Kevin added a new article:
One hundred years ago today, Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch, the son of a Moscow-born Russian Jewish ragman, in upstate New York. An uncle had been killed in the pogroms at home. In his 1988 memoir, The Ragman’s Son, Douglas describes the casual antisemitism he faced almost throughout his career. Rebranding yourself with a Waspy stage-name was what actors – and immigrants in general – had to do in America to survive and thrive.
After a start on the Broadway stage, he made his screen reputation playing the driven fighter Midge Kelly in the exhilarating boxing movie Champion (1949), which earned him the first of his three Oscar nominations. Champion has stunning images and a notable slo-mo scene: it is much admired by Martin Scorsese and transparently an influence on Raging Bull. In Detective Story (1951), directed by William Wyler, Douglas gives a grandstanding star turn in a melodrama set in a police station, playing the vindictive, violent McLeod, an officer with an awful secret. It was a movie that laid down the template for all cop TV shows, including The Streets of San Francisco, which was to star Douglas’s son Michael.
But it was in Ace in the Hole (1951), directed by Billy Wilder, that Douglas gives his first classic performance: the sinister newspaper reporter Chuck Tatum, who prolongs the ordeal of a man trapped in a cave to create a better story. He is an electrifying villain in that film, a Phineas T Barnum of media untruth.…