- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Why Spartacus resonates.
Saw Spartacus the year before I enlisted in the military, volunteering to fight for freedom as Spartacus did. Most of the film is historically accurate. It made Kubrick's reputation, freeing him to become one of the most influential directors of the last half of the 20th century. It's the only film the British masters Olivier and Laughton ever acted in together. The only Kubrick film yielding an actor's Oscar, for Peter Ustinov. When combat veteran President-elect Kennedy crossed Legion picket lines to see it, the film broke the Hollywood blacklist, which persecuted artistic idealists temporarily distraught with capitalism during the Great Depression, who naively joined communist front organizations and whose lives were ruined years later for refusing to snitch on their friends to Joe McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee. Many family breadwinners were ruined, suicides resulted. Dalton Trumbo, once Hollywood's highest paid writer, went to Federal prison and whose blacklist was intended for life, won two Oscars under assumed names and poured his heart into the SPARTACUS screenplay - and WWII Navy vet Kirk Douglas gave him the screenplay credit. WWII draft dodger John Wayne's ALAMO film was competing for best picture, so Hedda Hopper helped the short-memoried Legion all advocate banning the film from the Oscars, a movie that hired all 186 union stuntmen for production, padded their forces with off-season USC & UCLA football players, then hired the Spanish Army to march like the Roman one. The film has more heart, mind and passion than most films today, a great love story, stirring heroism and idealism, on AFI's 100 best film lists, and is one I watch at least every year. Spike Lee once thought his favorite for making the definitive statement on slavery. The restoration is great. it's flawed, but head and shoulders above any other spear and sandal epic.
No I'm Spartacus
Wow long winded movie and long winded debate here at TCM. Come on Guys the film is 56 years old! Not sure it will change anyone's views on capitalism at this point. Now to the analysis of the movie, many good scenes but just does not quite get there as a masterpiece of cinema. But I agree with most critics, that the first hour up to the slave revolt is the best. Rest of the movie, a bit draggy. Too many ideas and not enough focus.One amusing aspect of casting, the British actors play many of the patrician Romans and with Jean Simmons' wonderful exception, the ancient slaves look like they came from a revival of Guys and Dolls. Still a fun epic movie and thoughtful, and moving in parts. I especially like the performances of Charles Laughton, Ustinov, and Woody Strode. And Jean Simmons lovely and talented as always.Give the film a break from polemical analysis. A long time ago. The good remains, the controversy is or should be dust.
I Just Don't Understand---
. Let me start by identifying myself, I am a conservative catholic and take pride in being so. I ask why the Hollywood community has to use deception in promoting liberal progressive thought in there film making and at the same time use the pretense of sympathetic feelings for those believes the same and owning up to there "real" political belief, even if they are communist in nature. This America and even though I meet people who have negative feelings toward conservative Catholicism, I except there disdain, I'm an adult not a child. With all the power the Hollywood community have, they also have the power and can persuade with a farther reach then the average citizen but not if they hide behind there true beliefs and take no pride in them.
"If It Smells---"
- J. D. Jitters
I will keep it short, If it smells like a commie, looks like a commie----. Inspiring figure to revolutionary's every where, Spartacus, novel by leftist writer, Howard Fast found it's way into Kirk Douglas hands.
The brilliance of this movie & others like it is the superb enactment of a story/event in a decade when the average & above American adult did not research the background, beliefs, associations, or nature of the motion- image industry's & its people' s 100 year history the way some of us do now. Morals, lessons, messages & themes of stories/events as told by any theatre is the first factor under review in an organized society (now known as dictatorships, monarchies, religious cults,shiekdoms, republics,etc.). Within the current Olig/Pluto /Dem-ocracy (dictatorship of the proletariat), the guiding principle is liberty-equality-fraternity as defined by the alien mentality that possesses the 1st 2 prefixes & with which 80% ( or -) of the 3rd prefix identifies with & relates to as leftist, liberal, or christian. Douglas' Sparticus was heroically played to reinforce in our heads the evil of slavery in our modern, whatever disciety. The Crucified admonished slaves to serve their masters honorably & for masters to treat their slaves similarly in the Roman Empire organization. Now that Liberty- equality- fraternity are enforced by law & sin embodies the spirit of exclusivity and/ or harm to animals & earth ( excepting the powers that be), Christ's words are null & void having never advocated the demolition of societal rank. We are subverted beyond our wildest dreams while living, laughing & loving!
