The Film Society of Lincoln Center Celebrates Burt Lancaster With a Week-Long Series of Films


The Film Society of Lincoln Center is celebrating what would be legendary actor Burt Lancaster’s 100th birthday with a week-long run of films featuring some of his most iconic roles. The series, called Man of Steel: Burt Lancaster at 100, runs from May 17th to the 23rd and includes three films in the Criterion Collection.

First up is Robert Siodmak’s The Killers. Based in part on the Ernest Hemingway short story, the film adaptation features Lancaster in his first onscreen role as “The Swede,” and was the only film version of his work that Hemingway admired. It screens on May17th at 7pm and May 22nd at 9pm.

Next is Alexander MacKendrick’s cracking look into the vicious world of newspaper gossip, Sweet Smell of Success. The 1957 film stars Lancaster as the immoral columnist J.J. Hunsecker and Tony Curtis as his timid protégé. On top of that, the brilliantly syncopated screenplay by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets is perhaps topped only by DP James Wong Howe’s crisp eye on 1950’s New York.  It screens on May 17th at 5pm and May 19th at 4pm.

Lastly is Luchino Visconti’s grand epic, The Leopard, starring Lancaster as a Sicilian prince in the midst of waning aristocratic power in 19th century Italy. Co-starring Alain Delon and Claudia Cadinale, the film won the 1963 Palme d’Or at Cannes. It is not known at this time whether the print that will be screened is from the Criterion restoration supervised by director of photography Guiseppe Rotunno or the Film Foundation’s restoration from the Cineteca di Bologna – we’ll keep you updated once we know for sure. It screens on May 18th at 5pm and May 21st at 3pm.

You can find a list of all the other screenings (including the rarely seen 1968 film The Swimmer, based on the John Cheever short story, as well as a handful of films directed by Kiss Me Deadly director Robert Aldrich) on the Film Society’s website here. Tickets go on sale later this month on April 25th.

From the press release:

Robert Aldrich, USA, 1954; 91m
During Geronimo’s surrender to the U.S. Cavalry, a lone Apache warrior (Lancaster) defiantly interrupts the ceremony of his white conquerors. Captured and shipped off to the Florida Everglades, he escapes and begins an epic journey back to his desert Southwest home. One of Robert Aldrich’s best and leanest anti-establishment narratives, and one of Lancaster’s most energetic and athletic performances. With Jean Peters as his lover and fellow fugitive, John McIntire as the grudgingly sympathetic frontier scout who pursues them, and Charles Bronson (then Buchinsky) as an old Apache rival who has donned Cavalry Blue.
Saturday, May 18 – 1pm
Monday, May 20 – 4:30pm

Louis Malle, Canada/France/USA, 1980; 104m
Lancaster, in his last great performance and one of the best of his career, plays Lou, an aging mob foot soldier in the once bustling and now sleepy gambling mecca, who can’t help peering across the way at his beautiful neighbor (Susan Sarandon) when she bathes at her sink. When Sally’s weaselly ex-husband puts her in jeopardy, Lou comes out of retirement and becomes the hard guy he always wanted to be. Beautifully directed by Louis Malle and just as beautifully written by playwright John Guare.
Sunday, May 19 – 6pm
Thursday, May 23 – 9pm

Robert Siodmak, USA, 1947; 94m
A companion film to The Killers, perhaps even more visually exciting (shot by the great DP Franz Planer), also directed by German émigré Siodmak, and told through flashbacks. Lancaster plays a truck driver whose passion for his ex-wife (Yvonne De Carlo) drives him to the wrong side of the law. Lancaster is excellent, and Dan Duryea steals the show as his tormentor and rival—his final expression, the last image in the film, is one of the signature moments of film noir.
Friday, May 17 – 9:15pm
Wednesday, May 22 – 4:15pm

Richard Brooks, USA, 1960; 146m
An Oscar-winning performance from Lancaster as the eponymous bible-thumping con artist in Richard Brooks’ visually ravishing (it was shot by the great John Alton) and dynamic adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel. Lancaster’s fiery evangelist burns with the sheer physical joy of his own bigger-than-life charisma, his own gift for taking people in – he seems to almost believe his own act. With Jean Simmons as the genuine article, a real believer, and Shirley Jones in the film’s other Oscar-winning performance as a minister’s daughter gone bad.
Thursday, May 23 – 6:15pm

Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1950; 88m
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. Lancaster is Dardo, an archer in 12th century Lombardy whose wife and son are kidnapped by the evil Hessian Count Ulrich (Frank Allenby). With his deaf mute friend Piccolo (Nick Cravat, one of Lancaster’s best friends in real life), he fights, leaps, and tumbles his way into Ulrich’s stronghold. A lighthearted romp with an interestingly muted overtone courtesy of Tourneur, shot in beautiful Technicolor. With Virginia Mayo and Norman Lloyd, still going strong at 98.
Monday, May 20 – 2:30pm & 6:30pm

Fred Zinnemann, USA, 1953; 118m
Adapted from James Jones’ classic novel of Army life, From Here to Eternity racked up eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and two Best Supporting Actors (Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed.) Schofield Army Barracks, Honolulu, 1941. Burt Lancaster’s NCO falls for his commanding officer’s wife Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift’s rebellious Private falls for “hostess” Donna Reed and Sinatra’s skinny Italian wisecracker is targeted by Ernest Borgnine’s sadistic sergeant. All the emotional turmoil is put into sudden, sharp perspective when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. One of the signature films of its era.
Friday, May 17 – 2:30pm
Sunday, May 19 – 8:15pm

