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Quo Vadis (1951)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, History | 25 December 1951 (USA)
Trailer
1:47 | Trailer

On TV

Airs Thu. Jan. 17, 8:00 PM on TCM

ON DISC
Fierce Roman commander Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) becomes infatuated with beautiful Christian hostage Lygia (Deborah Kerr) and begins questioning the tyrannical leadership of the despot Emperor Nero (Sir Peter Ustinov).

Directors:

Mervyn LeRoy, Anthony Mann (uncredited)

Writers:

John Lee Mahin (screen play), S.N. Behrman (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Taylor ... Marcus Vinicius
Deborah Kerr ... Lygia
Leo Genn ... Petronius
Peter Ustinov ... Nero
Patricia Laffan ... Poppaea
Finlay Currie ... Peter
Abraham Sofaer ... Paul
Marina Berti ... Eunice
Buddy Baer ... Ursus
Felix Aylmer ... Plautius
Nora Swinburne ... Pomponia
Ralph Truman Ralph Truman ... Tigellinus
Norman Wooland Norman Wooland ... Nerva
Peter Miles Peter Miles ... Nazarius
Geoffrey Dunn Geoffrey Dunn ... Terpnos
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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Greatest Spectacle Ever Filmed...Three Triumphant Hours of Unforgettable Thrills! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Qvo Vadis See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,623,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$24,291,740

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$45,860,660
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Claude Rains and Fredric March were considered for the part of Petronius. See more »

Goofs

Vinicius is described as both a victorious Military Commander and a Military Tribune. In fact, a Military Tribune was a junior staff officer in his mid 20's. There were typically 10 in every Legion of 6,000 men. They were basically aids to the Legion's C.O., the Legate. See more »

Quotes

Emperor Nero: Poppaea, one woman shouldn't judge another. She hasn't the glands for it. Ha-ha!
See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Featured in Biography: Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Big One!
29 December 2003 | by GooperSee all my reviews

It is a great pleasure to see so many comments here that are enthusiastic about 'Quo Vadis'. I just saw it again last night after about 15 years, and I marvelled at what a high quality spectacle it is - better than ever, in fact.

In his autobiography, 'Take One', Mervyn LeRoy has some great stories about 'Quo Vadis'. Such as: while filming one of the really big crowd scenes, a voice pipes up from the extras: 'Hey Moy-vin!', and it's Jack Benny. And in a scene right out of one of his pictures, when 'Quo Vadis' is screened in San Francisco, and LeRoy is present, the theatre happens to be right near the corner where the big-time director once sold papers as a kid. He revisits the corner after the screening and sheds a few tears. LeRoy was an extra in C.B. DeMille's first 'Ten Commandments', so the desire to deliver something DeMillian was realized at last, and with smashing success.

We all agree on Peter Ustinov's ingenious performance, so all I need to add is that in his own autobiography, 'Dear Me', Sir Peter's recollections of the filming are as wonderful as his performance.

Whatever his capabilities as an actor, I always thought that Bob Taylor's performance was pretty darn good, and appropriate, too: what high-ranking Roman officer wouldn't be pompous? In any case, the story is much larger than Marcus' character, and the story comes to dominate the picture.

It is indeed a pity that the excellent Rozsa score wasn't handled by the Warners sound department, where it would have been been presented to full effect Much of its impact is squandered by its being kept in the background. I don't think Merv LeRoy had so much to do with this decision, as his alma mater was Warners (try watching 'Anthony Adverse'!) It seems that it was probably MGM policy. With sensitivity, a DVD version could perhaps offer the picture with a 'sweetened' soundtrack.

The quality of the camera work by solid professionals Bob Surtees (later MGM's UltraPanavision 70 specialist) and Wm V. Skall (his work on 'The Silver Chalice' was outstanding) really cannot be overstated.

Along with the delights of Sir Peter's performance, I still get choked up when noble Buddy Baer takes on that bull, and when Marina Berti's character displays so much love and devotion to Leo Genn's. Genn is right up there with James Mason in quality, and indeed, Mason may have taken a few pointers from Genn's performance for his own acting in subsequent epics. Patricia Laffan is decadently sexy without being campy.

Trivia: scenes for the burning of Rome were sensibly used in MGM's 'The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao' and 'Atlantis, The Lost Continent' to great effect.

It is a credit to Merv LeRoy for allowing great actors like Peter Ustinov and Leo Genn to 'do their thing'.

'Quo Vadis' is a classic: a stunning spectacle, intelligent, good script, fine performances by practically everybody, and it remains long in the memory, and holds up well indeed.


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