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KIRK DOUGLAS IN HIS PERSONAL FAV OF 'LONELY ARE THE BRAVE'

Kirk Douglas is a cowboy battling copters in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE Year: 1962
The late Kirk Douglas's favorite movie, that he starred in, wasn't SPARTACUS but LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, beginning like a TWILIGHT ZONE episode would end: A man seeming like a  genuine-article cowboy, from the actual 1880's genuine cowboy era, awakes in the craggy desert with his faithful horse, when something catches his eyes, and our ears...

Streaks across the sky from echoing jet planes, and now the audience learns we're in modern times (an introductory misleading-device later used in Sam Peckinpah's BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA also involving planes): Something Douglas's character isn't quite used to despite having reluctantly lived it all these years...
Kirk Douglas in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
A creative setup followed by an overlong visit to his best friend's wife, Gena Rowlands, whose entire role serves Kirk Douglas's aging actor's ego (the younger woman thing); but her first of two long scenes does inform who he wants to spring from jail — after finding a way to "break in" in the first place: A wonderfully choreographed saloon fight verses the same one-armed man from THE FUGITIVE television series.

So Kirk's soon behind bars in a crowded cell lined with crowded tables and bunk beds where Michael Kane, as Kirk's friend Paul — having been idealistically smuggling Mexicans across the border — wants nothing to do with escape since he has his wife (and son) to return to after a year sentence. As an actor, the sound of Kane's full name would be replaced by a famous Brit with different spelling. Either way, opposite a huge star like Douglas, it's a rather uninspired casting, seeming more like a television performance (albeit a capable one)...
Michael Kane and Kirk Douglas in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
Still, these are the good parts (perhaps even the best part), and the dialogue between old friends surrounded by quirky inmates and a sadistic guard (George Kennedy) is involving, good old fashion Western pulp, and with deep layers...

But soon, the two remaining acts are merged into one prolonged last-half, featuring a snarky, world-weary Walter Matthau (chagrined with his Barney Fife-foreshadowing deputy William Schallert) as the sheriff in passive walky-talky pursuit of the escaped convict and horse, headed for a mountain to possible freedom on the other side...
Carol O'Conner thinking those were the days in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
Yet he's obviously headed for some kind of inevitable disaster, as it's both bizarre and predictable that we sporadically cut to Carol O'Connor (a decade before ALL IN THE FAMILY and three years before he and Douglas appeared together in IN HARM'S WAY) as a mundane and exhausted furniture-truck driver, headed in the opposite direction as Douglas, both literally and symbolically...

Sadly, the mountain chase involving Kirk and horse against formidably modern helicopters, is trudging and repetitive, making one yearn for the lock-up and before that, the brawling saloon and before that, the chilly morning earth he calls home sweet home. But that's not all...
Kirk Douglas in Lonely are the Brave aka The Last Hero aka The Last Cowboy
Future Academy Award winning producer Michael Douglas was handed the reins to ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST from dad Kirk, who was, in the 1960's, set to play Jack Nicholson's future role as source author Ken Kesey's doomed psych-ward rebel Randall Patrick McMurphy...

Which obviously wouldn't have worked; at least not as it should have given the progressed, ahead-of-its-time depth of the novel. Then again, perhaps LONELY ARE THE BRAVE is his very own NEST. Then again, Kirk also passed up FIRST BLOOD as last-minute-replacement Richard Crenna's monologue-spouting Colonel Trautman. And who knows — maybe this film's resilient, law-dodging rogue, John W. Burns, was the source novel's inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's rebel's rebel John J. Rambo. Strangers things have happened.
Kirk Douglas calmly looking for or waiting for trouble in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE Rates: ***
Kirk Douglas in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE directed by David Miller
Kirk Douglas as John John W. "Jack" Burns in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
Walter Matthau as Sheriff Morey Johnson in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
Walter Matthau and his Barney Fife deputy William Schallert in Lonely Are the Brave
Kirk Douglas in Lonely Are the Brave adapted by Spartacus scribe Dalton Trumbo
Kirk Douglas's been to the edge and stood and looked down Lonely are the Brave
Always need to see a whirlybird in a Western from LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
Kirk Douglas with peeved Fugitive stalker Bill Raisch in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
Three years later Carol O'Conner & Kirk Douglas w/ John Wayne in IN HARM'S WAY
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