Spartacus


3h 4m 1960
Spartacus

Brief Synopsis

The rebellious Thracian Spartacus, born and raised a slave, is sold to Gladiator trainer Batiatus. After weeks of being trained to kill for the arena, Spartacus turns on his owners and leads the other slaves in rebellion. As the rebels move from town to town, their numbers swell as escaped slaves join their ranks. Under the leadership of Spartacus, they make their way to southern Italy, where they will cross the sea and return to their homes. Meanwhile, in Rome, the slave revolt has become a deciding factor in the power struggle between two senators: the republican Gracchus and the militarist Crassus, each of whom sees the fortunes of the rebellion as the key to his own rise to power or humiliating defeat. As the two statesmen attempt to aid, hinder and manipulate the rebels for their own benefit, Spartacus and his followers press on toward freedom.

Film Details

Genre
Action
Historical
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 1960
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 22 Sep 1960; Chicago, IL opening; 13 Oct 1960; Los Angeles opening: 19 Oct 1960; Boston, MA opening: 27 Oct 1960
Production Company
Bryna Productions, Inc.; Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Chatsworth, California, United States; Death Valley, California, United States; Los Angeles, California, United States; San Simeon--Hearst Castle, California, United States; St. George, Utah, United States; Arizona, United States; Italy; Spain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 4m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Dolby SR (35 mm prin
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Synopsis

The slaves of ancient Rome revolt and are quashed.

Cast

Kirk Douglas

Spartacus

Laurence Olivier

[Marcus Licinius] Crassus

Jean Simmons

Varinia

Charles Laughton

Gracchus

Peter Ustinov

Batiatus

John Gavin

Julius Caesar

Nina Foch

Helena

John Ireland

Crixus

Herbert Lom

Tigranes

John Dall

Marcus Glabrus

Charles Mcgraw

Marcellus

Joanna Barnes

Claudia

Harold J. Stone

David

Woody Strode

Draba

Peter Brocco

Ramon

Paul Lambert

Gannicus

Robert J. Wilke

Guard captain

Nicholas Dennis

Dionysius

John Hoyt

Caius

Frederic Worlock

Laelius

Tony Curtis

Antoninus as

Saul Gorss

Slave leader

Charles Horvath

Slave leader

Gil Perkins

Slave leader

Johnny Daheim

Capua guard

Dayton Lummis

Symmachus

Lili Valenty

Old crone

Jil Jarmyn

Julia

Jo Summers

Slave girl

Autumn Russell

Slave girl

Kay Stewart

Slave girl

Lynda Lee Williams

Slave girl

Louise Vincent

Slave girl

Harry Harvey Jr.

Young slave

Edwin Parker

Middle-aged slave

Herold Goodwin

Slave

David Bond

Slave

Bill Raisch

Slave

John Barton

Slave

John Duncan

Slave

Lorrie Pettit

Slave

Philip Altman

Slave

Pete Kellett

Slave

Frosty Royce

Slave

Doris Darling

Slave

Edith Happy

Slave

Mary Donovan

Slave

Lila Finn

Slave

Joan Mckellen

Slave

Donna Hall

Slave

Chuck Roberson

Slave

Don Happy

Slave

Polly Burson

Slave

Helen Thurston

Slave

Betty Harford

Slave

James Griffith

Otho

Joe Haworth

Marius

Anthony Jochim

Petitioner

Craig Duncan

Petitioner

Jack Grinnage

Petitioner

Roy Engel

Roman businessman

Paul Keast

Roman businessman

Marvin Goux

Trainer

Dale Van Sickel

Trainer

Rod Normond

Guard

Larry Perron

Guard

Peter Virgo

Guard

Fred Zendar

Guard

John Benson

Guard

Wayne Burson

Guard

Dick Crockett

Guard

Carey Loftin

Guard

Harvey Perry

Guard

Ronnie Rondell

Guard

Don Turner

Guard

Will White

Guard

Ted De Corsia

Legionary

Arthur Batanadies

Legionary

Robert Stevenson

Legionary

John Stephenson

Centurion

Logan Field

Centurion

Terence De Marney

Majordomo

Basil Howes

Orderly

Tracy Olsen

Girl

Vinton Hayworth

Metallius

Carleton Young

Herald

Hallene Hill

Beggar woman

Paul Burns

Fimbria

Leonard Penn

Garrison officer

Harry Johnson

Juggler

Duke Johnson

Juggler

Jeanne Gerson

Woman selling chestnuts

Dayton Osmond

Boy chicken seller

John Traux

Prisoner

Shari Lee Bernath

Little girl

Otto Malde

Roman general

Paul Kruger

Roman senator

Richard Farnsworth

Gladiator

Loren Janes

Gladiator

Jerry Summers

Gladiator

Billy Williams

Gladiator

Paul Baxley

Gladiator

Al Carmichael

Gladiator

Frank Donahue

Gladiator

Louis Elias

Gladiator

Robert Hoy

Gladiator

Hubert Kerns

Gladiator

Bob Morgan

Gladiator

Regis Parton

Gladiator

Victor Paul

Gladiator

Jack Perkins

Gladiator

Wally Rose

Gladiator

Aaron Saxon

Gladiator

Alex Sharp

Gladiator

Tom Steele

Gladiator

Glenn Thompson

Gladiator

Charles Wilcox

Gladiator

Maurice Elias

Gladiator

Don Bramblett

Gladiator

Eugene Poole

Pirate

Bob Burns

Pirate

Preston Peterson

Pirate

Seaman Glass

Pirate

Norman Bishop

Pirate

George Robotham

Pirate

Stubby Kruger

Pirate

Courtney Brown

Pirate

Charlotte Fletcher

Mother

Judy Erwin

Child

Larry Thor

Staff officer

Wayne Heffley

Slave guard

Chuck Courtney

Soldier

Rube Schaffer

Soldier

Jim Sears

Soldier

Russ Saunders

Soldier

Bill Shannon

Soldier

Valley Keene

Soldier

Tap Canutt

Soldier

Joe Canutt

Soldier

Chuck Hayward

Soldier

Bill Catching

Soldier

Jack Williams

Soldier

Jerry Brown

Soldier

Buff Brady

Soldier

Cliff Lyons

Soldier

Desmond Koch

Soldier

Brad Harris

Soldier

Wayne Van Horn

Soldier

Dave Armstrong

Mike Masters

Ken Terrell

Robert Herron

Boyd Red Morgan

Photo Collections

Spartacus - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from Spartacus (1960), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Videos

