|The shadows enhance the film's dark tones.|
2. Seven Days in May (1964) - John Frankenheimer's potent political thriller features Lancaster as as General James Mattoon Scott, a strong, charismatic leader who is convinced that a nuclear threat is the only way to hold the Soviet Union in check. The role is a tough one that requires the actor to convince us that Scott believes his actions are driven by patriotism--not his own out-sized ego. The beauty of Lancaster's performance is that he finds that "sweet spot." Like Kirk Douglas, who plays a Scott admirer, we cannot condone the General's treasonous actions. Yet, at the same time, we recognize that Scott is a far more engaged leader than the President prior to the attempted coup.
|Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster.|
4. The Rainmaker (1956) - I expect to receive some flack for selecting this one over more celebrated performances in Separate Tables and Elmer Gantry. Personally, I think that Lancaster overplays those roles (which were perhaps overwritten to start with). He may be loud and obnoxious as traveling con man Bill Starbuck...but he creates magic with Katharine Hepburn. She was Oscar nominated and it's a fine performance, but I think Kate's success as spinster Lizzie Curry would be diminished if she was acting opposite anyone but Burt as Starbuck. It's a role that fits him like a glove.
|Burt and Ava had chemistry!|
Honorable mentions: The Kentuckian, Birdman of Alcatraz, The Crimson Pirate, Brute Force, The Swimmer, and Run Silent, Run Deep.