In the town of Pompeii, 79AD, a few weeks before the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius, a Roman lady Hélène meets and falls in love with a young Greek man Lysias. He is betrothed to another ... See full summary »
In Africa, the girl Jill Young trades a baby gorilla with two natives and raises the animal. Twelve years later, the talkative and persuasive promoter Max O'Hara organizes a safari to ... See full summary »
A standard screen B&W prologue during which Lowell Thomas shows how, from the dawn of history, mankind has attempted to create the illusion of depth & movement by artistic, mechanical and ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
If you listen closely during the African scene, you can hear several "words" used by Noble Johnson in King Kong. See more »
The central subplot of the meeting with Jesus is impossible, as Pompeii was destroyed after his death in 79 A.D. Given these dates, Flavius would have been a middle aged man, clearly not the youth in his 20's as portrayed in the film. See more »
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 »
The Last Days Of Pompeii tells the story of a poor blacksmith in ancient Rome who becomes a gladiator and in turn a wealthy man, while his son, upon encountering Jesus, grows up to become a Christian. The film is a spectacle from the middle thirties, after the De Mille manner, which is to say it tries to look big but is actually, upon closer examination, at best mid-sized. RKO didn't really have the bucks to make a film on as lavish a scale as they surely would have wished. The film has many flaws, but also virtues. It was made by the King Kong team of Ernest Schoedsak and Merian Cooper, who were very resourceful gentlemen, highly creative and not at all like other Hollywood film-makers, and therefore the movie has a unique style that's difficult to put into words. The best way I can describe their approach is to say that it's highly individual; its makers had their own way of doing things, and therefore told their their story, or more properly showed it, so that the movie doesn't resemble other films with similar themes. Also on the plus side is its cast, not of thousands, maybe of hundreds; more likely of dozens. In the leading role Preston Foster's anchors the film in a kind of emotional reality. He may not have been the most versatile of actors but he was a most sincere one, and he is excellent in the lead. Also good is Basil Rathbone as Pontius Pilate, surprisingly unhammy. It's a very good movie overall, hokey as hell but always watchable, and in the end, while the spectacle of Mount Vesuvius erupting isn't all it might be, the movie as whole at least holds firm, and I for one was moved by it, not to tears maybe, but in a more modest way, by the smaller, more intimate tale of a good man who comes to his senses too late, at least for redemption in this world.
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