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Michael Douglas, son of legendary actor Kirk Douglas, has succeeded in making himself a household name and carving his own space in Hollywood history. His parents, Kirk and Diana, divorced when Michael was six years old so he spent his childhood living with Diana and her new husband. Michael attended Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and began his acting career in the mid-60s despite his father’s fierce objections. Douglas’ breakthrough role came on the 1972 television series, The Streets of San Francisco, opposite Karl Malden and he hasn’t stopped since! He’s tackled thrillers, dramas and even comedy despite ups and downs in his personal life. Michael Douglas always gives 110% in every role no matter what. In honor of his 69th birthday today, here is my Top 10 list of Michael Douglas movies!
10. The War of the Roses: – This 1989 black comedy reunited Douglas with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, both of which he starred with in 1984’s Romancing the Stone and 1985’s Jewel of the Nile. Here, Douglas and Turner played married couple Oliver and Barbara Rose, who loved each other but grew to hate each other over time. We see their love story and how they grew to despise each other through flashbacks as their lawyer, played by DeVito, tells another client their harrowing tale. There were some tender moments between Douglas and Turner but overall the movie showed the dangers of a vicious divorce and Douglas portrayed Oliver as a man determined to get his wife out of their house by any means necessary with chilling precision.
9. The Game – This 1997 thriller had Douglas co-starring with Sean Penn. Douglas’ character, Nicholas Van Orton, a wealthy investment banker, received an unusual birthday gift from his estranged brother, Conrad, played by Penn. It was a voucher for a live-action game that ended up taking over his life. Douglas’ character endured deceit and emotional upheaval all in the name of surviving the game. There were twists and turns abounds and the climax of the movie presented an ending moviegoers were sure to be floored at. Douglas’ portrayal of a wealthy man determined to get his money and family back while fighting to stay alive was riveting!
8. Wall Street – This 1987 drama had Douglas playing the wily, unscrupulous corporate raider, Gordon Gekko. It also starring Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, Hal Holbrook and was directed by Oliver Stone. Douglas’ portrayal of Gekko conveyed the incessant excess of the 80s summed up in the infamous line, “Greed is good. Greed works.” Douglas won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the ruthless Gekko, who paid no mind to breaking the law or who he hurt, just as long as he came out on top!
7. Fatal Attraction – This 1987 psychological thriller succeeded in scaring any man who was even contemplating cheating on his wife. Douglas played successful New York attorney Dan Gallagher, a happily married man who has a weekend affair with Alexandra “Alex” Forest, played by Glenn Close, an editor for a publishing company. Gallagher’s fling became a nightmare as Alex stalked him, his wife, Beth, played by Anne Archer and their daughter. Eventually, Alex’s obsession led to her attacking Beth, who ultimately shot Alex dead in one of the most pulse-pounding endings ever! Douglas’ performance proved to men all over the world that an adulterous fling can get out of control!
6. The In-Laws – Douglas played an off-the-wall undercover CIA agent Steve Tobias in this 2003 action comedy. Tobias’ son, Mark, played by Ryan Reynolds, was getting married to Melissa Peyser, played by Lindsay Sloane, the daughter of a mild-mannered foot doctor, Jerry Peyser, played by the hilarious Albert Brooks. Jerry stumbled onto Steve’s real identity and hilarity ensued from there as Steve involved Jerry in his secret operation, which involved a Russian submarine. Jerry does everything he can to distance himself from the seemingly crazy Tobias as they spent the whole movie dodging bullets and delivering hysterical one-liners. This movie got mixed reviews from critics but IMO, it proved that Douglas could do comedy just as well as he does drama!
5. Basic Instinct – This 1992 erotic thriller had Douglas playing Detective Nick Curran, who was in charge of investigating a brutal murder and the prime suspect was the seductive Catherine Tramell, played by Sharon Stone. Curran and Tramell began a torrid sexual relationship even though Curran doesn’t know if Tramell is guilty or not. The film was surrounded by controversy due to its homosexual and bisexual themes but the movie made Stone a Hollywood sex symbol mostly due to her leg crossing in one memorable scene. Yet, Douglas succeeded in portraying a man conflicted between his feelings and his duty to uphold the law.
4. Disclosure – This 1994 thriller directed by Barry Levinson had Douglas starring as Tom Sanders, the head of manufacturing at DigiCom, a technology company, who is happily married with kids. Demi Moore co-starred as Meredith Johnson, a former girlfriend of Tom’s who comes to work for the company as his boss. Late one night, she tried to seduce him but he balked. She later accused him of sexual harassment and he had to prove his innocence to his boss and family. Douglas and Moore’s power struggle through the movie was riveting as moviegoers didn’t know who would end up the winner.
3. The Jewel of the Nile – This 1985 romantic action comedy was the sequel to the monster 1984 hit Romancing the Stone. Douglas reprised his role as the swashbuckling Jack Colton. Set six months after Romancing the Stone, romance novelist Joan Wilder, played by Kathleen Turner, was living with Jack on his boat and they were sailing around the world together, but, Joan got restless and wanted to break out of her romance novel author persona and write something serious. She became embroiled with an Arab ruler named Omar, who wanted her to write his story but he was secretly keeping “The Jewel of the Nile,” a holy man hostage so he could rule over Africa. Douglas and Turner then traveled to Africa and fell in love all over again amidst strange customs and flying bullets. Douglas’ fun-loving portrayal of Colton was a hit again with moviegoers through the movie wasn’t well liked by critics.
2. The American President – This 1995 romantic dramedy had Douglas playing the most powerful man in the world: the President of the United States. He played widowed Democratic President Andrew Shepherd, who met lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade, played by Annette Bening, who was been hired by an environmental firm to convince Shepherd to pass a bill lowering carbon dioxide emissions, which aid in global warming. Shepherd, who also had a young daughter named Lucy, was attracted to Wade and though she was wary, they started dating. Then, Shepherd’s family values were called into question since Wade later stayed the night with Shepherd in the White House down the hall from his daughter. Richard Dreyfuss’ co-starred as Republican Senator Bob Rumson, who spearheaded the character attacks on Shepherd and Wade in his bid for the White House. Douglas played Shepherd with a witty exuberance and his chemistry with Bening showed they were a perfect romantic duo. Moviegoers couldn’t help but root for Shepherd and Wade to overcome Rumson’s attacks, win back America’s support and ultimately end up together!
1. Romancing the Stone - This 1984 romantic adventure comedy had Douglas playing adventurer Jack Colton. Colton met dowdy romance novelist, Joan Wilder, played by Kathleen Turner, in Columbia as she was trying to rescue her sister from kidnappers and in the process, the fell in love. Douglas’ Colton turns Turner’s plain and lonely romance novelist into a daring woman as they braved the jungles of Columbia just like in a romance novel. The movie was a monster smash and showed off Douglas’ capability as a romantic hero!
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