Spartacus (1960)

Inspired movie making

This is one of the greatest epic movies ever made. It would never have been made at all if Kirk Douglas had been given the role of Judah Ben Hur in William Wilder epic masterpiece Ben-Hur. Burt Lancaster had also been considered for the role but turned it down (for religious reasons). Kirk was offered the role of Messala opposite Charlton Heston but he turned it down refusing to play second bill to a young upstart such as Heston.

Douglas made Spartacus purely to get back at MGM and William Wilder. This need for revenge drove Douglas to make what is a truly great film.

The Direction given from Anthony Mann and Stanley Kubrick is excellent. The cast is also flawless. Kirk was clever enough to cast all the Americans in the film as Slaves and Gladiators (including himself). The English actors in were all cast as Romans, Olivier, Laughton and Ustinov. This made perfect sense as the Romans and Slaves now sounded different. This makes the film all the more believable.

This film is one of my all time favorites, but I often wonder if kirk had got his way and had starred in Ben-Hur, would this film have ever been made ???

A final word on the lovely Jean Simmons. She is one of the most beautiful women that has ever graced the silver screen