Man of Steel: Burt Lancaster at 100

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Norman Mailer once said that he had never looked into eyes as chilling as Burt Lancaster’s. Sam Shepard spent days as a boy trying to copy his smile. Accomplished athelete, card-carrying member of the ACLU and creative producer, Burt Lancaster was one of the greatest actors in the history of American cinema. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, a selection of his best films.

In This Series

Apache

Apache

Robert Aldrich | 1954 | 91 mins

A lone Apache warrior (Lancaster) must complete an epic journey from Florida to his Southwest home in one of Robert Aldrich’s best anti-establishment narratives. With Jean Peters, John McIntire, and Charles Bronson.

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Atlantic City

Atlantic City

Louis Malle | 1980 | 104 mins

Lancaster, in his last great performance, plays an aging mob foot soldier in the once bustling gambling mecca who can’t help peering across the way at his beautiful neighbor (Susan Sarandon) when she bathes at her sink.

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Criss-Cross

Criss-Cross

Robert Siodmak | 1947 | 94 mins

A companion film to The Killers shot by the great DP Franz Planer, here Lancaster plays a truck driver whose passion for his ex-wife (Yvonne De Carlo) drives him to the wrong side of the law. Dan Duryea steals the show as his tormentor and rival.

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Elmer Gantry

Elmer Gantry

Richard Brooks | 1960 | 146 mins

An Oscar-winning performance from Lancaster as a bible-thumping con artist in Richard Brooks’ visually ravishing and dynamic adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel. With Jean Simmons and another Oscar-winning performance by Shirley Jones.

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The Flame and the Arrow

The Flame and the Arrow

Jacques Tourneur | 1950 | 88 mins

Lancaster’s training as an acrobat and his graceful physicality are in full flower in this lovely, muted swashbuckler written by Waldo Salt and directed by Jacques Tourneur. With Frank Allenby, Nick Cravat, Virginia May and Norman Lloyd, still going strong at 98.

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From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

Fred Zinnemann | 1953 | 118 mins

Adapted from James Jones’ classic novel of Army life, this Oscar Best Picture winner stars Lancaster as an NCO who falls for his commanding officer’s wife (Deborah Kerr). With Montgomery Clift and Oscar-winning performances by Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra.

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The Killers

The Killers

Robert Siodmak | 1946 | 105 mins

The stellar debut of an American movie icon! Ernest Hemingway cited Robert Siodmak’s noir classic as the best movie ever made from his work. Ava Gardner shines darkly as quintessential femme fatale Kitty Collins.

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The Leopard

The Leopard

Luchino Visconti | 1963 | 187 mins

Italian master Luchino Visconti was severely criticized for casting Lancaster as a Sicilian prince in this remarkable adaptation of Count Giuseppe di Lampedeusa’s novel, but 50 years later it looks like a casting coup.

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Sweet Smell of Success

Sweet Smell of Success

Alexander MacKendrick | 1957 | 96 mins

Lancaster biographist Kate Buford in person!

Lancaster held his powerful frame in perfect check when he transformed himself into J.J. Hunsecker, the sexless, iron-willed gossip columnist who rules the world from his table at 21. With Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, and Martin Milner.

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The Swimmer

The Swimmer

Frank Perry | 1968 | 94 mins

Neddy Merrill (Lancaster) decides to "swim" his way home through the all the pools in the backyards of high WASP country in the Connecticut valley and every stop brings back another memory. With Janice Rule and Kim Hunter.

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Twilight’s Last Gleaming

Twilight’s Last Gleaming

Robert Aldrich | 1977 | 146 mins

Lancaster plays a renegade Air Force general who takes over a nuclear missile silo in an attempt to force the U.S. President (Charles Durning) to reveal the true motivation behind the Vietnam War.

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Ulzana’s Raid

Ulzana’s Raid

Robert Aldrich | 1972 | 103 mins

Lancaster is an aging scout tracking a renegade Apache (Joaquin Martinez), a vicious killer carrying out horrific depradations against white settlers, in this great and brave Western that reunited Lancaster and Aldrich two decades after Apache.

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Vera Cruz

Vera Cruz

Robert Aldrich | 1954 | 94 mins

Two mercenaries (Lancaster and Gary Cooper) in Mexico after the American Civil War are hired by Emperor Maximillian (George Macready) to safely bring a countess (Denise Darcel) to Vera Cruz. With Jack Elam, Ernest Bornin and Charles Bronson.

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