This is a slow-moving picture whose only action is in the dialog itself. Basically a faithful portrait of Van Gogh, Lust for Life is nonetheless unexciting. It misses out in conveying the color and entertainment of the original Irving Stone novel. It’s a tragic recap that Stone penned, but still there was no absence of amusing incidents.
Lensed in Holland and France, Lust for Life is largely conversation plus expert tint photography, and both on a high level.
Kirk Douglas plays the title role with undeniable understanding of the artist. He’s a competent performer all the way, conveying the frustrations which beset Van Gogh in his quest for knowledge of life and the approach to putting this on canvas.
But somehow the measure of sympathy that should be engendered for the genius who was to turn insane is not realized. To draw a comparison, Jose Ferrer in Moulin Rouge made Toulouse-Lautrec ‘closer’ to the audience.
1956: Best Supp. Actor (Anthony Quinn).
Nominations: Best Actor (Kirk Douglas), Adapted Screenplay, Color Art Direction