"The Workers Paradise"
Ahh DdM, we could go on for ever disagreeing with one another. The Left has always claimed they were for the disenfranchised but if you pay close attention you can see through there deception, "The Workers Paradise" is a perfect example, East Berlin, the Old Soviet Union, Cuba, etc., what they preach they certainly do not practice. I have no hard feelings for your beliefs, you are certainly entitled to them that's what make America great. I am sorry if in some way I miss-spelled your name. Everything smelled commie as far the film Spartacus goes and all who were involved in it's making.
Still missing the point
Okay Minky you have once again missed the point (as well as managing to misspell my name). Your dislike and mistrust of liberals has nothing to do with the reviewing of the film Spartacus. Nor does it have anything to do with the content of the film. Disparage if you must the politics of the star/producer, director and the screenwriter. But to label a film which condemns slavery, opposes dictatorship, while championing the rights of the individual to self determination as anti-american is still illogical. Just as your example of Sinatra and the Kennedys fails miserably to support your claim that all conservatives have been blacklisted in Hollywood. Fact, most politicians are raging hypocrites when it comes to getting re-elected no matter what party they are with. And again that fact has nothing to do with the content of the film Spartacus.
Sammy Davis Jr.
Mr. DiMille: I will try one more time. Today's liberal is like Frank Sinatra, Sinatra thought by champing Sammy Davis Jr. that would prove his liberalism. One token black was his answer. Then came John Kennedy's run for office of president and all the celebrations that followed with orders that it was time to hide Sammy because the south might resent there closeness to a black entertainer. Liberals are proud of there believes unless it interferes with there real wants. Sammy was put on the back burner. Sinatra learned right after he was burnt by Jack Kennedy in that Kennedy thinking only of himself decided to visit Bing Crosby and put off his planed visit to Sinatra, because of Sinatra's shady past with in palling around with known mafia members. What I am saying Liberals are phony to the core. Dean Martin knew all along who the Kennedy's really were and stayed far away from them.
Dear Mickey, Have you ever heard of the saying "Two wrongs don't make a right!"? Blacklisting is wrong no matter whose doing it. And there are many conservatives who are not only working but thriving in Hollywood. Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris just to name a few. As well as many studio executives who are register Republicans and large contributors to the party. More important though is the fact that you missed the whole point of my comments. Namely that making a movie with an anti-slavery theme does not make one a "Commie" or a "raging liberal". Any more than championing the rights of the individual does. Both of which this film does. The Roman Empire while giving us many great cultural advancements was none the less an empire built on slave labor and the conquest and subjugation of other free sovereign nations. That's called dictatorship. How making a film that condemns such practices adds up to being anti-american for you and others posting on this page is beyond basic logic.
Maybe You Haven't Noticed
Dear Mr. DeMille: Maybe you haven't noticed, "black listing in reverse" is now practiced in Hollywood. Ask any conservative who lives there but certainly doesn't work there.
Facts not Fiction
5/17/16I find it interesting that the very people demanding historical accuracy regarding the backstory of the men responsible for making the movie "Spartacus" have gotten so many of their facts wrong regarding Kubrick, Douglas and Trumbo. Yes Dalton Trumbo was accused of being a "Commie" and was subsequently blacklisted, but if you read the transcripts of the McCarthy hearings no one could confirm the accusations. And his accusers were later discredited for giving perjured testimony. As Trumbo himself pointed out he liked making money and being a millionaire much to much to ever become a communist. Was there a youthful flirtation with socialism? Yes, but how many of you would like to have your career damaged yes nearly destroyed by a dumb choice you made as a twenty-something? Mr. Douglas was never accused of being a party member nor did he ever come under suspicion. Mr. Kubrick was too young at the time the hearings took place to even be involved. He didn't even make his first Hollywood film until 1956 after the hearings had ended. McCarthy himself was discredited for making false accusations for publicity purposes, being a raging alcoholic and the hearings he chaired never produced the results he promised of revealing hundreds of communist infiltrators. In fact the list he claimed to have and kept waving in front of the press was in truth his laundry list. (Yes, really, look it up)For those of you claiming that Douglas, Kubrick and Trumbo abused their constitutional rights to free speech, you would do well to check out the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. Slamming the American way of life, since when is making a movie opposed to the institution of slavery (something this country fought a civil war to end) while championing the rights of the individual "anti-american"?
