We continue our survey of the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1960s.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1950s, click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1940s, click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1930s click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1920s click here.
2. Spartacus, 1960
He wanted Hur.
More than anything, Kirk Douglas yearned to play Ben Hur. But director William Wyler had another actor in mind for Hollywood’s most coveted role. Adding insult to injury, Wyler offered Douglas the mustache-twirling role of Hur’s enemy, the villainous Messala. His pride wounded, Kirk Douglas refused to play a supporting role — not even to Charlton Heston, Hollywood’s supernova star.
Years later, Douglas confessed: “That was what spurred me to do it [Spartacus], in a childish way—the ‘I’ll-show-them’ sort of thing.”
Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovich Demsky, an impoverished Jewish kid who remained angry and resentful of authority his entire career.
“Do you remember any direction that Howard Hawks gave you?”
“Oh yes, he told me to imagine daggers to my knees.”
“I should feel weak with passion, romance.”