Paths of Glory: Douglas Clashed with Director Kubrick

Star Kirk Douglas and director Stanley Kubrick collaborated twice, on Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960), both great films–albeit for different reasons.  But the two men had a famously  troubled relationship.

In an interview with Douglas in anticipation of his 100th birthday on December 9, the actor discussed his long career, his “peculiar” friendship with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

“He was a bastard!” Douglas told Variety. “But he was a talented, talented guy.”

Their partnership began in 1955, when Douglas hired Kubrick to direct the film Paths of Glory  The two began clashing heads, after Kubrick made major script rewrites without Douglas’ approval or knowledge.  But in the end, Douglas forced the director to use the original version.

“Difficult? Kubrick invented the word,” Douglas said. “But he was talented. So, we had lots of fights, but I always appreciated his talent.”
The pair clashed again during the filming of 1960’s Spartacus, when Douglas forced Kubrick to go through with the now-iconic “I am Spartacus!” scene, which Kubrick highly disliked.

According to Douglas, their arguments were so prolonged and vicious that his wife suggested the two attend therapy together.  The psychiatrist told Kubrick to read the 1926 “Traumnovelle,” recalls Douglas, which would later become his final film, Eyes Wide Shut.

“It was his lousiest picture,” according to Douglas.  Kubrick shot the Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman erotic drama in England, where he moved in 1961 after clashing with Universal on Spartacus, when they refused to give him final cut.

Kubrick died of a massive heart attack in 1999, six days after showing Warner the final version of Eyes Wide Shut.