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The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama | 18 October 1935 (USA)
In the doomed Roman city, a gentle blacksmith becomes a corrupt gladiator, while his son leans toward Christianity.

Directors:

Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper (uncredited)

Writers:

James Ashmore Creelman (story), Melville Baker (story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Preston Foster ... Marcus
Alan Hale ... Burbix
Basil Rathbone ... Pontius Pilate
John Wood ... Flavius - as a Man
Louis Calhern ... Prefect (Allus Martius)
David Holt ... Flavius - as a Boy
Dorothy Wilson ... Clodia
Wyrley Birch ... Leaster
Gloria Shea ... Julia
Frank Conroy ... Gaius Tanno
William V. Mong ... Cleon - the Slave Dealer
Murray Kinnell ... Simon - Judean Peasant
Henry Kolker ... Warder
Edward Van Sloan ... Calvus
Zeffie Tilbury ... The Wise Woman
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Storyline

Peaceloving blacksmith Marcus refuses lucrative offers to fight in the arena...until his wife dies for lack of medical care. His life as a gladiator coarsens him, and shady enterprises make him the richest man in Pompeii, while his son Flavius (who met Jesus on a brief visit to Judaea) is as gentle as Marcus once was. The final disaster of Marcus and Flavius's cross purposes is interrupted by the eruption of Vesuvius. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Untergang von Pompeji See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite all the spectacle, the movie was a box-office flop, and required several re-releases, often on a double-bill with She (1935) to earn back its cost. See more »

Goofs

Pontius Pilate committed suicide in Gaul in approximately 38 A.D. and could not have been present in Pompeii during the same year that Mt Vesuvius erupted (79 AD). See more »

Quotes

Gaius Tanno: You remind me of an acrobat in the arena walking on a rope stretched high in the air.
Marcus: Walking on a rope?
Gaius Tanno: Yes, a rope no wider than my thumb.
Marcus: [laughing] I'm not walking on a rope.
Gaius Tanno: Oh, yes, you are. Every poor man is. You think you're balanced nicely, but only money can make you safe. Some little unexpected thing, and you're down... smashed!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The foreword at the beginning of the film is a disclaimer stating that this film is not based on Bulwer-Lytton's novel at all. (It does not use the novel's plot, nor does it have any of the novel's characters.) However, the disclaimer goes on to say that the filmmakers are indebted to him for the description of the destruction of Pompeii. See more »

Alternate Versions

RKO planned to issue a French and a Spanish version of this film, with Preston Foster and Gloria Shea repeating their lines in those languages, but it is not known if those foreign versions were ever made. See more »

Connections

Referenced in An Unfathomable Friendship (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Crossing Paths with Christ
16 June 2013 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In the old Roman Empire city of Pompeii, brawny blacksmith Preston Foster (as Marcus) suffers a great family tragedy. Desperate for money, Mr. Foster reluctantly becomes a gladiator; he is uncomfortable killing defeated opponents, but must make a living. Wracked with guilt, Foster adopts pre-teen David Holt (as young Flavius) after killing his father in a fight. Foster can no longer fight competitively and makes money trading slaves and horses. He eventually becomes very prosperous...

Foster is unaware he is living during the time of Jesus Christ, who has a following. An old woman instructs Foster to take his son to see the "greatest man" in Judea. Foster considers this to be "prophesy." He crosses paths with Christ, but believes the greatest man is more likely the governor of Jerusalem, Basil Rathbone (as Pontius Pilate). Foster begins working with the notorious leader. After the Christian crucifixion, Foster's son grows up to be John Wood (as Flavius) and clashes with his papa...

Other than the ending eruption, "The Last Days of Pompeii" completely re-works the plot (of the original novel by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton). It's a good (perhaps better), Christian-focused revision, though sometimes stodgy in the production. The concept of slavery is changed, which is nice. Original thinking was that the mistreating of slaves was bad; nice people treated them nicely, and bad people treated them badly. Also, Mr. Rathbone's "Pilate" is given more depth in characterization...

God, however, is still in firm control of natural disasters.

****** The Last Days of Pompeii (10/18/35) Ernest B. Schoedsack ~ Preston Foster, John Wood, Basil Rathbone, David Holt


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