Movie Clip

Spartacus (1960) - Have We Learned Nothing? Producer and title character Kirk Douglas is disgusted with his fellow slave gladiators, making their former masters fight after their rebellion, confronting colleague Crixus (John Ireland), looking to inspire action against Rome, planning to find some ships, in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, 1960.
Spartacus (1960) - A Disease Called Human Slavery Vic Perrin's crisp narration, from the screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, given his first screen credit by producer and star Kirk Douglas after years on the Hollywood blacklist, the introduction of Douglas and some of his tormentors, Stanley Kubrick directing, in Spartacus, 1960.
Spartacus (1960) - You Have A Certain Education Roman general Crassus (Laurence Olivier) and wife (Nina Foch), with her ambitious brother Glabrus (John Dall) and wife (Joanna Barnes), are guests of gladiator-dealer Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), but most interested in Britannic slave Varinia (Jean Simmons), in Spartacus, 1960, starring Kirk Douglas.
Spartacus (1960) - May Fortune Smile On Most Of You Batiatus (Peter Ustinov) returns to Italy from shopping at the slave camp in Libya, confirming that he’s in the gladiator business, introducing his chief trainer Marcellus (Charles McGraw) to the new men, including John Ireland and the producer, star and title character Kirk Douglas, in Spartacus, 1960.
Spartacus (1960) - Both Snails And Oysters The long-excised bath scene, with dialogue restored in 1991, Tony Curtis doing his own voice and Anthony Hopkins the deceased Laurence Olivier, as the dignified but maybe-decadent general Crassus illuminates his handsome new slave Antoninus, in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, 1960.
Spartacus (1960) - Call Out The Guard! The beginning of the slave rebellion, at the gladiator-camp, producer and star Kirk Douglas tangles with Marcellus (Charles McGraw) upon learning his girlfriend (Jean Simmons) has been sold, proprietor Batiatus (Peter Ustinov) with a quick and shrewd reading, in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, 1960.
Spartacus (1960) - A Taste Of Roman Steel Director Stanley Kubrick’s first scene in Rome, the slave rebellion begun, introducing canny plebeian-born senator Gracchus (Charles Laughton), who manipulates the power-mad Glabrus (John Dall), his pal Caesar (John Gavin) noticeably disinterested, in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, 1960.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Action
Historical
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 1960
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 22 Sep 1960; Chicago, IL opening; 13 Oct 1960; Los Angeles opening: 19 Oct 1960; Boston, MA opening: 27 Oct 1960
Production Company
Bryna Productions, Inc.; Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Chatsworth, California, United States; Death Valley, California, United States; Los Angeles, California, United States; San Simeon--Hearst Castle, California, United States; St. George, Utah, United States; Arizona, United States; Italy; Spain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
3h 4m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Dolby SR (35 mm prin
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Articles

Spartacus


Monday, February 20 10:45 am ET

From 73-71 B.C., the empire of Rome was shaken by a massive slave rebellion. The uprising began when Spartacus, an enslaved bandit from Thrace (now part of Bulgaria), and about seventy other slaves escaped from a gladiator training school run by Lentulus Batiatus at Capua. Over the next two years, Spartacus and his ragtag army repeatedly defeated Roman armies and even threatened Rome itself. Eventually, the rebel slave was defeated by a Roman army commanded by M. Licinius Crassus. Spartacus was killed and some 6,000 of his followers crucified along Appian Way between Capua and Rome.

Though Roman histories tend, for obvious reasons, to downplay the importance of Spartacus, he has in modern times been cited as an inspiring figure to revolutionaries everywhere. Three major novels were written about him and one of these, by the leftist writer Howard Fast, found its way into Kirk Douglas' hands. According to Douglas: "I was intrigued by the story of Spartacus the slave, dreaming of the death of slavery, driving into the armor of Rome the wedge that would eventually destroy her." While not historically accurate, Douglas' words give some sense of how much the project meant to him. His production company, Bryna, optioned Fast's book and Douglas took on the dual roles of executive producer and star.

Fast insisted that he write the script but when he turned in the first sixty pages, Douglas decided that he needed a real screenwriter and he needed one fast. He turned to blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. One of the Hollywood Ten, Trumbo had in 1950 defied the House Un-American Activities Committee and been sentenced to a year in jail. Over the next decade, he cobbled together a living by writing scripts under various pseudonyms (one of which, "Robert Rich," even won an Oscar for The Brave One (1956). Without Fast's knowledge, Douglas approached Trumbo and set him to work. At this time, there was no talk of giving Trumbo screenwriting credit and so his used the alias "Sam Jackson."

Next, Douglas needed a director. Though Universal insisted that Anthony Mann direct, Douglas thought Mann was wrong for the film. "I like people who come up with ideas to make things better; Tony Mann had very little to say. He seemed scared of the scope of the picture. I fought with the studio to replace him. But they had done well financially with him, and ignored all my pleas." Mann began shooting on January 27, 1959, and initially all went well. After directing the opening sequence at the mining camp, production moved to the scenes at the gladiator school. Here Douglas and Mann clashed over Mann's direction of Peter Ustinov. Douglas thought Mann too deferential to the great actor: "He let Peter Ustinov direct his own scenes by taking every suggestion Peter made. The suggestions were good - for Peter, but not necessarily for the picture." On February 13, Douglas told Mann he was fired. Douglas then proposed that Stanley Kubrick take the helm but Universal balked. Douglas had been impressed with the young director when they made Paths of Glory two years earlier. But with pressure mounting and the clock ticking, Universal reluctantly agreed to hire Kubrick. This put the 30-year-old director in charge of the most expensive film made in Hollywood up to that point ($12 million). The young director read the script over the weekend and was ready to shoot the next Monday, on February 16.

Kubrick had just emerged from a six-month mental ordeal with Marlon Brando over the direction of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), and he badly needed a job. But with production already in full gear, he had no hand in the script, an anomaly in his career, and was, in his words, merely a "hired hand." Over the years, Kubrick repeatedly denigrated the film. In 1968 he said: "Then I did Spartacus, which was the only film that I did not have control over, and which I feel was not enhanced by that fact. It all really just came down to the fact that there are thousands of decisions that have to be made, and that if you don't make them yourself, and if you're not on the same wavelength as the people who are making them, it becomes a very painful experience, which it was." According to Kubrick, Spartacus "had everything but a good story." In his next film, Lolita (1962), Kubrick has Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers) respond to a question about his identity by exclaiming: "No, I'm Spartacus, have you come to free the slaves or something?" Though Kubrick and Douglas had worked well together on Paths of Glory (1957), the experience of Spartacus soured their relationship. As Douglas notes in his autobiography, "You can be a shit and be talented and, conversely, you can be the nicest guy in the world and not have any talent. Stanley Kubrick is a talented shit."