- D. deMille
I find it interesting that the very people demanding historical accuracy regarding the backstory of the men responsible for making the movie "Spartacus" have gotten so many of their facts wrong regarding Kubrick, Douglas and Trumbo. Yes Dalton Trumbo was accused of being a "Commie" and was subsequently blacklisted, but if you read the transcripts of the McCarthy hearings no one could confirm the accusations. And his accusers were later discredited for giving perjured testimony. As Trumbo himself pointed out he liked making money and being a millionaire much to much to ever become a communist. Was there a youthful flirtation with socialism? Yes, but how many of you would like to have your career damaged yes nearly destroyed by a dumb choice you made as a twenty-something? Mr. Douglas was never accused of being party member nor did he ever come under suspicion. Mr. Kubrick was too young at the time the hearings took place to even be involved. He didn't even make his first Hollywood film until 1956 after the hearings had ended. McCarthy himself was discredited for making false accusations for publicity purposes, being a raging alcoholic and the hearings he chaired never produced the results he promised of revealing hundreds of communist infiltrators. In fact the list he claimed to have and kept waving in front of the press was in truth his laundry list. (Yes, really, look it up)For those of you claiming that Douglas, Kubrick and Trumbo abused their constitutional rights to free speech, you would do well to check out the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. Slamming the American way of life, since when is making a movie opposed to the institution of slavery (something this country fought a civil war to end) while championing the rights of the individual "anti-american"?
Where Do I Start?
- J. D. Jitters
One wonders where Mr. Kubrick and Mr. Douglas has been hiding? Did either one of them here of the twenty million Russians killed during Stalin's reign? Do they remember the Berlin wall, where east Berlin citizens were shot for trying to escape the workers paradise? Do they understand that millions of North Koreans are starving to death today. What does it take for the film industry to understand the evils of communism? Yet these same people under the freedom given to them by the Constitution, look upon America with disdain! Pure insanity!
- Michael Whitty
"I am Spartacus...I am Spartacus" said many in the crowd of slaves finally defeated by the Romans. Spartacus, a former slave of Rome, engineered a slave revolt at about 73 B.C. and saw his army grow and grow and defeat the Romans at times. kirk Douglas took production of "Spartacus" and later brought in Stanley kubrick who had directed "Paths of Glory" for Douglas. Following the great "Ben-Hur" was no easy task but "Spartacus" finished winning four Oscars although kubrick would leave for England for the rest of his films. Crassus, played by Laurence Olivier, was the main opponent to Spartacus and finally saved Rome from the slaves at about 71 B.C. The final battle is a big one but Roman might won and while history has it that Spartacus was killed then the movie goes a little farther and shows Spartacus being crucified at the end. An audacious and spectacular film which also saw writer Dalton Trumbo beginning to receive screen credit again thanks to Douglas. Through the 50s Trumbo was blacklisted for his communist sympathies but would write under other names and also won two Oscars for "Roman Holiday" in 1953 and "The Brave One" in 1956. He was that good a writer and "Spartacus" was a memorable film.
Overall-3/5Lead Performers-3/5Supporting Cast-4/5Director-5/5Score-4/5Titles-3/5Screenplay-2/5Cinematography-4/5Importance-3/5Recommendation for fans of the genre-3/5
THE Sword and Sandal epic?
For younger audiences, it may be GLADIATOR or TROY but for us baby boomers the answer can ONLY be SPARTACUS!Stellar cast, compelling story and when they say "Cast of Thousands" they mean thousands of REAL PEOPLE. Not CGI gladiators, slaves & centurions!
No "Braveheart" without "Spartacus"
- Jeff Boston
"Spartacus" is a good movie that shall forever exist in the shadow of the great "Ben-Hur." A similar epic released shortly after the Heston classic won Best Picture, it plays second fiddle in terms of pageantry, pluck, and purpose. Speaking of fiddle, I enjoyed Ustinov's Batiatus even more than his Nero (in "Quo Vadis") nine years earlier.
