In A Letter to Three Wives, Douglas plays supporting character, Geroge Phipps, the husband of one of the three women trying to figure out which one of their husbands ran off with the movie's "antagonist." Douglas' performance as the "emasculated" professor is subtle yet effective.
Detective Story saw Douglas play no-nonsense police detective and loving husband, Jim McLeod. The film follows McLeod's crusade against an abortionist wanted on murder charges. The movie's twists and turns deconstruct Douglas' character, one that is truly painted in shades of gray.
In Seven Days in May, Douglas plays Martin Casey, who alerts the president of a pending coup to overthrow the latter in the wake of a Cold War nuclear disarmament treaty. The FBI actually feared that this movie would be used as communist propaganda at the time...
Douglas' stand out performance in Out of the Past sees him play the crooked gambler, Whit Sterling. The role only furthered his reputation as a Hollywood tough guy who loved to play "bastards."
In Ace in the Hole, Douglas' plays the raw role of Chuck Tatum—a binge-drinking, cold reporter who lands a gig at a small newspaper in Albuquerque (because no one else will have him).
Douglas' performance as Ned Land was a complete genre shift for the actor. Disney's adaptation of Jules Verne's classic science fiction novel saw Douglas as a much lighter character than audiences were used to.
Stanley Kubrick's game-changing WWI movie, Paths of Glory, put Douglas at its center as Col. Dax: the French Colonel who refuses to embark on a suicide mission—provoking the entire film's exploration of war.
Douglas' performance as Midge Kelly gained him his first ever Oscar nomination and put him on the map as a "tough guy." Douglas plays a poor kid who makes a name who himself with his fists; boxing movies like Rocky and Raging Bull wouldn't exist without Champion.
When presenting Douglas with his Oscar, Steven Spielberg called The Bad and the Beautiful, "one of the best movies about movies ever made." Douglas plays Jonathan Shields, a less than admirable Hollywood producer. The film is infamous for rubbing a lot of big wigs in Hollywood the wrong way at the time of its release; however, that didn't keep Douglas from getting his second Oscar nomination.
Douglas starred as Vincent Van Gogh in the biopic Lust for Life. His depiction of the famous artist, one ripe with torment, obsession, and mental illness, gained him a well-deserved third Oscar nomination.
"I'm Spartacus" is perhaps one of the most famous lines, uttered in one of the most recognizable scenes, in cinematic history. Douglas played one of film's greatest heroes in Stanley Kubrick's historical epic—forever changing the legacies of Douglas, Kubrick, Dalton Trumbo, and Hollywood itself.