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The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) Poster

Trivia

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Stephen Boyd blamed the massive commercial failure of The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) for ruining his movie career.
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Stephen Boyd replaced Charlton Heston. They co-starred in Ben-Hur (1959).
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Alec Guinness admitted that he never saw more than twenty minutes of the completed film.
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Christopher Plummer was 33 at the time of filming, although his character Commodus became Emperor at the age of 19. Commodus reigned for twelve years.
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At 1312 by 754 feet, the Roman Forum still holds the record as the largest outdoor set ever built for a film.
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Budgeted at about $20 million, this was Paramount's biggest flop of 1964. Its failure cost producer Samuel Bronston his Spanish production facility.
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The film was originally intended to be made after El Cid (1961) and to reunite Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren. The set for the Forum Romanum was being built when Heston rejected the script and expressed an interest in 55 Days at Peking (1963) instead. (Heston got on very badly with Loren on that film and refused to work with her again.) Samuel Bronston immediately ordered that the work on the Forum be stopped and the landscaping and foundation work be adapted for the Peking set. After filming, the Peking set was torn down and replaced by the Forum. If you look carefully, both sets share a very similar topography.
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Kirk Douglas turned the film down, even though he wanted to work with Sophia Loren.
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The symbol Timonides wears around his neck is a staurogram, an early symbol of Christianity. It is the only mention of Christianity in the film.
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Filming the outdoor scenes proved very difficult due to the harsh winter of 1962-63.
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Sophia Loren's salary for the film was $1,000,000. She was the second actress, behind Elizabeth Taylor, to receive that amount for a single film.
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The Price Is Right (1956) gave the role of an extra in this film away as a bonus prize. The winner was a man named Robert Reynolds, and he appears in the background of an arena scene.
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On the flight to Spain, one of the film's writers struck up a conversation with Alec Guinness after seeing him working with the script; the actor stated that he disliked his lines and was rewriting them before starting memorization.
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Jack Palance turned down the role of Ballomar.
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Richard Harris was originally cast as Commodus. He withdrew because of artistic differences with the director. He was later cast as Commodus' father Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator (2000).
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First cinema film of Eric Porter.
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The historian Will Durant was engaged to advise on period detail and plot.
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This was to be the first of three films made by Samuel Bronston written by Philip Yordan - the others being one on the Boxer Rebellion and one on the French Revolution.
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The film was shot in 70mm Ultra Panavision by Robert Krasker.
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Alec Guinness became good friends with Sophia Loren. On an evening out, Loren persuaded Guinness to dance "The Twist" with her, which he did for the first time in his life.
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Sara Montiel was offered the role of Lucilla but turned it down.
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The 'Battle of the Four Armies' involved 8,000 soldiers including 1,200 cavalry and was shot on an undulating plain at Manzanares el Real which allowed large numbers of soldiers to be visible over a long distance.
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The various ancient Rome settings covered 55 acres (220,000 m2).
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The film's reconstruction of the Roman Forum at Las Matas near Madrid, at 400 x 230 meters (1312 x 754 feet) holds the record for the largest outdoor film set.
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This was one of the few Ultra Panavision 70 films not exhibited in Cinerama.
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In later years, Miramax would acquire the US distribution rights to the film. After the founders Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein split with Miramax parent Disney, they formed the Weinstein Company, who currently owns US distribution rights.
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UK distribution rights would pass to PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and subsequently Universal Studios.
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Sarah Miles turned down the role of Lucilla because she didn't want to travel.
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Anthony Mann filmed for 143 days, while Yakima Canutt and Andrew Marton filmed the action scenes simultaneously in 69 days. Filmed in Rome and Madrid, this was one of the most expensive pictures of the 60's costing $16m, or an unofficial $20m.
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Christopher Plummer was amazed at the lavishness and no-expense-spared aspect of the production, a Rolls Royce was at his disposal for the entire duration of the shooting. This was a far cry from Samuel Bronson's previous "King of Kings" where when Jeffrey Hunter and Robert Ryan's car broke down on the way to the sermon on the mount scene, they had to push it to get it started .... In costume!
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Omar Sharif only has four lines despite playing the female lead's husband.
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Mel Ferrer only has nine lines.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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