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Quo Vadis (1951)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 25 December 1951 (USA)
A fierce Roman commander becomes infatuated with a beautiful Christian hostage and begins questioning the tyrannical leadership of the despot Emperor Nero.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Nora Swinburne ...
Ralph Truman ...
Norman Wooland ...
Peter Miles ...
Geoffrey Dunn ...
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Storyline

Returning to Rome after three years in the field, General Marcus Vinicius meets Lygia and falls in love with her, though as a Christian she wants nothing to do with a warrior. Though she grew up Roman, the adopted daughter of a retired general, Lygia is technically a hostage of Rome. Marcus gets Emperor Nero to give her to him for services rendered but finds himself succumbing gradually to her Christian faith. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Colossal [Quo Vadis] See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 December 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Qvo Vadis  »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,623,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One immediate problem encountered with the lions was that when they were released from their cages, they found the arena so hot they'd immediately retreat back into their cages under the stands. Director Mervyn LeRoy overcame this problem by having several costumes stuffed with raw meat and strewn around the ground. This made them appear to audiences to be "people", and the raw meat attracted the lions, who "attacked" and devoured them. See more »

Goofs

At the time of Nero, the Vatican was home to a circus, not an apocalyptic cesspit as portrayed in the film. Scholars believe that Peter was most likely martyred as side entertainment during a chariot race, or similar event. See more »

Quotes

Vinicius: [Seeing the mighty Ursus for the first time] Why, with one arm strapped you could kill fifty Nubians in an hour.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Save the Tiger (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Don't Expect Subtlety
6 March 2006 | by (Berkeley, CA, USA) – See all my reviews

This movie has its virtues, but subtlety is not among them. It opens with a narrator telling us what to think about the story we're about to see, and closes with a hymn sung over the end credits. In between Peter Ustinov plays Nero, and we know he must be mad because he pouts and rolls his eyes and chews every carpet in sight. Was this performance the inspiration for Jennifer Saunder's Eddy on ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS? Watch Nero's blubbering tantrum after he reads Petronius's letter, and you'll see what I mean.

The movie is visually sumptuous and (at least until the last hour or so) pretty entertaining, but every time the script diverges from the novel to engineer "big" Hollywood moments — Peter orating from the stands of the Colosseum, the climactic palace revolution, etc. — the action descends into melodrama and the acting seems very dated. The film gets preachier as it goes along, which is unfortunate; the filmmakers don't seem confident that the images and situations can speak for themselves, so the message is shouted at the audience: Nero bad, Christians good! Well, yes, but because the prudish 1950s film-making won't show the Christians actually suffering as they're crucified (they sing hymns and look heavenward), there's no real emotional involvement. We're told what to think, but we're not made to feel anything.

Two other versions, the 2001 Polish television series and the 1985 Italian mini-series — truly profound productions that capture the dark genius of Sienkiewicz's novel (and the terror of Nero's reign)— are both so vastly superior that they can't even be compared to this campy Hollywood extravaganza.


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