In 73 B.C., a Thracian slave leads a revolt at a gladiatorial school run by Lentulus Batiatus (Sir Peter Ustinov). 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 (Charles Laughton) schemes to have Marcus Publius Glabrus (John Dall), 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 (Sir Laurence Olivier) 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
At first, the studio did not want to give the blacklisted openly Communist Dalton Trumbo screen credit for his work. Stanley Kubrick said he would accept the credit. Kirk Douglas later said he was so appalled by Kubrick's attempt to claim credit for someone else's work that he used his clout to make sure Trumbo received his due credit, effectively ending the Hollywood blacklist. Trumbo had already been credited as the writer of Exodus (1960), although a delay caused that movie to be released two months after this one. Trumbo's family publicly disputed Douglas' version of the story, as did Producer Edward Lewis and the children of writer Howard Fast. In any case, the blacklist had been greatly undermined when Cecil B. DeMille hired Edward G. Robinson for The Ten Commandments (1956), reviving Robinson's career after he had been nearly blacklisted for his past political activism. See more »
Antoninus is wearing trousers under his tunic when Tigranes enters the tent saying he arrived on horseback without any slaves. When Spartacus opens the treasure-chest Antoninus is suddenly bare-legged. 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 six main cast members are accompanied by an item that represents their character (a chain, a Roman eagle, a wine jug, a couple of hands - one wielding a snake, and a sword). See more »
The film premiered at 202 minutes. However, the prints from the premiere were lost in the 1970s when Universal threw out all the film's tracks, outtakes, additional prints etc. (This was parallel to 'John Landis'' claim during his work on creating the director's cut of The Blues Brothers). The Criterion Collection has 4 minutes of lost scenes involving the Gracchus subplot:
1.) After the first senatorial meeting scene, Gracchus and Caesar walk around the market discussing the dirty tactic of fishing votes. (Shown in production-still form)
2.) Gracchus commits suicide by slitting his wrist in the bathtub. This occurred immediately after he closes the curtain near the end of the film. Only the audio track was found in the studio vault.
Spartacus (1960) was a director for hire gig for Stanley Kubrick. Kirk Douglas was in a pinch for his next film project. He was making an epic film about a slave in the roman republic who rebels against his masters. Anthony Mann stepped down from the director's chair and Mr. Douglas needed someone to take over. Enters Stanley Kubrick. Although he has little creative input (i.e. script and story wise) he manages to make a compelling movie with his keen eye and directorial abilities.
Filmed in a grand scope and in such great detail, Spartacus is eye candy for fans of epic film making. I can only imagine what the film would have been like if he had total control over the project. Kirk Douglas is the man as Spartacus, Tony Curtis is quite good as his sidekick, Charles Laughton is wise and witty as the elder senator, Peter Ustinov is a hoot in his role as the poor victim of fortunate (and unfortunate) circumstance and Sir Laurence Olivier shows why he was the premier actor of his day as Crassus.
Highly recommended for Kirk Douglas fans and Stanley Kubrick philes.
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