Lust for Life

Lust for Life

Vincente Minnelli (1956)

A Certificate


Our Score
Don't let the catchpenny title (from the doorstop biography by Irving Stone) put you off - this is an extremely superior example of the Hollywood biopic, the tale of tortured painter Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh is uncannily well played by Kirk Douglas, who seems to capture the very essence of the tormented artist, though it was actually Anthony Quinn's Paul Gauguin that won the Oscar for this movie. It's lovingly crafted by brilliant director Vincente Minnelli, with superb colour and CinemaScope cinematography from Russell Harlan and the great Freddie Young - responsible for the glorious look of Lawrence of Arabia. The authentic Arles location and a fine Miklos Rozsa score are also major plus points. This intelligent, beautifully made film was never a commercial success, but it acquired a cult following, largely owing to Minnelli's colour sense and Douglas's magnificent crystalline performance.


Biopic of Vincent Van Gogh, examining the beginnings of his career as an artist after disastrous experiences in the priesthood and as a social activist. He obsessively devotes himself to his art, supported by his brother and forming a close friendship with a fellow painter, but faces a constant struggle with mental illness and poverty. Starring Kirk Douglas and an Oscar-winning Anthony Quinn as Gauguin.

Cast & Crew

Vincent van Gogh Kirk Douglas
Paul Gauguin Anthony Quinn
Theo van Gogh James Donald
Christine Pamela Brown
Dr Gachet Everett Sloane
Roulin Niall MacGinnis
Anton Mauve Noel Purcell
Theodorus van Gogh Henry Daniell
Anna Cornelia van Gogh Madge Kennedy
Willemien Jill Bennett
Doctor Peyron Lionel Jeffries
Kay Jeanette Sterke
Director Vincente Minnelli
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-MayerGuidance: Mild Violence. Available on: video and DVD