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The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)

6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 645 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 12 critic

In the doomed Roman city, a gentle blacksmith becomes a corrupt gladiator, while his son leans toward Christianity.

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, (uncredited)

Writers:

(story), (story), 4 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Preston Foster ...
Marcus
...
Burbix
...
John Wood ...
Flavius, as a Man
...
Prefect (Allus Martius)
David Holt ...
Flavius, as a Boy
Dorothy Wilson ...
Clodia
Wyrley Birch ...
Leaster
Gloria Shea ...
Julia
Frank Conroy ...
Gaius Tanno
William V. Mong ...
Cleon, the Slave Dealer
Murray Kinnell ...
Simon, Judean Peasant
Henry Kolker ...
Warder
Edward Van Sloan ...
Calvus
Zeffie Tilbury ...
The Wise Woman
Edit

Storyline

Peaceloving blacksmith Marcus refuses lucrative offers to fight in the arena...until his wife dies for lack of medical care. His life as a gladiator coarsens him, and shady enterprises make him the richest man in Pompeii, while his son Flavius (who met Jesus on a brief visit to Judaea) is as gentle as Marcus once was. The final disaster of Marcus and Flavius's cross purposes is interrupted by the eruption of Vesuvius. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 October 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Untergang von Pompeji  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Much of the music in the battle scenes and the final cataclysm is taken directly from King Kong. See more »

Goofs

Pontius Pilate committed suicide in Gaul in approximately 38 A.D. and could not have been present in Pompeii during the same year that Mt Vesuvius erupted (79 AD). See more »

Quotes

Pontius Pilate: [carelessly, after Marcus has thanked him for a payment] What have I done/
[Suddenly stricken with guilt]
Pontius Pilate: What have I done?
Marcus: Excellency!
Pontius Pilate: Forgive me. I am not myself. Just now I have been forced to condemn a Man. Poor Man, I found no fault in Him. But I must try to keep the peace.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The foreword at the beginning of the film is a disclaimer stating that this film is not based on Bulwer-Lytton's novel at all. (It does not use the novel's plot, nor does it have any of the novel's characters.) However, the disclaimer goes on to say that the filmmakers are indebted to him for the description of the destruction of Pompeii. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Malèna (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Features music from the following films:
King Kong (1933)
The Son of Kong (1933)
She (1935)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
DeMille Like Film For RKO
2 June 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The team that produced King Kong for RKO Pictures, writer Meriam C. Cooper and director Ernest B. Schoedsack, decided to emulate Cecil B. DeMille in giving us The Last Days Of Pompeii. It's not a bad film, but it nearly bankrupted RKO so prohibitive was the cost for that small studio.

The film bears a distinct resemblance to DeMille's eye filling, but now incredibly campy The Sign Of The Cross. Our protagonist here is Preston Foster who plays Marcus the Blacksmith, but before the film is done goes through more reinventions of character than you would find in good and bad Russian literature. As a content, but happy blacksmith a bit of good fortune has him and wife celebrating. But she's accidentally injured and dies for lack of medical care, not that medical care was all that good back in those days to begin with. Foster decides that all that matters in life is the money you can accumulate for a rainy day. Foster is constantly reassessing life throughout the film.

Foster gets to go to Judea and is on the scene of the crucifixion and before that has Jesus heal his adopted son David Holt who grows up to be John Wood. Foster also meets Basil Rathbone as Pontius Pilate who also does some major reassessing after presiding over the trial of Jesus.

If the Oscar for Special Effects was in existence in 1935 it would have been interesting to see either The Last Days Of Pompeii or Mutiny On The Bounty would have won the award. Those scenes of the volcanic eruption of Versuvius are what guaranteed this film would not show a profit. They do rival what DeMille was capable of, but DeMille had a far bigger studio and more financial security in Paramount.

Also in the cast are Louis Calhern as the Roman consul and Alan Hale as Foster's number two man. They give their usual good performances.

As for RKO Studios and Preston Foster, they got some Oscar recognition for another film that Foster did for them that year. It was the low budget, but incredibly powerful Irish story, The Informer where Victor McLaglen won for Best Actor. A much better film than The Last Days Of Pompeii.

Still the spectacle of this film can still awe you, even on the small screen.


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