But despite all this, Kubrick proved a wise choice. His sense of visual composition is unerring and many of the best parts of the film are the sequences which have little or no dialogue. This was Kubrick's first film in color and his first using a widescreen format. The final battle between Spartacus' fighters and the geometrically arranged Roman army is absolutely stunning and recalls some of the films of Sergei Eisenstein. The opening shots of the final battle were shot in Madrid using some 8,000 Spanish soldiers as extras. The shots of the battle, however, were shot on a Hollywood soundstage. The sounds of the crowds yelling "Hail, Crassus" and "I am Spartacus" were actually 76,000 fans at a Notre Dame-Michigan State football game enlisted for this purpose. As an interesting side note, one of the film's stuntmen was the actor Richard Farnsworth (The Grey Fox, 1982; The Straight Story, 1999).

In addition to Trumbo and Kubrick, Douglas managed to assemble one of the finest casts imaginable. Spartacus was the second film in as many years in which Douglas co-starred with Laurence Olivier. Douglas had given Fast's novel to Olivier while making The Devil's Disciple (1959), and Olivier was immediately interested. As Douglas notes in his autobiography: "He read it and reacted very favorably. He thought Spartacus would be a terrific role - for him. Uh oh." Eventually, Olivier sent Douglas a telegram saying that if the part of Crassus was improved upon, he would be amenable to working on such a "gallant enterprise and one I should be extremely proud to be a part of." Peter Ustinov readily signed on, but securing Charles Laughton presented a more difficult problem. In London, Douglas went backstage to see Laughton after a stage performance. "I glanced at the script," said Laughton. "Really, a piece of sh*t." But Douglas' hopes were buoyed by a comment from Hollywood agent Lew Wasserman: "Don't worry. That's just Laughton's attitude. It's a good role and he'll do it. He needs the money." In the end, Laughton did the film for a much needed $41,000, though he later complained that his 13 days of shooting were far from a pleasant experience. Olivier, Laughton and Ustinov are uniformly terrific though, and they steal every scene they are in.

For the role of Varinia, Spartacus' love, Douglas searched far and wide, before settling on a beautiful German actress, Sabina Bethmann. But as shooting got under way with Kubrick, it was decided that Bethmann was not up to the part. Douglas then called Jean Simmons, who had earlier been considered for the role. Simmons had recently finished shooting Elmer Gantry (1960) - she would wed the film's director, Richard Brooks, in 1960 - and was staying at her ranch in Arizona. According to Simmons, "Kirk told me to get my ass on out to Los Angeles. I did. Pronto." Tony Curtis' role was added to the script after the actor came to Douglas and asked to be in the film. The cast was rounded out with memorable supporting roles for Woody Strode, John Gavin, Nina Foch and John Dall. Only Herbert Lom is seriously miscast as the trader Tigranes.

After 167 days of shooting, production moved to the editing room. Undoubtedly the most famous editing decision concerned the bathtub scene (filmed at William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon estate) in which Olivier tries to seduce Tony Curtis via a discussion about snails and oysters. According to Douglas, the scene was "very subtle, nothing explicit. The censors weren't sure it was about homosexuality, but just in case they wanted it out." For Douglas, the scene was important because it "showed another way the Romans abused the slaves." But this also resuscitates the pernicious idea that fascism and homosexuality go hand in hand. So in the end it is difficult to say which is more offensive: the portrait of Crassus as a bisexual Joseph McCarthy or its removal from the film. When the film was restored in 1989, the footage for this scene was found but the soundtrack was too damaged to be usable. Tony Curtis came in to re-record his lines, but since Laurence Olivier had died earlier that year, Anthony Hopkins was hired to impersonate Olivier for the scene.

When time came to decide whose name should go on the film, Douglas chose to use Trumbo's real name. Douglas recalls that, "I wasn't thinking of being a hero and breaking the blacklist; it wasn't until later that I realized the significance of that impulsive gesture." But not everyone was happy to see Trumbo back in the spotlight. When the film premiered, Hedda Hopper blasted it, writing that Spartacus was based on "a book written by a Commie and the screen script was written by a Commie, so don't go see it." The American Legion protested the film because of Trumbo's participation. But when President Kennedy saw the film and spoke well of it to the press, the controversy died down.

A reviewer in Variety declared that the film was an example of "sheer pictorial poetry" and that Kubrick had "out DeMilled the old master in spectacle." Some critics, however, were unmoved. In the New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote that the film's ending is less than satisfying: "a great deal more is made of Miss Simmons' post-war predicament than of the crucifixion of 6,000 captive slaves." But, in general, the film was an enormous critical and commercial success. It won four Academy Awards: for Best Supporting Actor (Peter Ustinov), Best Cinematographer (Russell Metty), Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. It was also nominated for Best Score (Alex North) and Best Editing (Robert Lawrence).

Producer: Edward Lewis
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay: Dalton Trumbo
Production Design: Alexander Golitzen
Cinematography: Russell Metty, Clifford Stine
Costume Design: Bill Thomas, Arlington F. Valles, Irene Valles
Film Editing: Fred A. Chulack, Robert Lawrence, Robert Sculte
Original Music: Alex North
Principal Cast: Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Laurence Oliver (Marcus Licinius Crassus), Jean Simmons (Varinia), Charles Laughton (Sempronius Gracchus), Peter Ustinov (Lentulus), Tony Curtis (Antoninus), John Gavin (Caius Julius Caesar), Nina Foch (Helena Glabrus), John Ireland (Crixus), Herbert Lom (Tigranes Levantus), John Dall (Marcus Publius Glabrus), Woody Strode (Draba), Charles McGraw (Marcellus).
C-196m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Mark Frankel
Spartacus

