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 <email@example.com>
Announcements by the MGM publicity department ranged from: "In making this film, MGM feel privileged to add something of permanent value to the cultural treasure house of mankind" to "Ancient Rome is going to the dogs, Robert Taylor is going to the lions, and Peter Ustinov is going crazy!". See more »
While Robert Taylor is making his speech in the arena, the dead bull is now missing. See more »
Lives up to your expectations...Leo Genn and Peter Ustinov steal the acting honors...
Ancient Rome never looked so good--especially in the gorgeous MGM technicolor of 1951. Costumes, sets, photography and music are all of a high order--and all of the performances are competent with two outstanding ones by Leo Genn (Petronius) and Peter Ustinov (Nero). Ustinov reminds me of an overbaked Charles Laughton in some of his mad scenes, but he is a convincing weakling as Nero. Leo Genn has some of the wittiest dialogue and handles his lines with professional ease, his eyes flashing with humor as he pretends to agree with Nero on certain points. Robert Taylor is stalwart in the lead giving his usual dependable performance and Deborah Kerr is lovely (if a bit British in manner) as Lygia.
All the action and excitement you want from a spectacle--the burning of Rome, Christians in the arena thrown to the lions, the triumphal marches accompanied by Miklos Rozsa's mighty score--and scenes with sentimental and religious overtones (sometimes too extended and talky) --all combine to make the kind of lush spectacle MGM knew would be popular at the box-office. Although discriminating critics found fault with certain factors, it won eight Academy Award nominations with Ustinov and Genn both nominated for supporting roles.
Grand scale spectacle--but don't expect anything deep.
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