A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.
Based on Kubrick's pictorial for Look Magazine (January 18, 1949) entitled "Prizefighter," "Day Of The Fight" tells of a day in the life of a middleweight Irish boxer named Walter Cartier, ... See full summary »
In 73 BCE, a Thracian slave leads a revolt at a gladiatorial school run by Lentulus Batiatus. The uprising soon spreads across the Italian Peninsula involving thousand of slaves. The plan is to acquire sufficient funds to acquire ships from Silesian pirates who could then transport them to other lands from Brandisium in the south. The Roman Senator Gracchus schemes to have Marcus Publius Glabrus, Commander of the garrison of Rome, lead an army against the slaves who are living on Vesuvius. When Glabrus is defeated his mentor, Senator and General Marcus Licinius Crassus is greatly embarrassed and leads his own army against the slaves. Spartacus and the thousands of freed slaves successfully make their way to Brandisium only to find that the Silesians have abandoned them. They then turn north and must face the might of Rome. Written by
Thirty years after filming, Jean Simmons met the baby she held in this film, who now works in the film industry as a stuntwoman. See more »
The trainer blows a pea-whistle to call in the slaves. The first pea-whistle wasn't invented until the 19th century, although the Romans are known to use other whistles on board slave-galleys in order to keep the correct pace. See more »
In the last century before the birth of the new faith called Christianity, which was destined to overthrow the pagan tyranny of Rome and bring about a new society, the Roman Republic stood at the very center of the civilized world. "Of all things fairest," sang the poet, "first among cities and home of the gods is golden Rome." Yet, even at the zenith of her pride and power, the Republic lay fatally stricken with a disease called human slavery. The age of the dictator was at hand, ...
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The opening titles appear in a montage of silhouetted Roman sculptures and tablets, which according to title designer Saul Bass is meant to evoke the strength and power of the Roman Empire. The montage ends with a zoom into the eye of a crumbling Roman bust, which hints at the Empire's coming decline and fall. See more »
If "epic" equates with "tedium" then this is indeed a classic of the genre. Every so often there's a shot that reminds you that Kubrick was involved - for example, a breathtaking long shot against an amazing sky in which Spartacus carries his wife on horseback from one side of the screen to the other across the ridge of a hill - but most of the time the entire enterprise is wallowing in an over-emotionalism that renders it mostly difficult and usually impossible for the audience - well, this audience, at least - to feel anything at all.
The very guilty party is Kirk Douglas. There is a scene towards the end of the film when he is addressing his slave army, and the scene alternates with Olivier addressing Rome: the difference in quality is palpable. Poor old Douglas doesn't have a hope, he is so greatly outclassed. Now, I have seen Douglas be very good indeed: he is excellent in Wilder's "Ace in the Hole", to name just one of his movies, so I'm not an unqualified loather of his work. It's just that here, where he was apparently producer as well as star, we have a film that was made according to his taste, and his taste is lousy. There are good moments, but he's rarely in them: they feature Olivier, Laughton, Ustinov and Lom. The wonderful Jean Simmons copes pretty well with her poorly-written part. The early fight sequences in the gladiator training camp are good too, and promised better things to come, a promise sadly unfulfilled. As we discovered in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, too many battle scenes make for emotional numbness. Which brings me to Alex North's score, to which the same applies: there's just too much of it, and so much of it the same.
The epic movie as a genre is, I'll admit, something I find very hard to take. It generally requires you to believe in unflawed heroism, which I find an uncomfortable, nigh-on dangerous idea. In the case of Spartacus, this is somewhat redeemed by the film's reaching for a tragic ending, and it is here that Douglas' performance begins, far too late, to turn into something to which one can relate. In his climactic fight with Curtis (a star actor strangely wasted in this film) the impossibility of Spartacus' position gives the actor something to chew on other than the scenery, and the outcome is the kind of emotion sadly lacking elsewhere. The same is I don't think quite true of the final scene between Douglas and Simmons: "The Life of Brian" has perhaps intervened too powerfully for such a scene ever to be truly poignant again. But Simmons and Douglas try very hard to make it happen. Unsurprisingly, it's when the intervention comes of Ustinov's all-too-human, hitherto comic character that the scene starts to mean something. If you can spare the hours of your life to watch this kind of thing, then fine. But having sat through it myself now, I honestly think you'd be better off walking in the park.
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