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Burt Lancaster Centennial

MFAH Films presents four films featuring Burt Lancaster in four different genres: drama, film noir, historical epic, and Western. New York-born Lancaster first acted on the stage before his natural athleticism drew him to a successful career as a circus aerialist. The strapping, blue-eyed, blonde with the legendary grin later referred to Hollywood as “nothing more than a big circus.” His riveting turn as the rugged but enigmatic Ole Anderson in The Killers made him a star overnight, a sudden success that he transformed into one of the most enduring, influential careers of the post-war era. – UCLA Television Film & Archive

Past Films in This Series


Sweet Smell of Success

Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
New 35mm print! Introduced by Regina Scruggs, member of Houston Film Critics Society and Broadcast Film Critics Association "A damning portrait of human nature gone sour, Sweet Smell of Success is dominated by Burt Lancaster as black-hearted Broadway columnist J. J. Hunsecker, parsing out small gossip items to sycophantic press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), who in turn uses such information to his unscrupulous advantage. Obsessed to extremes with controlling his own sister's romantic life, Lancaster’s Hunsecker is a towering, teetering ... more info

The Killers

Directed by Robert Siodmak
"Burt Lancaster shot to stardom in his screen debut as an ex-boxer lured into ruin by Ava Gardner's treacherously irresistible femme fatale. This taut noir classic—Robert Siodmak's exemplary adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway short story—opens with hit men gunning down Lancaster's stoically accepting target. A fractured puzzle of flashbacks reveals the backstory of the killing in this stylishly hard-edged tale of robbery, unrequited love, and betrayal." —UCLA Television Film & Archive more info

The Leopard

Il gattopardo

1963, in Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Luchino Visconti
A sweeping, epic production with great costumes, characters, drama, and battle scenes, The Leopard (Il gattopardo) is often referred to as "Italy's Gone with the Wind.” As the dying aristocracy of 1860s Sicily struggles to maintain itself against the tumultuous social upheavals of the Risorgimento (Resurgence), the film traces the disintegration of the noble home of Fabrizio Corbero (Burt Lancaster) and the corresponding rise to power of the now-wealthy ex-peasant Don Calogero Sedara. Corbero does nothing to halt the decline ... more info

Vera Cruz

Directed by Robert Aldrich
"Burt Lancaster bends his famous grin into a sadistic sneer as outlaw Joe Erin in his second outing with director Robert Aldrich, adding a particularly savage streak to this Western high adventure set during the Mexican Revolution. Gary Cooper plays Erin's reluctant partner, a disgraced Southern officer turned mercenary after the Civil War, on a mission to escort a Spanish countess (Denise Darcel) to Vera Cruz until rebels and rumors of gold pit one against the other." —UCLA Television Film ... more info