He began to alternate his physically demanding, swashbuckling roles like "His Majesty O'Keefe,", "The Flame and the Arrow," "Ten Tall Men," and "The Crimson Pirate," which relied on his training as a circus acrobat, with serious dramas opposite more veteran co-stars like Joan Fontaine in "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands,", Shirley Booth in "Come Back, Little Sheba," Anna Magnani in "The Rose Tattoo," and Katharine Hepburn in "The Rainmaker." All the leading ladies were Oscar winners.
Lancaster usually came off second best to these more experienced performers, but he was learning the craft of screen acting from these seasoned players and expanding his dramatic range while maintaining his original fan base. Ultimately Lancaster evolved into a superb screen actor with an Oscar for "Elmer Gantry" and nominations for his two finest performances in "Birdman of Alcatraz" and "Atlantic City." He continued to keep his legion of fans happy with his more boisterous roles like "The Professionals" and "The Scalphunters." I can't think of another actor with that kind of career arc.