Movies - TV
Kirk Douglas Was Thankful Stanley Kubrick Stuck To His Guns With Paths Of Glory
By DEVIN MEENAN
In Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 film "Paths of Glory," Kirk Douglas plays Dax, a colonel who is trying to save three of his infantrymen from being executed after they refuse to participate in a suicide mission. He ultimately fails in his mission, but if it wasn’t for Douglas standing his ground, the film would have had a happy, but unsatisfactory, ending.
In Douglas’ memoir “The Ragman's Son,” he recounted how when he arrived in Munich to start filming “Paths of Glory,” the ending was not the one that had originally turned him on to the script. In this draft, the general at the last minute changes the soldiers’ punishment to “thirty days in the guardhouse. Then [...] Dax goes off with the bad guy he's been fighting [...] to have a drink, as the general puts his arm around [Dax’s] shoulder.”
Douglas called the new script a “catastrophe,” and when he asked Kubrick why he had changed it, the director said that he wanted “[t]o make it commercial. I want to make money.” As Douglas’ production company, Bryna Productions, was funding “Paths of Glory,” the actor pulled rank and said that the movie would not be made if it wasn’t with the original script.
A biography of Jim Thompson, who penned the happy ending script, speculates that Kubrick may have actually changed out the script to play “ego chess” with Douglas. Thompson’s draft didn’t showcase Dax prominently, so author Robert Polito explains that “the evolution of the various scripts is that 'Paths of Glory' was restyled steadily into a vehicle for Kirk Douglas.”