Returning to Rome after three years in the field, General Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) meets Lygia (Deborah Kerr) 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 (Sir Peter Ustinov) to give her to him for services rendered, but finds himself succumbing gradually to her Christian faith.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
Submitted to the British Board of Film Censors on 22 January 1952 and passed with an "X" certificate for adults only, much to the dismay of M-G-M who were hoping that their most expensive film to date would reach maximum audiences. The London premiere took place three days later and played simultaneously at the Carlton and Ritz cinemas, running for 13 weeks and 69 weeks respectively. When the film finally closed at the Ritz on 20 May 1953, The Times was still advertising it as an "X." In the meantime, M-G-M had been approaching local authorities to try to get the film re-classified for the "road show" tour at higher prices, (much the same way that Columbia tried to get The Wild One (1953) re-certified by local authorities to overturn the BBFC decision). M-G-M were successful in Bolton, Cardiff, Coventry, Liverpool, Swansea and Walsall where Quo Vadis was passed with a local "A" certificate so accompanied children could be admitted. The advertisements at each location made clear that "we guarantee that this film is exactly the same as that shown in London." Aberdeen went even further. According to the ads in the local Evening Express, "Aberdeen magistrates have granted permission for Quo Vadis to be universally shown," which seemed to indicate certificate "U" for all ages accompanied or not. For the general release at normal prices (starting at Weston-super-Mare on 26 July 1953), M-G-M returned the film to the censor with 453 feet (about five minutes) removed, mainly lions chomping Christians. Re-certified on 15 July 1953 as an "A," this was the abridged version seen by most of the British public. See more »
At the beginning, two Generals are seen arriving at Rome by chariot.The Roman Army of the 1st Centuary AD did not use chariots. See more »
This is the Appian Way, the most famous road that leads to Rome, as all roads lead to Rome. On this road march her conquering legions. Imperial Rome is the center of the empire, the undisputed master of the world. But with this power inevitably comes corruption. No man is sure of his life, the individual is at the mercy of the state, murder replaces justice. Rulers of conquered nations surrender their helpless subjects to bondage. High and low alike become Roman slaves, Roman hostages. There is...
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The DVD release restores the original overture and exit music, which, up until that point, was only heard in the original roadshow release and in the 1964 roadshow re-release. 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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