Spartacus

Monday, February 20 10:45 am ET From 73-71 B.C., the empire of Rome was shaken by a massive slave rebellion. The uprising began when Spartacus, an enslaved bandit from Thrace (now part of Bulgaria), and about seventy other slaves escaped from a gladiator training school run by Lentulus Batiatus at Capua. Over the next two years, Spartacus and his ragtag army repeatedly defeated Roman armies and even threatened Rome itself. Eventually, the rebel slave was defeated by a Roman army commanded by M. Licinius Crassus. Spartacus was killed and some 6,000 of his followers crucified along Appian Way between Capua and Rome. Though Roman histories tend, for obvious reasons, to downplay the importance of Spartacus, he has in modern times been cited as an inspiring figure to revolutionaries everywhere. Three major novels were written about him and one of these, by the leftist writer Howard Fast, found its way into Kirk Douglas' hands. According to Douglas: "I was intrigued by the story of Spartacus the slave, dreaming of the death of slavery, driving into the armor of Rome the wedge that would eventually destroy her." While not historically accurate, Douglas' words give some sense of how much the project meant to him. His production company, Bryna, optioned Fast's book and Douglas took on the dual roles of executive producer and star. Fast insisted that he write the script but when he turned in the first sixty pages, Douglas decided that he needed a real screenwriter and he needed one fast. He turned to blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. One of the Hollywood Ten, Trumbo had in 1950 defied the House Un-American Activities Committee and been sentenced to a year in jail. Over the next decade, he cobbled together a living by writing scripts under various pseudonyms (one of which, "Robert Rich," even won an Oscar for The Brave One (1956). Without Fast's knowledge, Douglas approached Trumbo and set him to work. At this time, there was no talk of giving Trumbo screenwriting credit and so his used the alias "Sam Jackson." Next, Douglas needed a director. Though Universal insisted that Anthony Mann direct, Douglas thought Mann was wrong for the film. "I like people who come up with ideas to make things better; Tony Mann had very little to say. He seemed scared of the scope of the picture. I fought with the studio to replace him. But they had done well financially with him, and ignored all my pleas." Mann began shooting on January 27, 1959, and initially all went well. After directing the opening sequence at the mining camp, production moved to the scenes at the gladiator school. Here Douglas and Mann clashed over Mann's direction of Peter Ustinov. Douglas thought Mann too deferential to the great actor: "He let Peter Ustinov direct his own scenes by taking every suggestion Peter made. The suggestions were good - for Peter, but not necessarily for the picture." On February 13, Douglas told Mann he was fired. Douglas then proposed that Stanley Kubrick take the helm but Universal balked. Douglas had been impressed with the young director when they made Paths of Glory two years earlier. But with pressure mounting and the clock ticking, Universal reluctantly agreed to hire Kubrick. This put the 30-year-old director in charge of the most expensive film made in Hollywood up to that point ($12 million). The young director read the script over the weekend and was ready to shoot the next Monday, on February 16. Kubrick had just emerged from a six-month mental ordeal with Marlon Brando over the direction of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), and he badly needed a job. But with production already in full gear, he had no hand in the script, an anomaly in his career, and was, in his words, merely a "hired hand." Over the years, Kubrick repeatedly denigrated the film. In 1968 he said: "Then I did Spartacus, which was the only film that I did not have control over, and which I feel was not enhanced by that fact. It all really just came down to the fact that there are thousands of decisions that have to be made, and that if you don't make them yourself, and if you're not on the same wavelength as the people who are making them, it becomes a very painful experience, which it was." According to Kubrick, Spartacus "had everything but a good story." In his next film, Lolita (1962), Kubrick has Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers) respond to a question about his identity by exclaiming: "No, I'm Spartacus, have you come to free the slaves or something?" Though Kubrick and Douglas had worked well together on Paths of Glory (1957), the experience of Spartacus soured their relationship. As Douglas notes in his autobiography, "You can be a shit and be talented and, conversely, you can be the nicest guy in the world and not have any talent. Stanley Kubrick is a talented shit." But despite all this, Kubrick proved a wise choice. His sense of visual composition is unerring and many of the best parts of the film are the sequences which have little or no dialogue. This was Kubrick's first film in color and his first using a widescreen format. The final battle between Spartacus' fighters and the geometrically arranged Roman army is absolutely stunning and recalls some of the films of Sergei Eisenstein. The opening shots of the final battle were shot in Madrid using some 8,000 Spanish soldiers as extras. The shots of the battle, however, were shot on a Hollywood soundstage. The sounds of the crowds yelling "Hail, Crassus" and "I am Spartacus" were actually 76,000 fans at a Notre Dame-Michigan State football game enlisted for this purpose. As an interesting side note, one of the film's stuntmen was the actor Richard Farnsworth (The Grey Fox, 1982; The Straight Story, 1999). In addition to Trumbo and Kubrick, Douglas managed to assemble one of the finest casts imaginable. Spartacus was the second film in as many years in which Douglas co-starred with Laurence Olivier. Douglas had given Fast's novel to Olivier while making The Devil's Disciple (1959), and Olivier was immediately interested. As Douglas notes in his autobiography: "He read it and reacted very favorably. He thought Spartacus would be a terrific role - for him. Uh oh." Eventually, Olivier sent Douglas a telegram saying that if the part of Crassus was improved upon, he would be amenable to working on such a "gallant enterprise and one I should be extremely proud to be a part of." Peter Ustinov readily signed on, but securing Charles Laughton presented a more difficult problem. In London, Douglas went backstage to see Laughton after a stage performance. "I glanced at the script," said Laughton. "Really, a piece of sh*t." But Douglas' hopes were buoyed by a comment from Hollywood agent Lew Wasserman: "Don't worry. That's just Laughton's attitude. It's a good role and he'll do it. He needs the money." In the end, Laughton did the film for a much needed $41,000, though he later complained that his 13 days of shooting were far from a pleasant experience. Olivier, Laughton and Ustinov are uniformly terrific though, and they steal every scene they are in. For the role of Varinia, Spartacus' love, Douglas searched far and wide, before settling on a beautiful German actress, Sabina Bethmann. But as shooting got under way with Kubrick, it was decided that Bethmann was not up to the part. Douglas then called Jean Simmons, who had earlier been considered for the role. Simmons had recently finished shooting Elmer Gantry (1960) - she would wed the film's director, Richard Brooks, in 1960 - and was staying at her ranch in Arizona. According to Simmons, "Kirk told me to get my ass on out to Los Angeles. I did. Pronto." Tony Curtis' role was added to the script after the actor came to Douglas and asked to be in the film. The cast was rounded out with memorable supporting roles for Woody Strode, John Gavin, Nina Foch and John Dall. Only Herbert Lom is seriously miscast as the trader Tigranes. After 167 days of shooting, production moved to the editing room. Undoubtedly the most famous editing decision concerned the bathtub scene (filmed at William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon estate) in which Olivier tries to seduce Tony Curtis via a discussion about snails and oysters. According to Douglas, the scene was "very subtle, nothing explicit. The censors weren't sure it was about homosexuality, but just in case they wanted it out." For Douglas, the scene was important because it "showed another way the Romans abused the slaves." But this also resuscitates the pernicious idea that fascism and homosexuality go hand in hand. So in the end it is difficult to say which is more offensive: the portrait of Crassus as a bisexual Joseph McCarthy or its removal from the film. When the film was restored in 1989, the footage for this scene was found but the soundtrack was too damaged to be usable. Tony Curtis came in to re-record his lines, but since Laurence Olivier had died earlier that year, Anthony Hopkins was hired to impersonate Olivier for the scene. When time came to decide whose name should go on the film, Douglas chose to use Trumbo's real name. Douglas recalls that, "I wasn't thinking of being a hero and breaking the blacklist; it wasn't until later that I realized the significance of that impulsive gesture." But not everyone was happy to see Trumbo back in the spotlight. When the film premiered, Hedda Hopper blasted it, writing that Spartacus was based on "a book written by a Commie and the screen script was written by a Commie, so don't go see it." The American Legion protested the film because of Trumbo's participation. But when President Kennedy saw the film and spoke well of it to the press, the controversy died down. A reviewer in Variety declared that the film was an example of "sheer pictorial poetry" and that Kubrick had "out DeMilled the old master in spectacle." Some critics, however, were unmoved. In the New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote that the film's ending is less than satisfying: "a great deal more is made of Miss Simmons' post-war predicament than of the crucifixion of 6,000 captive slaves." But, in general, the film was an enormous critical and commercial success. It won four Academy Awards: for Best Supporting Actor (Peter Ustinov), Best Cinematographer (Russell Metty), Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. It was also nominated for Best Score (Alex North) and Best Editing (Robert Lawrence). Producer: Edward Lewis Director: Stanley Kubrick Screenplay: Dalton Trumbo Production Design: Alexander Golitzen Cinematography: Russell Metty, Clifford Stine Costume Design: Bill Thomas, Arlington F. Valles, Irene Valles Film Editing: Fred A. Chulack, Robert Lawrence, Robert Sculte Original Music: Alex North Principal Cast: Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Laurence Oliver (Marcus Licinius Crassus), Jean Simmons (Varinia), Charles Laughton (Sempronius Gracchus), Peter Ustinov (Lentulus), Tony Curtis (Antoninus), John Gavin (Caius Julius Caesar), Nina Foch (Helena Glabrus), John Ireland (Crixus), Herbert Lom (Tigranes Levantus), John Dall (Marcus Publius Glabrus), Woody Strode (Draba), Charles McGraw (Marcellus). C-196m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Mark Frankel

