Spartacus

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Movie Info & Cast

Synopsis

Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) is a rebellious slave purchased by Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), owner of a school for gladiators. For the entertainment of corrupt Roman senator Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier), Batiatus' gladiators are to stage a fight to the death. On the night before the event, the enslaved trainees are rewarded with female companionship. Spartacus' companion for the evening is Varinia (Jean Simmons), a slave from Brittania. When Spartacus later learns that Varinia has been sold to Crassus, he leads 78 fellow gladiators in revolt. Word of the rebellion spreads like wildfire, and soon Spartacus' army numbers in the hundreds. Escaping to join his cause is Varinia, who has fallen in love with Spartacus, and another of Crassus' house slaves, the sensitive Antoninus (Tony Curtis). The revolt becomes the principal cog in the wheel of a political struggle between Crassus and a more temperate senator named Gracchus (Charles Laughton). Anthony Mann was the original director of Spartacus, eventually replaced by Stanley Kubrick, who'd previously guided Douglas through Paths of Glory. The film received 4 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Ustinov. A crucial scene between Olivier and Curtis, removed from the 1967 reissue because of its subtle homosexual implications, was restored in 1991, with a newly recorded soundtrack featuring Curtis as his younger self and Anthony Hopkins standing in for the deceased Olivier.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Cast

  • Kirk Douglas
  • Laurence Olivier
  • Jean Simmons
  • Charles Laughton
  • Peter Ustinov
  • John Gavin
  • Nina Foch
  • John Ireland
  • Herbert Lom
  • John Dall

Did You Know?

Trivia

  • According to producer James B. Harris, director Stanley Kubrick would repeatedly see Charles Laughton, Sir Peter Ustinov, and Sir Laurence Olivier seemingly whispering to each other. Afraid they were gossiping about him, Kubrick leaned in to hear what they were saying, and each was just reading the script aloud again and again to themselves.
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Goofs

  • A truck drives along the hills behind a battle scene.
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Quotes

    • Spartacus: 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.
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Metacritic

100

Spartacus isn't the greatest epic ever made, but it's head and shoulders above most of the sword-and-sandal wheezers that came out in the '50s and '60s. And, given the prohibitive costs of shooting an epic today, it's the kind of movie we're not likely to see anymore -- except in well-deserved revivals like this one. [13 May 1991, p.E1]

Metacritic review by Edward Guthmann
Edward Guthmann
San Francisco Chronicle
100

Spartacus stands up handsomely. At times it's even stirring, as in Woody Strode's performance as the African gladiator who, in sparing Spartacus' life, opens his eyes. Spartacus is one of Hollywood's great comic strips. [3 May 1991, p.45]

Metacritic review by Jay Carr
Jay Carr
Boston Globe
75

The most entertaining performance in the movie, consistently funny, is by Ustinov, who upstages everybody when he is onscreen (he won an Oscar).

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times