Kirk Douglas, who died today at age 103, was known for many roles, but “Spartacus” was one of his most visible and iconic.
In 1955, he released the first film produced under his own banner, Bryna Productions, which was named after his mother. Bryna also produced the 1957 antiwar film “Paths of Glory,” starring Douglas and directed by a young Stanley Kubrick. Three years later, they collaborated on “Spartacus.” Douglas not only starred in “Spartacus” he he also produced it, and as producer he secretly hired the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo to write the screenplay.
Douglas plays the gladiator leader of a Roman slave revolt in “Spartacus,” directed by Kubrick. The film’s first director was Anthony Mann, but Douglas fired him early in production and brought in Kubrick, who had directed him in “Paths of Glory.” Spartacus had battles on-screen, and Douglas had battles off-screen, including with the Production Code Administration, forerunner of today’s MPAA.