Defines Classic Epic(1960)
Spartacus defines the term "Classic Epic. Filmed in Technirama it is Glorius in scale and depth. Spartacus(Kirk Douglas) is a slave that escapes the clutches of Rome , battles them for his life and freedom only to be recaptured. Varinia(Jean Simmons) another escaped slave is the female romantic counterpart.Crassus (Lawrence Olivier) is Spartacus' main combatant. Armed with some of Romes finest Legions he is on a mission to erase the legacy of Spartacus. Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis all give fine performances that the sum is greater than the whole. Just Magnificent ! 5 stars out of 5. One of the Greatest Films ever made !
Last Refuge Of a Scoundrel
I guess you can say Hedda Hopper sumed it up, "A book written by a commie and a screen script written by a commie". We also have Kubrick who directed "Paths Of Glory" an anti-war film with that famous line: "Patriotism, the last refuge of a scoundrel". Please, America be ashamed for being patriotic. Our service men who fought and died for and because of there patriotic duty should be looked on with disdain. It is because of there blood shed that this fim was made under the free speech clause of the Constitution. Isn't amazing how screwed up Hollywood is when it comes to politics.
Small parts big impact
- O Cutshaw
Good film, has flaws. But I have always remembered the small but significant role of Woody Strode. His death give this film some emotional impact that words cannot quite express. The ruthless way Olivier kills him with a knife is such an eloquent depiction of Roman power and Roman cruelty.Ustinov is also magnificent. Witty corrupt.
- Dennis Bradley
Kirk Douglas, (now an American legend) provided us with one of the few first epic portrayals of the enslavement rebellion, created by the Roman Empire. Thus leading the way for such magnificent films as The Fall of the Roman Empire, Barabbus, Julius Caesar (1970) and even more recently, Gladiator. The painstaking bravery and complete determination to bring this magnificent film to fruition by Mr.Douglas is nothing short of revolutionary! Despite the fact of controversy and possible reprobation could ruin his career and reputation, he still forged through and delivered one of the grandest movie splendors of the '60's. One of my personal top 10 of all time, Spartacus still plays today as thrilling and captivating as it did when released over 60 years ago! Thank you to Kirk Douglas, Stanley Kubrick, all the cast & crew and particularly Mr. Dalton Trumbo for giving us a film classic that will continue to delight audiences for years to come!!
When writing a review it matters not weather you are eductated or uneducated, that includes weather one has the ability to either spell or write a complete sentence. Freedom of expression comes in all forms including that of the educated and to those who are without an education, it is truly a part of our Constitutional rights, unlike living in a communist state. Thank God.
Keep politics out of films?
If one want's politics kept out of reviews, then keep communiist influence out of films. There is an organization called "spartacus League", a marxist revoltionary movement---coincidence? I don't think so. As far as spelling errors are concerned blame the public school system. I enjoy the pointing out Hollywood's weakness as far as politics are concerned. Keep up the good work!
Kirk Douglas Classic
One of the best movies done by Kirk Douglas, and lets not forget about Tony Curtis and all the others. Did you see George Kennedy?
Keep politics off the reviews!
I STRONGLY object to the inclusion of politics in the reviews of this film, particularly by people who cannot even spell or write a complete sentence. (It shows ignorance!) These reviews are about the films and the casts, not your personal political affiliations.The above said, this is a truly spectacular film with outstanding performances, particularly by Lawrence Olivier and Peter Ustinov. The film is beautiful and great kudos belong to the cinematographer, Russell Metty, who went through a lot to get such magnificent footage. He justifiably won the Academy Award for his efforts. One cannot review this film without commenting on Kirk Douglas' performance. There are moments in this film when his performance is nothing short of brilliant; however, too often he lapses into that jaw-setting, teeth-clenching trademark of his and ruins the scene. Much of this film's basis is taken from ancient writings and we do know that a slave named Spartacus actually existed and he did lead a slave rebellion and became a fierce warrior. I admire Kirk Douglas immensely for bringing this story to the big screen. It was longing to be told and Mr. Douglas deserves a lot of praise for telling it so well.
One has to question the word "courage" for hiring black listed writers, actors, etc. In Hollywood you are not condemened for hiring the extreme left but praised instead. Real courage comes from hiring a conservative writer or actor, etc. Actually, we have blacklisting in reverse today in Hollywood, from the same cry babies who condemned it in the first place. hypocrisy at it's best.
