For a moment, it seemed as though Kirk Douglas hadn’t slowed down one iota since shooting Richard Fleischer’s “The Vikings” in 1958.
As he strode into the courtyard of the Egyptian Theater last week to introduce an American Cinematheque screening of the Nordic saga, Douglas briskly signed autographs and, as he stepped inside, received a standing ovation from some 600 movie lovers assembled for a tribute to Fleischer’s work.
“Since my stroke, I don’t give long speeches,” Douglas announced, but went on to regale the audience with anecdotes about the bawdy, action-packed epic he produced and starred in with Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Ernest Borgnine.
After the screening, Leigh joined Fleischer onstage for some further reminiscences in the making of “Vikings” on location in Norway.
Event was part of a two-week Fleischer extravaganza that included screenings of “The Boston Strangler” (1968), “Soylent Green” (1972), “Dr. Dolittle” (1967), “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954), “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970), “Fantastic Voyage” (1966) and “Compulsion” (1959).
Fleischer made 47 feature films during a five-decade career — his pictures won eight Academy Awards from 25 nominations — and once said his greatest joy was to “draw a performance out of an actor that no one, not even the actor, believed he was capable of delivering.”