Video: Highlights From the Legendary Film Career of Tony Curtis
By Moviefone Editors Posted Sep 30th 2010 11:10AM
'Sweet Smell of Success'
Known for his handsome looks and on-screen talent, the Bronx-born actor caught his first major break in the 1957 noir film 'Sweet Smell of Success,' opposite Burt Lancaster. In the film, Curtis played scheming press agent Sidney Falco, who helps J.J. Hunsecker (Lancaster) break up his sister's relationship so that he can get his clients' names in Hunsecker's paper. But as he quickly learns, the consequences are, well, anything but sweet.
'The Defiant Ones'
The following year, Curtis achieved major acclaim in 'The Defiant Ones,' opposite Sidney Poitier. The film, about two escaped prisoners, one white and one black, would go on to become one of the most important films of the era, due in great part to its portrayal of racism. The film also earned Curtis his first -- and only -- Academy Award nomination, for best actor. In this classic scene, watch as Curtis and Poitier's characters bond over how they got arrested.
'Some Like It Hot'
In 1959, Curtis landed arguably his best and most famous role, playing a musician on the run in the Billy Wilder comedy 'Some Like It Hot.' Co-starring Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, the film followed two jazz musicians (Curtis and Lemmon) who pose as women in an all-female traveling band after witnessing gang warfare in Chicago. While on the road, Curtis falls for one of his bandmates, the beautiful Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Monroe). But since he can't reveal his true identity, Curtis must don another one, that of a rich oil tycoon, to win Sugar's affections. Below, watch Sugar's first run-in with Shell Oil Junior.
More 'SLIH' where we see Curtis and Lemmon in drag for the first time.
That same year, Curtis hopped aboard the USS Sea Tiger in the hilarious comedy 'Operation Petticoat,' in which he played a womanizing con-man assigned to help repair a sunken submarine. Directed by Blake Edwards, the film was noted for its many laughs and chemistry between Curtis and leading-man Cary Grant.
In 1960, Curtis landed the role of slave Antoninus in Stanley Kubrick's epic historical drama 'Spartacus,' during which he famously defended Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) against the Romans in the now-famous "I'm Spartacus!" scene. Check it out below.
'Sex and the Single Girl'
A few years later, Curtis returned to the world of mistaken identities in the '64 adaptation of 'Sex and the Single Girl,' based on the bestselling advice book by Helen Gurley Brown. Once again, Curtis appeared opposite an all-star cast -- this time, Natalie Wood, Lauren Bacall and Henry Fonda -- in his hilarious portrayal of Bob Weston, a journalist who pretends to be a sex expert's (Wood) neighbor in order to write an expose on her. What results is a boatload of laughs and, natch, a budding romance.
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