Great movie, awful TCM print
- Biff Baxter
Stanley Kubrick must be spinning in his grave over the seriously deteriorated "Spartacus" print TCM broadcasts (ditto for his "2001: A Space Odyssey"). The colors are bleached, the images fuzzy, skin tones a sickly green, blemishes on every frame of battered celluloid. It's downright disprespectful to an artist whose very trademark was an obsessive insistence on visual perfection. When one considers that the film was painstakingly, meticulously restored to the pristine state of its original master negative 20 years ago, there is no excuse for TCM to still be airing the washed-out, unwatchable version it purchased in the late '80s. Do the right thing, TCM, and show the majestic restoration, even if you have to spring for a few extra bucks.
Dalton Trumbo's Deserved Credit
- Bruce Reber
I read the previous review, and I assume that "Communist friends" is a reference to Dalton Trumbo, one of Hollywood's finest screenwriters who became one of the most visible casualties of McCarthyism in the 50's. Trumbo was blacklisted when he refused to name names before HUAC, but continued to write under various pseudonyms and having others take credit for his work. Trumbo was hired by Kirk Douglas to write the screenplay for the 1960 epic "Spartacus", and Douglas's insistance that Trumbo receive on-screen credit was instrumental in breaking the Blacklist and making possible for other blacklisted actors, writers and directors to start working in Hollywood again. Trumbo was one "friend"; I don't know who the others were. Besides, HUAC's real agenda was to purge Hollywood of liberals and anyone with leftist leanings, although in most cases there was no proof of any one of them actually being a Communist. Anyway, "Spartacus" is a spectacular and entertaining film about slave and gladiator Spartacus leading a revolt against Rome, with a superb cast (Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov and many others). The first great epic of the 60's, it set the stage for "King of Kings", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Fall of the Roman Empire", etc.
God bless our communist friends in Hollywood
- Jack The Hat
Where do I start, well lets say congradulations to Mr. Kubrick and Mr. Duglas for the return of there Hollywood communist friends (black listed)as being a part of this film. Did you know that there is a communist organization called "Spartacus". The love of communision in Hollywood is very much like a religion. It's mentioned that Mr. Kubrick and Mr. Duglas were courgeous in bringing back there black listed friends well, what would have been more courgeous is to see a film coming out of Hollywood that promotes the American way?
- ALEXANDER PEREZ
Spartacus is one of my all time favorite movies. when my mother and i first saw it, my mother cried at the ending scene where Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) is dying crucified and Varinia (Jean Simmons) presents him their son, born into freedom like Spartacus had wished. the film truly shows Spartacus in a way he really must've been: a strong, caring leader of a Slave revolt in 73 B.C., and a martyr who would die so that others might live (a fine example being the scene where he is forced to fight Antoninus, played by Tony Curtis). the film was quite a different epic from the other ones at the time, introducing great spectacle while balancing a powerful human story. ALL the actors do a fine job, Kirk Douglas at his best playing the passionate gladiator rebel, the beautiful Jean Simmons making a fine Varinia, Laurence Olivier's Crassus being a cruel, power hungry general bent on crushing Spartacus and his slave rebellion, both Peter Ustinov and Charles Laughton balancing humor and seriousness quite well, and John Gavin a young Julius Ceasar.
I am Spartacus!
Great movie! Kirk Douglas does a fantastic job as Spartacus. It is historically accurate and great to any Roman history buff.
BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY
I FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS MOVIE AS YOUNG GIRL BECAUSE OF THE TRUE LOVE THAT IS FELT THROUGH THE WHOLE MOVIE BETWEEN JEAN SIMMONS AND KIRK DOUGLAS...NO MATTER WHAT THEY WENT THROUGH THERE WAS THAT SPECIAL BOND AND I ALSO LOVED THE RELIGIOUS ASPECT OF THIS MOVIE.I NEVER HAVE WATCHED IT AND NOT CRIED AT THE END ITS LIKE SEEING IT THE FIRST TIME EVERY TIME..I WASN'T SURPRISED WHEN I HEARD MICHAEL DOUGLAS, KIRK'S SON, SAY THATS HIS FAVORITE MOVIE HIS DAD DOES BECAUSE ITS MINE TOO.