Burt Lancaster

Burt Lancaster was born in New York 1913. With his blend of hardness and sentimentality he created an unique persona on the screen.

Burt Lancaster

Film noir

The Killers
Character: Ole "Swede" Anderson | Genre: Crime, Drama | Year: 1946 | Director: Robert Siodmak
His debute in The Killers gave him an instant breaktrough. In the movie Criss Cross three years later Burt and the director Robert Siodmak would once again unite for a fine movie in the same genre.

A Walk Alone
Character: Frankie Madison | Genre: Crime, Drama | Year: 1948 | Director: Byron Haskin
In A Walk Alone from Lancaster plays an exconvict who returns to his former crime partner to collect his share, but is welcomed back with a double agenda. Lancasters plays another hard, but sentimental character.

Western movies

Vera Cruz
Character: Joe Erin | Genre: Western | Year: 1954 | Director: Robert Aldrich
The western Vera Cruz lacks regarding realism, but gives satisfying entertainment. Lancaster plays Joe Erin, a skillful revolver man who starts a companionship with Ben Trane (Gary Cooper). The movie benefits from the contrast between Cooper’s wise and noble character and Lancaster’s unreliable and vicious one.

Character: Massai | Genre: Western | Year: 1954 | Director: Robert Aldrich
Lancaster did another western with director Robert Aldrich the same year as Vera Cruz. In Apache does he play the Apache Indian (!) Massai. Massai is a historical person which the movie is loosely based on. Apache mainly focusses on his hard fights against the white people that have enslaved the Apaches and present him as the last Apache warrior.

Bruce Willis in Die Hard

Hepburn and Lancaster on the horseback in The Unforgiven.

The Unforgiven
Character: Ben Zachary | Genre: Western | Year: 1960 | Director: John Huston
Once again, Lancaster, uses his enormous charisma to create vital life in a movie. This time he acts alongside another strong actor, Audrey Hepburn. They are half siblings, and the strong roots of friendships are also one of the main themes in this movie. It is also a somewhat controversial movie in the way a semi-incestual relationship takes form between Ben and Rachel (Hepburn).

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Character: Wyatt Earp | Genre: Western | Year: 1957 | Director: John Sturges
Another western to mention is Gunfight at the O.K. Corral with Lancaster as legendary the sheriff Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as his friend Doc Holliday.

Other movies

The Rainmaker
Character: Bill Starbuck | Genre: Drama | Year: 1956 | Director: Joseph Anthony
The Rainmaker lets Lancaster show much of his repertoire in his portrait of the eccentric Starbuck, who travels from village to village in the dry periods and promise rain against payment. Starbuck is of course a conman, but also an eccentric dreamer who wants to create miracles. Some of these personalities would be seen in Lancaster’s character in The Swimmer (1968). The Rainmaker shows sometimes a sublime mix of comedy and melodrama. But perhaps a big part of the audience of today will have problem to relate to its narrative style. 

Separate Tables
Character: John Malcolmp | Genre: Drama | Year: 1958 | Director: Delbert Mann
In Separate Tables Burt Lancaster plays the character John, who makes a typical Lancaster entry as a tornado from the wilderness into the calm indoor environment there people live their day to day lives. But this is new sides to Lancasters persona this time with melancholy and desillsusion. When his old wife Ann (Rita Hayworth) turns up, he became upset and we get familiar with his background. Lancaster and Hayworth are only one center among others at Separate Tables that tells many great stories between people that staying in a hotel. The acting performances are great and maybe are Lancaster overshadowed by Wendy Hiller and David Niven.

Judgment at Nuremberg
Character: Ernst Janning | Genre: Drama | Year: 1961 | Director: Stanley Kramer
Lancaster plays the German jurist Ernst Janning, who is one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials. One of the most crucial themes is the question about the guilt of the people in German beyond the directly responsible leaders. Sometimes it tends to become over-dramatize, but Judgment at Nuremberg raises also many ethical philosophic interesting questions. Besides Lancaster the cast includes stars as Spencer Tracy, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift.