(Photo by Untied Artists / courtesy Everett Collection)

All Kirk Douglas Movies Ranked

It wasn’t until 1946, after serving in the United States Navy during World War II and enjoying a subsequent stage career, that Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, then 30 years old, first stepped in front of a camera for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. By 1950, he’d be a Best Actor Oscar nominee: As Midge Kelly in Champion, he set a new standard in realism in boxing movies. Though blatantly endowed with leading-man looks, Douglas’ athleticism and versatility kept him maneuvering across genres during this peak period, playing a desperate reporter in Billy Wilder’s 1951 film Ace in the Hole just as film noir began to fade, and taking on his first Western of many more to come that same year. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Lonely are the Brave, and The War Wagon (co-starring John Wayne) are among the highlights of his Westerns career.

Three years after Champion, Douglas earned his second Best Actor nomination for the inside-Hollywood romantic drama, The Bad and the Beautiful. His roaring ’50s continued as he led audiences deep beneath in one of Walt Disney’s finest live-action adventures, 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and earned his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Vincent Van Gogh in 1956’s Lust for Life. Just a year later, Douglas accomplished arguably his finest artistic achievement in Paths of Glory, one of the best World War I films ever, directed by Stanley Kubrick. He and Kubrick would then reunite for the swords-and-sandals epic Spartacus. Not only did it spawn a famous line (“I’m Spartacus!”) and represent commercial peaks for both, Spartacus ended Hollywood’s blacklisting era when Douglas revealed Dalton Trumbo as the screenwriter and President John F. Kennedy publically viewed the film.

In the ’60s, Douglas turned out respectable films like Seven Days in May, The Heroes of Telemark, and Two Weeks in Another Town, though it was clear he wasn’t the same draw he was the previous decade. In the ’70s, he took on double-duty as a star and director; he put together two films in this way, including Posse, an offbeat late Western with Bruce Dern. His final notable Western also arrived this decade: The Villain, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ann-Margaret. After this, Douglas jumped into sci-fi for a spell, starring in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, going to deep space in Saturn 3, and time-warping to Pearl Harbor from an ’80s aircraft carrier in The Final Countdown.

In 1996, the Academy awarded him an Honorary Oscar for his 50 years in Hollywood. In 2003, Douglas starred in his last major film: the comedy It Runs in the Family, also starring his son Michael, as well as Michael’s son Cameron. 2006 saw his final on-screen performance in Illusion as a Hollywood icon granting a final interview in the twilight of his life. Look back and celebrate a triumphant life and career as we rank Kirk Douglas’ movies by Tomatometer!

#1
Adjusted Score: 100256%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Young Martha (Barbara Stanwyck) inadvertently causes the death of her cruel, authoritarian aunt. Martha lies to the cops, and Walter... [More]
Directed By: Lewis Milestone

#2

The Big Sky (1952)
89%

#2
Adjusted Score: 37599%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1830, two tough Kentucky mountaineers join a trading expedition from St. Louis up the Missouri River to trade whisky... [More]
Directed By: Howard Hawks

#3

Lust for Life (1956)
85%

#3
Adjusted Score: 84499%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This lauded drama depicts the life of revered Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas). An intense and imaginative artist,... [More]
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli

#4
Adjusted Score: 83765%
Critics Consensus: Melodrama at its most confident, The Bad and the Beautiful is an ode to moviemaking that offers unblinking insight into the ugly egos that have shaped Hollywood history.
Synopsis: Unscrupulous movie producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) is a child of Hollywood who ruthlessly toils his way to the top... [More]
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli

#5

Paths of Glory (1957)
96%

#5
Adjusted Score: 103433%
Critics Consensus: Paths of Glory is a transcendentally humane war movie from Stanley Kubrick, with impressive, protracted battle sequences and a knock-out ending.
Synopsis: During World War I, commanding officer General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders his subordinate, General Mireau (George Macready), to attack a... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#6

Spartacus (1960)
93%

#6
Adjusted Score: 99591%
Critics Consensus: Featuring terrific performances and epic action, Kubrick's restored swords-and-sandals epic is a true classic.
Synopsis: The rebellious Thracian Spartacus, born and raised a slave, is sold to Gladiator trainer Batiatus. After weeks of being trained... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#7

Out of the Past (1947)
95%

#7
Adjusted Score: 99518%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by a wistful Robert Mitchum, Out of the Past is an exemplary noir steeped in doom and sensuality.
Synopsis: The quiet life of small-town gas station owner Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is interrupted when a figure from his shady... [More]
Directed By: Jacques Tourneur

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 85340%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Deborah Bishop, Lora Mae Hollingsway and Rita Phipps are three friends who all receive letters from another friend, Addie Ross,... [More]
Directed By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#9

Champion (1949)
94%

#9
Adjusted Score: 94859%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Scrappy Michael "Midge" Kelly (Kirk Douglas), on the run from a shotgun marriage and needing to help support his handicapped... [More]
Directed By: Mark Robson

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 92506%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ranch hand Jack Burns (Kirk Douglas) feels out of place in the modern world. Jack deliberately gets into a bar... [More]
Directed By: David Miller

#11

Ace in the Hole (1951)
92%

#11
Adjusted Score: 97511%
Critics Consensus: Spearheaded by an excellent Kirk Douglas, Ace in the Hole is an incisive and sardonic satire that, much like its opportunistic hero, never lets moral compunction get in the way of a good story.
Synopsis: With flaws that outweigh his talent, reporter Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) has bounced across the country from job to job.... [More]
Directed By: Billy Wilder

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 92517%
Critics Consensus: John Frankenheimer's striking direction and a first-rate cast conspire to make Seven Days in May a stark, riveting tale of political intrigue.
Synopsis: U.S. President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) hopes to bring an end to the Cold War by signing a nuclear disarmament... [More]
Directed By: John Frankenheimer

#13

The War Wagon (1967)
90%

#13
Adjusted Score: 43421%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Rancher Taw Jackson (John Wayne) is out for revenge. He was shot by a gunslinger, Lomax (Kirk Douglas), on the... [More]
Directed By: Burt Kennedy

#14
Adjusted Score: 91297%
Critics Consensus: One of Disney's finest live-action adventures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings Jules Verne's classic sci-fi tale to vivid life, and features an awesome giant squid.
Synopsis: In 1866, Professor Pierre M. Aronnax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre), stranded in San Francisco by reports... [More]
Directed By: Richard Fleischer

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 85033%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Upon being released after years in a mental hospital, fallen Hollywood star and alcoholic Jack Andrus (Kirk Douglas) moves to... [More]
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 45902%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After the death of his father, proud young Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson) sets out to become his own man. Taking... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 48417%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As the wealthiest and most powerful man in the Wild West town of Gun Hill, cattle rancher Craig Belden (Anthony... [More]
Directed By: John Sturges

#18
Adjusted Score: 84777%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Lawman Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) and gunfighter John "Doc" Holliday (Kirk Douglas) find themselves together again in Tombstone, Ariz., despite... [More]
Directed By: John Sturges

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 81267%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After a botched heist, Wild West bandit Paris Pitman Jr. (Kirk Douglas) hides his newly stolen money where no one... [More]
Directed By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 19300%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Rick Martin (Kirk Douglas) is a young man with no direction in life --until he discovers he has a flare... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#22

The Fury (1978)
77%

#22
Adjusted Score: 78510%
Critics Consensus: Brian De Palma reins in his stylistic flamboyance to eerie effect in The Fury, a telekinetic slow burn that rewards patient viewers with its startling set pieces.
Synopsis: When a devious plot separates CIA agent Peter Sandza (Kirk Douglas) from his son, Robin (Andrew Stevens), the distraught father... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#22

The Vikings (1958)
76%

#22
Adjusted Score: 77863%
Critics Consensus: Despite moments of excess, The Vikings has enough balance in its larger-than-life action sequences and characters to entertain.
Synopsis: Viking Prince Einar (Kirk Douglas) doesn't know it, but his most fearsome enemy, the slave Eric (Tony Curtis), is actually... [More]
Directed By: Richard Fleischer

#23

Detective Story (1951)
69%

#23
Adjusted Score: 69671%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: James McLeod (Kirk Douglas) is a stern police detective who has no tolerance for crime. At home, however, he is... [More]
Directed By: William Wyler

#24

The Brotherhood (1968)
60%

#24
Adjusted Score: 27824%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Upon returning from Vietnam, Vince Ginetta (Alex Cord) marries the lovely Emma Bertolo (Susan Strasberg), the daughter of Mafia kingpin... [More]
Directed By: Martin Ritt

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 69731%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Near the end of World War II, Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz (Jean-Paul Belmondo) receives orders to burn down Paris if... [More]
Directed By: René Clément

#26
Adjusted Score: 66703%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: British army Col. Anthony Gethryn (George C. Scott) is contacted by his old friend, Adrian Messenger (John Merivale), to investigate... [More]
Directed By: John Huston

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 19355%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this fact-based film, as Axis and Allied scientists race to create the first atomic bomb, British Intelligence receives shocking... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Mann

#28

Posse (1975)
67%

#28
Adjusted Score: 18213%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Texas Marshal Howard Nightingale (Kirk Douglas) aspires to become a U.S. senator and believes that to do so, he must... [More]
Directed By: Kirk Douglas

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 34864%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Army attorney Maj. Steve Garrett (Kirk Douglas) must defend four American soldiers -- part of the forces occupying a small... [More]
Directed By: Gottfried Reinhardt

#30

Tough Guys (1986)
53%

#30
Adjusted Score: 36865%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The last two men (Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas) ever to rob a U.S. train finally get out of prison, decide... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Kanew

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 45440%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A time warp takes the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and its captain (Kirk Douglas) back to Pearl Harbor, Dec. 6,... [More]
Directed By: Don Taylor

#32

In Harm's Way (1965)
33%

#32
Adjusted Score: 34327%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Naval Captain Torrey (John Wayne) manages to bring his ship through the bombing of Pearl Harbor unscathed, but is later... [More]
Directed By: Otto Preminger

#33

Illusion (2004)
36%

#33
Adjusted Score: 18213%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Donald Baines (Kirk Douglas) is a legendary filmmaker in the twilight of his life. Slowly dying, he watches his life's... [More]
Directed By: Michael Goorjian

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 32159%
Critics Consensus: Despite its gimmick casting, the movie ultimately goes nowhere.
Synopsis: Three generations of males -- grandfather Mitch Gromberg (Kirk Douglas), son Alex (Michael Douglas) and grandson Asher (Cameron Douglas) --... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#35

Greedy (1994)
32%

#35
Adjusted Score: 28803%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Elderly Uncle Joe (Kirk Douglas) made his fortune as a businessman, and now his heirs are maneuvering to ensure they... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Lynn

#36

Diamonds (1999)
26%

#36
Adjusted Score: 25755%
Critics Consensus: Kirk Douglas' flinty performance fails to overshadow an otherwise dull and cliche-ridden affair.
Synopsis: Harry Agensky (Kirk Douglas), an elderly, retired boxing champion, is recovering from a recent stroke that has left him with... [More]
Directed By: John Mallory Asher

#37

Saturn 3 (1980)
25%

#37
Adjusted Score: 14249%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A madman (Harvey Keitel) and his shiny robot chase a May-December couple (Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas) doing food research on... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Donen

#38

Oscar (1991)
12%

#38
Adjusted Score: 7857%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Bags of loot and his daughter's love life confuse a gangster (Sylvester Stallone) on the day he plans to go... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#39

The Arrangement (1969)
8%

#39
Adjusted Score: 4522%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Madison Avenue adman (Kirk Douglas) with a wife (Deborah Kerr) and mistress (Faye Dunaway) goes off the deep end... [More]
Directed By: Elia Kazan

#40

The Villain (1979)
0%

#40
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An outlaw (Kirk Douglas) eyes a stagecoach and a beautiful woman (Ann-Margret) but is foiled by a handsome stranger in... [More]
Directed By: Hal Needham

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