Spartacus - Stanley Kubrick's SPARTACUS on DVD


Whether you were amused or vexed by Gladiator, you shouldn't miss the classic manly men vs. Rome epic Spartacus (1960). It won four Oscars, marked Stanley Kubrick's first studio film (after taking over from Anthony Mann), broke ground by ignoring the blacklist against screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and is undeniably a memorable film experience. Spartacus is now available in a sterling DVD (from Criterion) that does full justice to its status. At the core, of course, is a new enhanced widescreen transfer of the restored version of the film. But there's much more. An audio commentary features many of the key participants (such as Kirk Douglas, novelist Howard Fast, restorer Robert Harris) plus you can get scene analyses from scripter Dalton Trumbo and even more of Alex North's music. An entire second disc is given over to deleted scenes, newsreels, brief documentaries, Kubrick's drawings and other goodies. You might still find the earlier DVD in stores though it not only lacks all the extras but the older transfer won't look as nice; just check the packaging to see what you're getting. (Trivia alert: An earlier version of the historical tale of slave rebel Spartacus was made in Italy in 1954 by cult director Riccardo Freda with the English-language title Sins of Rome.)

Spartacus - Stanley Kubrick's SPARTACUS on DVD

Whether you were amused or vexed by Gladiator, you shouldn't miss the classic manly men vs. Rome epic Spartacus (1960). It won four Oscars, marked Stanley Kubrick's first studio film (after taking over from Anthony Mann), broke ground by ignoring the blacklist against screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and is undeniably a memorable film experience. Spartacus is now available in a sterling DVD (from Criterion) that does full justice to its status. At the core, of course, is a new enhanced widescreen transfer of the restored version of the film. But there's much more. An audio commentary features many of the key participants (such as Kirk Douglas, novelist Howard Fast, restorer Robert Harris) plus you can get scene analyses from scripter Dalton Trumbo and even more of Alex North's music. An entire second disc is given over to deleted scenes, newsreels, brief documentaries, Kubrick's drawings and other goodies. You might still find the earlier DVD in stores though it not only lacks all the extras but the older transfer won't look as nice; just check the packaging to see what you're getting. (Trivia alert: An earlier version of the historical tale of slave rebel Spartacus was made in Italy in 1954 by cult director Riccardo Freda with the English-language title Sins of Rome.)

Sir Peter Ustinov (1921-2004)


Sir Peter Ustinov, the witty, multi-talented actor, director and writer whose 60-year career in entertainment included two Best Supporting Actor Oscars® for his memorable character turns in the films Spartacus and Topkapi, died of heart failure on March 28 at a clinic in Genolier, Switzerland. He was 82.

He was born Peter Alexander Ustinov on April 16, 1921 in London, England. His father was a press attache at the German embassy until 1935 - when disgusted by the Nazi regime - he took out British nationality. He attended Westminster School, an exclusive private school in central London until he was 16. He then enrolled for acting classes at the London Theater Studio, and by 1939, he made his London stage debut.

His jovial nature and strong gift for dialects made him a natural player for films, and it wasn't long after finding theatre work that Ustinov moved into motion pictures: a Dutch priest in Michael Powell's One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1941); an elderly Czech professor in Let the People Sing (1942); and a star pupil of a Nazi spy school in The Goose Steps Out (1942).

He served in the British Army for four years (1942-46), where he found his talents well utilized by the military, allowing him to join the director Sir Carol Reed on some propaganda films. He eventually earned his first screenwriting credit for The Way Ahead (1944). One of Sir Carol Reed's best films, The Way Ahead was a thrilling drama which starred David Niven as a civilian heading up a group of locals to resist an oncoming Nazi unit. It was enough of a hit to earn Ustinov his first film directorial assignment, School for Secrets (1946), a well paced drama about the discovery of radar starring Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Richard Attenborough.

