The Films of Stanley Kubrick
In a career spanning forty-eight years, he was personally nominated for thirteen Academy Award Oscars. His films were nominated an incredible twenty-seven times, winning nine...
In this blog post we take a look at the thirteen feature films and three short films directed by the incredible Stanley Kubrick.
Born in Manhattan in 1928, Stanley Kubrick grew up in the New York Bronx and displayed a precocious interest in story-telling, photography and film-making.
Following three short films (1951 - 1953), Kubrick privately raised the money to make his first feature film, Fear and Desire (1953). The film was not a financial success, but did enough to highlight this young director's burgeoning talents.
His second feature length film Killer's Kiss (1955) was bought by United Artists for $100,000, versus its production costs of $75,000. UA also saw enough talent in the director to provide funds for his next film.
In 1955, Kubrick met James B. Harris and began a long-time partnership with the 'Harris-Kubrick Pictures Corporation'. Their first film, 1956's The Killing, was critically acclaimed but suffered from a lack of mainstream release. It did however impress MGM studios, who offered Harris and Kubrick funds for their next project.
Path's to Glory (1957) began a two film partnership with actor Kirk Douglas. With a budget of $900,000, it was a significant investment, but one which delivered commercial and critical success. The scenes of Douglas in the trenches before going 'over the top', the trial of three men for cowardice and their eventual execution by firing squad, are all particularly powerful. Nominations included the Best Film BAFTA and the Writer's Guild of America Award.
Following the success of their first film together, it was Douglas who approached Kubrick to direct Spartacus (1960). Douglas was producing and starring in the film, playing opposite Laurence Olivier. With a budget of $6M, a cast of 10,000 and a previous Director's shoes to fill (Douglas had fired the previous one), it was a major undertaking. Spartacus delivered $15M at the box office and four Oscars, marking the arrival of Kubrick as a significant film-making force.
In 1961, Kubrick moved to the U.K., where he would live and work for the remainder of his life.
1962's Lolita was the first of his films to be made in England. Filmed at Elstree Studios and based on the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov, it began another two-film actor partnership, this time with the brilliant Peter Sellers. It's troubling tale of the obsession of Humbert Humbert with the young Delores Haze, was perfectly balanced by Kubrick with the almost slapstick performance of Sellers.
Dr Strangelove (1964) continued the black comedy first showcased in Lolita, with Sellers playing three different roles, it provided a satirical poke at the cold-war nuclear politics of the day.
1968 marked Kubrick's 'tour de force' with 2001: A Space Odyssey. An Oscar winning film that Steven Spielberg has stated was his generation's "big bang". The film regularly appears in 'top 10' lists of the best films of all time.
Based on Anthony Burgess' novel, A Clockwork Orange (1971) was a more modest film that, unfortunately, courted considerable controversy. Having been linked to potential copy-cat violent crimes, Kubrick withdrew the film from release in the UK. It would not be seen here until after Kubrick's death. This should not over-shadow the brilliance of the film, which was nominated for four Oscars and awarded the New York Film Critics Film of the Year award.
Perhaps a period drama felt like a safer subject matter for his next film. Barry Lyndon (1975) was based on a story by William Makepeace Thackeray set in the 18th Century. Starring Ryan O'Neal, filming was undertaken in Ireland and England, with Kubrick famously commissioning NASA to produce lenses that could accurately capture shots lit only by candle-light.
Having turned down offers to direct The Exorcist, it is perhaps surprising that Kubrick's next subject matter should be horror. The Shining (1980) was a great commercial success and is considered a masterpiece of the genre.
A seven year gap followed before 1987's Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick's early films had explored the futility of war and here he returned to the topic with a bang. A film of two halves, R. Lee Ermey and Vincent D'Onofrio give stunning performances in the first, before Matthew Modine takes us to Vietnam (actually in part a disused gas works in East London) and the horrors of war. Stunning.
Kubrick's final film Eyes Wide Shut (1999) stars Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (at that time married) as a successful and conservative couple inadvertently exposed to a sexually promiscuous, and, potentially dangerous world. Beautifully shot, paintings by Kubrick's wife (Christiane) and daughter (Katharina) feature prominently.
Based on a 1926 novel by Arthur Schnitzler, Eyes Wide Shut continued, and concluded, Kubrick's pattern of using (mostly short) stories as the basis for beautiful, engaging and provocative cinematic masterpieces.
Stanley Kubrick died a few days after completing his thirteenth feature film, leaving behind a stunning legacy of films that delight film-watches, influence film-makers, and, that challenge both of those groups, today.
If you would like to retain a copy, you can download a PDF version of the movie timeline below.
As you can probably tell, we are huge fans of Stanley Kubrick's work. Luckily for us, some of the posters and lobby cards from his films are also phenomenal pieces of art.
You can see which ones we currently have available by using the search facility at the top of the screen to look for 'Kubrick', or, you can just click here.
We hope you find something you love.
Adam and the Art of the Movies team.