I, Claudius (1937)

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The story of the aborted 1937 filming of "I, Claudius", starring Charles Laughton, with all of its surviving footage.

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An adaptation of Robert Graves' 1934 novel, which illustrates the political maneuvering around the fourth emperor of Rome.



Credited cast:
Emlyn Williams ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alan Aynesworth ...
Asiatacus, Senator
John Clements ...
Leonora Corbett ...
Roy Emerton ...
Gina Evans ...
Vestal Virgin
Frank Forbes-Robertson ...
Lupus, captain of the guard
Basil Gill ...
Morland Graham ...
Halotus, master of Livia's household
Everley Gregg ...
Domita, Messalina's mother
Allan Jeayes ...


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Also Known As:

Io, Claudio  »

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


In this unfinished film, Charles Laughton plays the Roman emperor Claudius. In The Sign of the Cross (1932) he played Nero, Claudius' great-nephew, adopted son and successor. See more »


According to "The Epic that Never Was", Director Josef von Sternberg asked the Costume Designer John Armstrong to prepare a briefing on the Vestal Virgins for him. Armstrong reported the factual details on the Virgins, that there were about six of them and that they dressed modestly. Von Sternberg told him that would not do for his picture, and instructed him to prepare sixty extras to be Vestal Virgins, in what appear to be bikinis, and Armstrong also provided each a semi-transparent circular veil to cover themselves. The resulting scene is quite striking and beautiful and fits in well with the film's intended "epic" proportions. But it is historically inaccurate, by order of the director. See more »


Claudius: I only limp with my tongue, and stutter with my leg. Nature never quite finished me.
See more »

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User Reviews

Personal connection with 'The Epic That Never Was'
6 September 1999 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

My father Denis Kavanagh, who had been a stunt flyer in Hollywood in the late Twenties, working on such films as William Wellman's Wings, returned to the UK to help edit I Claudius. As everyone knows the film was never made following a car crash in which Merle Oberon was injured. That's always been the official line anyway. Much has been made of Charles Laughton's inability to get into the part and at the time Korda was having trouble with Prudential Corporation who had invested heavily in London Films following the success of Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). Luckily, I have seen some of the rushes from the film which were tacked together for a BBC documentary in 1965 entitled 'The Epic That Never Was' narrated by Dirk Bogarde. The rushes featured many tantrums on Laughton's part. Korda used to despair of Laughton's insecurities and the editors, so my father told me, had a very difficult time putting anything useable together. In many ways, my father told me, it was a good thing the movie never appeared because it was going nowhere and Merle Oberon's accident was the ideal excuse to cancel the picture. Obviously, Derek Jacobi didn't have so many problems when the BBC made a television series of the book many years later.

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