QUO VADIS (1951)

MGM turned Henry Sinkiewicz’s Nobel Prize-winning novel into one of the most extravagant production in film history. The epic tale is set in the decadence and decay of Nero’s Rome, where Christianity is just beginning to foment. Robert Taylor (BILLY THE KID, JOHNNY EAGER) stars as Marcus Vinicius, a Roman military commander who falls in love with Lygia, played by Deborah Kerr (KING SOLOMON’S MINES, THE KING AND I). Lygia has recently converted to Christianity, and Marcus follows suit. The conversion establishes a rift between Marcus and the emperor Nero (Sir Peter Ustinov), who blames the growing religion for the turmoil within his empire, going so far as to throw Christian converts to the lions. But the real appeal of QUO VADIS is the grand Technicolor spectacle of ancient Rome burning, of pagan orgies, of marching armies, and of man-eating lions. Combined with the stunning score by Miklos Rozsa, QUO VADIS is worth watching simply for the orgy of sound and vision it offers.

Cinema poster from the 1951 classic

The movie had been filmed three times perviously. The 1912 version was one of the first feature-length films ever made, and few theaters owned projectors capable of playing the eight-reel film.

MGM originally planned the film to stoar Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor, with John Huston at the helm. Audrey Hepburn was tested for the lead, but the studio wanted a big-name star and went with Deborah Kerr. Hepburn was unkown by the public at the time.

Quo Vadis has some very interesting trivia,