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The top five Burt Lancaster movies

This article will provide a list of the top five Burt Lancaster movies. He is the tough guy leading man who had nearly a forty year career in Hollywood as an actor, director and producer.

Early career

Although, best known for his tough guy movie roles, Burt Lancaster actually started his career as an acrobat, working as one half of a circus duo in Kay Brother’s circus. An injury brought an end to his acrobatic career, but the circus’ loss, was the film world's gain. Lancaster, a tall muscular man with tremendous athletic ability, was quickly appreciated as a leading man.

Iconic films

One of the best known Burt Lancaster films, is “From Here to Eternity,” where Lancaster has an affair with the wife of his commanding officer (Deborah Kerr) in Fred Zinnemann’s Oscar winning World War II romantic drama. The film was named in the top 100 romantic films of all time by the American Film Institute. Moreover, that famous scene of Lancaster and Kerr kissing on the beach as the waves crash around their bodies, helped to secure the film its iconic status. In another iconic film, Lancaster took on the role of Wyatt Earp in “Gunfight at the OK Corral.” Although, not historically accurate (the actual gunfight lasted 30 seconds, compared to the five minute screen version), this fictionalised tale of the most famous gunfight in American history, is rightly regarded as a classic of the western genre.

Academy wins

Lancaster won the Academy Award in 1960 for his performance in “Elmer Gantry,” where he plays a drunken, dishonest street preacher who talks his way into a job with Jean Simmons’ travelling ministry. Thanks to Gantry’s fiery sermons, the ministry rises to prominence, but all this is threatened with the appearance of Shirley Jones, as former minister’s daughter turned prostitute with a connection to Gantry. It took many years to bring this adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ contentious 1926 novel and director Richard Brooks felt obliged to tone down some of the more sacrilegious parts of the book. Two years later, Lancaster won a BAFTA for his performance in “Birdman of Alcatraz,” where he plays Robert Stroud, an inmate sentenced to life in Alcatraz prison who keeps pet birds and become an ornithological expert.

Judgement at nuremberg

Lancaster joined an ensemble cast including Spencer Tracy and Marlene Dietrich for the powerful drama “Judgement at Nuremberg.” Lancaster plays Ernst Janning, one of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials, who are put on trial for crimes against humanity during the Nazi regime. This was one of the first films to tackle the subject of the Holocaust and included actual footage of concentration camps after their liberation by American soldiers.

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