Robert Siodmak, USA, 1946; 105m
The stellar debut of an American movie icon. Ernest Hemingway, author of the classic short story so chillingly recreated in the opening reel of Robert Siodmak’s noir classic, always cited The Killers as the best movie ever made from his work. Burt Lancaster’s first movie role, as “the Swede,” begins only moments before his death. He knows it’s coming and he doesn’t try to run. What he did and why it used him up is told in jagged flashbacks as an insurance investigator (Edmond O’Brien) looks into the Swede’s haunted past. Ava Gardner shines darkly as quintessential femme fatale Kitty Collins.
Friday, May 17 – 7pm
Wednesday, May 22 – 9pm

Luchino Visconti, France/Italy, 1963; 205m
“So I opened the drawers and saw that they were filled with beautiful, handmade things. And I said to Visconti, ‘But we won’t be able to see them.’ And he told me, It doesn’t matter. They are your things. You know they are there.’” 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: Lancaster carries himself as if the world were his possession. His prince is the center of gravity for the sumptuous world of Sicilian aristocracy, fading from the historical horizon. Visconti’s masterpiece also stars Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale, future spaghetti western star Terence Hill and a very young Pierre Clémenti.
Saturday, May 18 – 5pm
Tuesday, May 21 – 3pm

Alexander MacKendrick, USA, 1957; 96m
“Match me, Sidney.” Lancaster held his powerful frame in perfect check when he transformed himself for this now-classic film into J.J. Hunsecker, the sexless, iron-willed gossip columnist who rules the world from his table at 21. As Lancaster speaks Ernest Lehman’s and Clifford Odets’ syncopated dialogue, you may have the impression that every word is etched in acid. With Tony Curtis, revving himself up past the speed of light, as gutless columnist Sidney Falco, Susan Harrison as Hunsecker’s lost little sister and Martin Milner as her hapless jazz musician boyfriend. Featuring one of Elmer Bernstein’s very best jazz scores and the electric camera eye of cinematographer James Wong Howe.
Friday, May 17 – 5:00pm
Sunday, May 19: 4:00pm

Frank Perry, USA, 1968; 94m
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. Every stop brings back another memory. Lancaster’s powerful physique and piercing eyes give poetic life to the concepts of faded glory and shattered dreams in Frank and Eleanor Perry’s adaptation of the John Cheever story: there’s a whole biography woven into this performance. With a terrific cast that includes Janice Rule and Kim Hunter.
Sunday, May 19 – 2:00pm
Tuesday, May 21 – 9:00pm
Thursday, May 23 – 4:15pm

Robert Aldrich, USA, 1977; 146m
“I wondered what would happen if you had an Ellsberg mentality, if you had some command officer who came out of Vietnam and who was soured not by war protesters but by the misuse of the military,” wondered director Robert Aldrich. His curiosity led to this taut 1977 thriller where the suspense never stops ratcheting up. 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. The stellar cast also features Richard Widmark, Melvyn Douglas, Roscoe Lee Browne and Joseph Cotten.
Saturday, May 18 – 8:30pm
Thursday, May 23 – 1:15pm

Robert Aldrich, USA, 1972; 103m
Two decades after Apache, Lancaster and Robert Aldrich reunited for a darker and more complex meditation on the Indian wars. Lancaster is an aging scout tracking a renegade Apache (Joaquin Martinez), a vicious killer carrying out horrific degradations against white settlers. Alan Sharp’s brilliant and tough-minded screenplay disdains the kneejerk sentimentality of its era by making Ulzana a truly terrifying figure and finding historical justice in his doomed, murderous campaign. A great and brave Western, a high point for both Lancaster and Aldrich.
Monday, May 20 – 8:30pm
Wednesday, May 22 – 2:00pm

Robert Aldrich, USA, 1954; 94m
The second of the four films that Burt Lancaster and Robert Aldrich made together is the story of two mercenaries (Lancaster and Gary Cooper) in Mexico after the American Civil War who are hired by Emperor Maximillian (George Macready) to safely bring a countess (Denise Darcel) to Vera Cruz. When they discover that millions of dollars in gold are hidden in the countess’ stagecoach, complications ensue. This was one of Aldrich’s personal favorites, and it features a solid supporting cast including Jack Elam, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson.
Saturday, May 18 – 3:00pm
Tuesday, May 21 – 1:00pm

Public Screening Schedule

Screening Venue:
The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65 Street, between Broadway & Amsterdam

Friday, May 17
7:00PM THE KILLERS (105min)
9:15PM CRISS-CROSS (94min)

Saturday, May 18
1:00PM APACHE (91min)
3:00PM VERA CRUZ (94min)
5:00PM THE LEOPARD (205min)

Sunday, May 19
2:00PM THE SWIMMER (94min)
6:00PM ATLANTIC CITY (104min)

Monday, May 20
4:30PM APACHE (91min)
8:30PM ULZANA’S RAID (103min)

Tuesday, May 21
1:00PM VERA CRUZ (94min)
3:00PM THE LEOPARD (205min)
9:00PM THE SWIMMER (94min)

Wednesday, May 22
2:00PM ULZANA’S RAID (103min)
4:15PM CRISS-CROSS (94min)
9:00PM THE KILLERS (105min)

Thursday, May 23
4:15PM THE SWIMMER (94min)
6:15PM ELMER GANTRY (146min)
9:00PM ATLANTIC CITY (104min)

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