After the war, Ustinov took on another writer-director project Vice Versa (1948), a whimsical fantasy-comedy starring Roger Livesey and Anthony Newley as a father and son who magically switch personalities. Although not a huge hit of its day, the sheer buoyancy of the surreal premise has earned the film a large cult following.

Ustinov made his Hollywood debut, and garnered his first Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as an indolent Nero in the Roman epic, Quo Vadis? (1951). After achieving some international popularity with that role, Ustinov gave some top-notch performances in quality films: the snappish Prinny in the Stewart Granger vehicle Beau Brummel (1954); holding his own against Humphrey Bogart as an escaped convict in We're No Angels (1954); the ring master who presides over the life of the lead character in Max Ophuls's resplendent Lola Montez (1955); and a garrulous settler coping with the Australian outback in The Sundowners (1960).

The '60s would be Ustinov's most fruitful decade. He started off gabbing his first Oscar® as the cunning slave dealer in Spartacus (1960); made a smooth screen adaptation by directing his smash play, Romanoff and Juliet (1961), earned critical acclaim for his co-adaptation, direction, production and performance in Herman Melville's nautical classic Billy Budd (1962); and earned a second Oscar® as the fumbling jewel thief in the crime comedy Topkapi (1964).

He scored another Oscar® nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category for his airy, clever crime romp Hot Millions (1968), in which he played a con artist who uses a computer to bilk a company out of millions of dollars; but after that, Ustinov began taking a string of offbeat character parts: the lead in one of Disney's better kiddie flicks Blackbeard's Ghost (1968); a Mexican General who wants to reclaim Texas for Mexico in Viva Max! (1969); an old man who survives the ravaged planet of the future in Logan's Run (1976); and an unfortunate turn as a Chinese stereotype in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981). Still, he did achieve renewed popularity when he took on the role of Hercule Poirot in the star laced, Agatha Christie extravaganza Death on the Nile (1978). He was such a hit, that he would adroitly play the Belgian detective in two more theatrical movies: Evil Under the Sun (1982) and Appointment With Death (1988); as well as three television movies: Thirteen at Dinner (1985), Murder in Three Acts, Dead Man's Folly (both 1986).

Beyond his work in films, Ustinov was justifiably praised for his humanitarian work - most notably as the unpaid, goodwill ambassador for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Since 1968, he had traveled to all corners of the globe: China, Russia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Kenya, Egypt, Thailand and numerous other countries to promote and host many benefit concerts for the agency.

Ustinov, who in 1990 earned a knighthood for his artistic and humanitarian contributions, is survived by his wife of 32 years, Hélène du Lau d'Allemans; three daughters, Tamara, Pavla, Andrea; and a son, Igor.

by Michael T. Toole

Sir Peter Ustinov (1921-2004)

Sir Peter Ustinov, the witty, multi-talented actor, director and writer whose 60-year career in entertainment included two Best Supporting Actor Oscars® for his memorable character turns in the films Spartacus and Topkapi, died of heart failure on March 28 at a clinic in Genolier, Switzerland. He was 82. He was born Peter Alexander Ustinov on April 16, 1921 in London, England. His father was a press attache at the German embassy until 1935 - when disgusted by the Nazi regime - he took out British nationality. He attended Westminster School, an exclusive private school in central London until he was 16. He then enrolled for acting classes at the London Theater Studio, and by 1939, he made his London stage debut. His jovial nature and strong gift for dialects made him a natural player for films, and it wasn't long after finding theatre work that Ustinov moved into motion pictures: a Dutch priest in Michael Powell's One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1941); an elderly Czech professor in Let the People Sing (1942); and a star pupil of a Nazi spy school in The Goose Steps Out (1942). He served in the British Army for four years (1942-46), where he found his talents well utilized by the military, allowing him to join the director Sir Carol Reed on some propaganda films. He eventually earned his first screenwriting credit for The Way Ahead (1944). One of Sir Carol Reed's best films, The Way Ahead was a thrilling drama which starred David Niven as a civilian heading up a group of locals to resist an oncoming Nazi unit. It was enough of a hit to earn Ustinov his first film directorial assignment, School for Secrets (1946), a well paced drama about the discovery of radar starring Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Richard Attenborough. After the war, Ustinov took on another writer-director project Vice Versa (1948), a whimsical fantasy-comedy starring Roger Livesey and Anthony Newley as a father and son who magically switch personalities. Although not a huge hit of its day, the sheer buoyancy of the surreal premise has earned the film a large cult following. Ustinov made his Hollywood debut, and garnered his first Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as an indolent Nero in the Roman epic, Quo Vadis? (1951). After achieving some international popularity with that role, Ustinov gave some top-notch performances in quality films: the snappish Prinny in the Stewart Granger vehicle Beau Brummel (1954); holding his own against Humphrey Bogart as an escaped convict in We're No Angels (1954); the ring master who presides over the life of the lead character in Max Ophuls's resplendent Lola Montez (1955); and a garrulous settler coping with the Australian outback in The Sundowners (1960). The '60s would be Ustinov's most fruitful decade. He started off gabbing his first Oscar® as the cunning slave dealer in Spartacus (1960); made a smooth screen adaptation by directing his smash play, Romanoff and Juliet (1961), earned critical acclaim for his co-adaptation, direction, production and performance in Herman Melville's nautical classic Billy Budd (1962); and earned a second Oscar® as the fumbling jewel thief in the crime comedy Topkapi (1964). He scored another Oscar® nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category for his airy, clever crime romp Hot Millions (1968), in which he played a con artist who uses a computer to bilk a company out of millions of dollars; but after that, Ustinov began taking a string of offbeat character parts: the lead in one of Disney's better kiddie flicks Blackbeard's Ghost (1968); a Mexican General who wants to reclaim Texas for Mexico in Viva Max! (1969); an old man who survives the ravaged planet of the future in Logan's Run (1976); and an unfortunate turn as a Chinese stereotype in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981). Still, he did achieve renewed popularity when he took on the role of Hercule Poirot in the star laced, Agatha Christie extravaganza Death on the Nile (1978). He was such a hit, that he would adroitly play the Belgian detective in two more theatrical movies: Evil Under the Sun (1982) and Appointment With Death (1988); as well as three television movies: Thirteen at Dinner (1985), Murder in Three Acts, Dead Man's Folly (both 1986). Beyond his work in films, Ustinov was justifiably praised for his humanitarian work - most notably as the unpaid, goodwill ambassador for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Since 1968, he had traveled to all corners of the globe: China, Russia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Kenya, Egypt, Thailand and numerous other countries to promote and host many benefit concerts for the agency. Ustinov, who in 1990 earned a knighthood for his artistic and humanitarian contributions, is survived by his wife of 32 years, Hélène du Lau d'Allemans; three daughters, Tamara, Pavla, Andrea; and a son, Igor. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

