatcd crooks who have served a thirty-year sentence as America's last. unsuccessful. train robbers. Released into Reagan’s world. Lancaster faces the prospect ofgoing gently into the (iolden Sunset retirement home. whilst the marginally younger Douglas must
streets of the then all-pervasiveft'lm noir. Lancaster appeared as the ox-like Swede in The Killers and in the aptly-titled Brute Foree. Douglas was initially seen in a more eclectic assortment of roles but his early work included the archetypal. trench-coated Forties‘ thriller Out of the Past. Historian David Shipman claims that there are people who experience difficulty in telling them apart. encountering much the same
Just as it is possible to talk aboutkﬂd‘and ‘new’ money. so there have come to pass concepts of‘old‘ and ‘new’ Hollywood. By respect of their venerable veterans status. Burt Lancaster
and Kirk obstacle when it comes to butter and have reunited for Tough Guys. a suffer the indignity ofsoda-jerking Douglas should margarine. However. it is easy to lighthearted comedy-drama that still for unappreciative brats. 'l'heironly snuglv be 9 distinguish [hm]; Lancaster is the manages to comment on the solution is to resume a life ofcrime.
Douglas and Lancaster were both keen to film Tough Guys. Douglas's enthusiasm resting on the script's humour and its canny embodiment of their real—life personalities. "l'his‘ is the only movie we've made
problems ofgrowing old with grace in a youth-orientated society.
Tough (iuys was prompted by the youthful nostalgia of two scriptwriters who had seen Douglas and Lancaster present an award at the l985 ()scar show. ‘There were two young kids in their twenties. Jim Cruikshank and James ()rr. who had grown up with movies 1 had done and movies Burt had done.’ Kirk Douglas explained at a recent London press launch. ‘When they saw us up there on the stage they both thought. “Jecz. wouldn‘t it be
acrobatic. former circus performer. Douglas the inter-collegiate wrestling champion: Burt has the immaculate bookshelvesof pearly whites. Kirk claims the distinguishing dimple.
They first worked together in the 1947 thriller I Walk A lone and their infrequent partnership has survived their own mould. the epitome of the forty years. seven films. one play. strong-willed. self-made post-war personal appearances and numerous stars. rounds ofgolf. Every decade has
Both men arrived in Hollywood produced at least one collaboration during 1946. their star personalities that somehow seemed to reflect the emerging from the shadowy mean times. In the 1950s there was a
accommodated within the ‘old‘ Hollywood ofdream factories confecting escapism for a mass audience. By dint oftheir actions however they are as ‘nouvcau riche‘ as it is possible to be — stubborn. opinionated. individualistic performers who not only bucked against the system but recast it in Below '8“. Top; Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancasterinth81947 productionlWalk Alone. Bottom; Douglas and Lancaster teamed up in John Sturges'1957tilm. Gunfight At The OK Corral.
Below: Douglas and Lancastertogether again—Tough Guys
'l‘he list 17 -3()April5