From the novel of the same name by Howard Fast
A slave leads an almost successful revolt against the Roman Empire.
I love this movie so much. It’s got a great story, spends a lot of time on the characters (which is kind of hard on the viewer, since this is one of those movies where just about everyone dies), and really lovely cinematogaphy (which is one of the four Oscars this movie won.). Three’s lots of Roman pomp and a pretty darn good scene with the Roman legions deploying for battle. There’s enough action to keep my explodo-loving brain happy, but enough character development to engage me as well.
Aaand…there are so many more things to talk about relating to this movie, I’m just going to hit the high points:
- As you can see, this is an Otter Family Favorite Movie. Both Mr. Otter and I have seen it many times and love it.
- The cast is amazing: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, and Tony Curtis, to name just a few. Not to mention being directed by Stanley Kubrick, who took over from the original director; evidently the first scene, in the mines, is all that remains of the footage Anhony Mann directed
- Fun fact: the mine scenes in the beginning were shot in Ryan, a mining area near Dante’s View in Death Valley..
- This was the movie that finally ended the Hollywood Blacklist, when Kirk Douglas insisted on giving Dalton Trumbo credit for writing it (after being blacklisted, Trumbo had written a ton of movie screenplays, two of which had won Oscars, but all had been credited to pseudonyms)
- The book was excellent as well, but very differently structured from the movie. Howard Fast, himself a victim of the blacklist, wrote it while serving time in prison for contempt of Congress.
- There is a scene in the middle of the film that is pretty tame now but at the time was cut for being waaaay too suggestive; when the original version was restored, the film existed but not the soundtrack for that part. Tony Curtis rerecorded his lines, but Olivier was dead, so Anthony Perkins did a really fabulous job of putting his Olivier on.
If you haven’t seen this excellent classic movie, DO IT NOW. Trust the Otter, you won’t regret it.