And maybe there's no peace in this world, for us or for anyone else, I don't know. But I do know that, as long as we live, we must remain true to ourselves.
- Spartacus
A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself.
- Batiatus
This republic of ours is something like a rich widow. Most Romans love her as their mother but Crassus dreams of marrying the old girl to put it politely.
- Gracchus
What's your name?
- Spartacus
You don't want to know my name. I don't want to know your name.
- Draba
Just a friendly question.
- Spartacus
Gladiators don't make friends. If we're ever matched in the arena together, I have to kill you.
- Draba
You and I have a tendency towards corpulence. Corpulence makes a man reasonable, pleasant and phlegmatic. Have you noticed the nastiest of tyrants are invariably thin?
- Gracchus

Trivia

Stanley Kubrick was brought in as director after 'Douglas, Kirk' had a major falling out with the original director, 'Mann, Anthony' .

Kirk Douglas, as co-producer of the film with Bryna Productions, insisted on hiring "Hollywood Ten" blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo to adapt the film. Douglas also hired blacklisted character actor, Peter Brocco, to play a supporting role.

Kubrick was not given control of the script, which he felt was full of stupid moralizing. Since this film, Kubrick has kept full control over all aspects of his films.

The sound of the crowd cheering "Spartacus! Spartacus!" was actually recorded at a football game in Spartan Stadium, home of the Michigan State University Spartans in East Lansing, Michigan.

Of the 167 days it took Kubrick to shoot Spartacus, six weeks were spent directing an elaborate battle sequence in which 8,500 extras dramatized the clash between the Roman troops and Spartacus' slave army. Several scenes in the battle drew the ire of the Legion of Decency and were therefore cut. These include shots of men being dismembered (dwarfs with false torsos and an armless man with a phony "break-away" limb were used to give authenticity). Seven years later, when the Oscar-winning film was reissued, an additional 22 minutes were chopped out, including a scene in which Varinia watches Spartacus writhe in agony on a cross. Her line "Oh, please die, my darling" was excised, and the scene was cut to make it appear that Spartacus was already dead.

