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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

Tough and Tender

This eight week module focuses on Hollywood star Burt Lancaster, whose career stretched over five decades, taking in the final years of the studio system, the rise of independent production, star package deals, European co-productions and the ‘New Hollywood' of the late 1960s.

Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster

A former circus acrobat with no conventional acting training, Lancaster avoided typecasting in beefcake roles, his powerful physique and strong features often offset by a sensitivity and vulnerability that underlined his characters' complexities and flaws.

The focus is on Lancaster's screen persona and the representations of masculinity embodied in films such as The Killers (1946), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Train (1964), The Swimmer (1968) and Atlantic City (1980). By way of contrast, the module also considers the image of Kirk Douglas, Lancaster's contemporary, rival and occasional co-star, as in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).

A study day will address Lancaster's longstanding status as a prominent liberal activist in the largely apolitical Hollywood community and the ways in which this manifested in certain of his films as with the western Ulzana's Raid (1972), a pointed Vietnam allegory. It also considers his European ‘arthouse' work, with a screening and discussion of Conversation Piece (1974), his second collaboration with Italian director Luchino Visconti.


Harbour Lights Picturehouse

Course date/time:

10th October - 5th December (8 Wednesday sessions excluding 31st October)


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