No one at the Film Festival’s annual Kirk Douglas Award gala on Thursday at the Coral Casino appeared to be having more fun than the honoree, Quention Tarantino. Was it the beautiful setting, the presence of so many warm admirers, the copious supply of Chopin vodka and other assorted goodies, or could it just be that the reigning bad boy director of our era is once again in the mood to party? One thing is for sure – there has yet to be a better fit between the recipient of this distinguished award and its namesake, Kirk Douglas. Douglas made a funny and touching introduction to the man he called his “new best friend,” expressing surprise that he had not been cast in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. “After all,” said Douglas, “I’ve spent fifty years playing bastards.” Cataloguing Tarantino’s many attributes – actor, director, producer, screenwriter – Douglas quipped that it seems as though Tarantino is “trying to find himself.”
The director then hit the podium with his own Kirk Douglas story, about the time he argued with his father about who kills whom at the end of Spartacus. It was a little confusing, but what remained clear was that this man was once a cinema-savvy six-year-old, and that the excitement of an onscreen fight between Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis – whether it was the one in Spartacus or the one in The Vikings – was a big part of what drew Tarantino into making films. Vowing to return “during the festival proper to watch some killer flicks,” Tarantino bid the rapt audience a good night.