Notes

The film begins with a voice-over narration stating that before Christianity, the Roman Republic ruled as the center of the civilized world, but remained stricken with the disease of slavery. Although some reviews noted the story's unreliable correlation to history, many of the film's characters were derived from real figures, including Spartacus (d. 71 B.C.), Marcus Licinius Crassus (d. 53 B.C.) and Caius Sempronius Gracchus (d. 121 B.C.). As depicted in the film, Spartacus was a Thracian slave who broke out of a Capuan gladiators' school to lead a revolt that was eventually suppressed by Crassus, who then crucified his captives by the hundreds. In contrast to the film, Spartacus was killed in battle, after which Crassus ruled Rome in a triumvirate with Pompey and Julius Caesar. Gracchus lived decades earlier, and helped organize a social reform movement that lasted only a few years before being repealed. He was killed in a series of riots protesting the repeal.
       On March 19, 1958, Kirk Douglas' company, Bryna Productions, announced a production deal with Universal that would begin with the studio providing co-financing and distribution services for a film to be based on the 1951 Howard Fast novel Spartacus. The film's proposed budget at that time was $4,000,000. In August 1958, Alciona Productions planned to produce a film entitled Spartacus and the Gladiators (not based on Fast's book) with Yul Brynner as star, Martin Ritt as director and United Artists as distributor. Bryna protested the use of the title, but on August 21, 1958, Hollywood Reporter announced that the MPAA had awarded Alciona sole use of the name. Bryna then appealed the decision, and according to Douglas' autobiography, after a brief competition, United Artists conceded the rights to the name in October 1958.
       According to a modern source, David Lean was considered to direct Spartacus, but declined. Laurence Olivier was then asked to direct, but Hollywood Reporter reported in October 1958 that he had "relinquished" the directing assignment, as he felt the dual role of actor-director would prove too demanding. Anthony Mann took over as director, but was fired by Douglas after two weeks of shooting. Douglas stated in his autobiography that he considered Mann "too docile," especially for the powerful actors dominating the cast. The scenes that Mann shot, consisting mainly of the opening sequence depicting slaves working in the mines, remain in the final film. Douglas then hired Stanley Kubrick, who began shooting on February 16, 1959.
       Modern sources refer to numerous disputes between Kubrick and various cast and crew members, most notably Douglas and writer Dalton Trumbo. At the time that Douglas hired Trumbo to adapt Fast's novel, Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, was still blacklisted because of his refusal to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Douglas related the following in his autobiography: Trumbo was forced to work in secret, often using either producer Edward Lewis as a front, or the pen name of "Sam Jackson." When the final writing credit needed to be decided, Kubrick suggested using his own name, which so offended Douglas that he insisted Trumbo receive onscreen credit in his own name. Despite the ensuing opposition from the American Legion and such personalities as Hedda Hopper and John Wayne, this credit constituted, as a April 26, 1991 New York Times article described it, "a giant step toward ending the Hollywood blacklist." (Some modern sources dispute this status, pointing out that Trumbo also received credit for the United Artists film Exodus, which was not released until December 1960 but May have set its credit list earlier.)
       Sabina Bethmann was originally hired to play "Varinia," but on February 20, 1959 the "Rambling Reporter" column in Hollywood Reporter noted that she had been paid $3,000 to leave the production. According to studio press materials, technical director Vittorio Nino Novarese was a professor of history, costume and décor at the Italian State School for Cinematographical Studies. Modern sources state that Richard Farnsworth, who played a gladiator in the film, also served as Douglas' stand-in.
       Many injuries occurred during the long production. According to a May 22, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Tony Curtis split his Achilles' tendon while playing tennis with Douglas and was placed in a cast from heel to knee. His scenes were then delayed until his leg healed. The following month, as reported in Hollywood Reporter, Douglas contracted the flu, causing production to halt for five days. In addition, longtime Universal art director Eric Orbom died of a heart attack during production, in May 1959.
       After principal photography was completed in Los Angeles in early August 1959, Kubrick and photographer Clifford Stine traveled to Spain to shoot battle scenes. According to an October 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, 8,800 Spanish army troops were photographed for the sequence. Hollywood Reporter reported on October 15, 1959 that the crowd noises used in the sequence were to be recorded at the upcoming football game between Notre Dame and Michigan State. According to a March 22, 1959 article in New York Times, "upwards of 50,000 [extras] took part" in the battle sequences, which were supplemented by dummies and painted backdrops. In addition to scenes shot on location in Spain and Los Angeles, news items and reviews add that some scenes were shot in St. George, UT, Arizona, Italy and in California at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Death Valley and Chatsworth.
       Spartacus was shot in Super Technirama-70, a widescreen process based on VistaVision. Technirama used 35mm film spooled through the camera horizontally, allowing for a frame twice the size of the normal 35mm negative. Hollywood Reporter reported on July 24, 1959 that Kubrick spent $40,000 on the over-ten-acre gladiator camp set. On the side of the set that bordered the freeway, a 125-foot asbestos curtain was erected in order to film the burning of the camp, which was organized with collaboration from the Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments. Studio press materials state that 5,000 uniforms and seven tons of armor were borrowed from Italian museums, and that "every one of Hollywood's 187 stunt men was trained in the gladiatorial rituals of combat to the death." Modern sources note that production utilized approximately 10,500 people. In July 1959, Hollywood Reporter announced that the budget had "spiraled" from $5,000,000 to $9,000,000, and according to studio press materials, the final budget was $12,000,000. Some sources stated that the massive production was the most expensive in film history to that point; however, the budget for the 1959 M-G-M epic Ben-Hur exceeded $15,000,000. The April 1991 New York Times article points out that this amount equaled more than Universal was worth at the time of the film's production, when the studio was purchased by MCA for $11,250,000.
       Although sources conflict about running times, contemporary reviews following press screenings state a range from 190 to 195 minutes. An April 1991 Connoisseur article states that the National Catholic Legion of Decency demanded that five minutes of objectionable material be cut from the film, including graphic battle scenes and what is commonly referred to by modern sources as the "snails and oysters" scene. In the scene, during which the bi-sexual "Crassus," is in his bath, he obliquely questions "Antoninus" about his sexual orientation through a metaphorical discussion of his own preference for snails sometimes and oysters at other times.
       Universal's advertising campaign, which began in December 1959, declared that "1960 is the year of Spartacus." The film's world premiere was held on September 22, 1960 at the DeMille Theatre in New York. The contract between the theater and Universal included a $1,000,000 film rental minimum, the highest ever for a motion picture. According to a April 7, 1960 Hollywood Reporter article, the theater installed a new screen and projectors for the premiere. The picture was shown with a fifteen-minute intermission. To coincide with the film's release, Bantam published a paperback version of Spartacus containing a sixteen-page illustrated booklet of material from the film, including drawings, credits and a summary.
       Modern sources add the following names to the crew credits: Acting coach Jeff Corey; Hair stylist Jay Sebring; Storyboard artists Claude Gillingwater and Johnny Peacock; Sound Jack Foley; Stunt Coordinator Johnny Daheim; Stunt double for Kirk Douglas Loren Janes; and Stuntman Sol Goras. The Hollywood Reporter reviewer called Spartacus "magnificent," "monumental" and "a splendid achievement." The picture received the 1960 Golden Globe for Best Picture and Academy Awards for Supporting Actor (Peter Ustinov), Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design. Spartacus ranked number 62 in the AFI 100 Years...100 Thrills list, and the character of Spartacus ranked 22 in the AFI 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains list.
       In 1990, Universal launched a restoration of Spartacus, done by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz. The new version included previously excised material, including the "snails and oysters" scene. Because Olivier had died by the time of the restoration, Harris hired Anthony Hopkins to dub Crassus' dialogue. The restored version, in 70mm and six-track Dolby sound, had its premiere on April 21, 1991 in New York at a benefit for the American Film Institute. On April 24, 2001, the Criterion Collection released a special-edition Spartacus DVD that included commentary by Douglas, Lewis, Fast, Ustinov and Harris.
       Other film versions of the Spartacus story include a 1909 Italian film entitled Spartacus, as well as 1963's The Slave and the 1965 picture Revenge of the Gladiators, both of which were Italian productions. In 2004, the USA Network broadcast a television miniseries of Spartacus, directed by Robert Dornhelm and starring Goran Visnjic. Many reviewers of the Oscar-winning 2001 film Gladiator noted the similarities between it and Spartacus. Gladiator was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Russell Crowe.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 1960

Re-released in United States April 26, 1991

Expanded re-release in United States May 3, 1991

Re-released in United States on Video November 7, 1991

Released in United States on Video April 24, 2001

Released in United States March 1980

Released in United States 1991

Released in United States April 1991

Released in United States January 1992

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States 1997

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival (1991 restored version) April 26-May 9, 1991.

Shown at WideScreen Film Festival in Los Angeles October 31 - November 16, 1997.

Stanley Kubrick replaced director Anthony Mann 14 days after shooting had started. Mann had already shot the opening scenes in Libya and Spartacus' arrival at the gladiator school.

The original 1960 release included almost 10 minutes of overture, and entrance and exit music.

Universal Pictures trimmed the film upon its original release to avoid controversy over an implied homosexual seduction scene between Laurence Olivier and Tony Curtis.

Re-released in London June 14, 1991.

Released in USA on laserdisc December 1988.

Super Technirama 70

Re-released in Paris July 17, 1991.

Released in United States Fall October 1960

Re-released in United States April 26, 1991 (1991 restored version; New York City, Los Angeles and Washington)

Expanded re-release in United States May 3, 1991

Re-released in United States on Video November 7, 1991

Released in United States on Video April 24, 2001

Released in United States March 1980 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Epic: A Monumental Movie Marathon) March 4-21, 1980.)

Released in United States 1991 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival (1991 restored version) April 26-May 9, 1991.)

Released in United States April 1991 (Shown at AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival (1991 restored version) April 11-25, 1991.)

Released in United States January 1992 (Shown at Sundance Film Festival (Stanley Kubrick: American Master Abroad) in Park City, Utah January 16-26, 1992.)

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (American Museum of the Moving Image) as part of program "Stanley Kubrick" August 10 - September 1, 1996.)

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at WideScreen Film Festival in Los Angeles October 31 - November 16, 1997.)