Stanley Kubrick was only 31 years old when Kirk Douglas (star of Kubrick's classic Paths of Glory) recruited the young director to pilot this epic saga, in which the rebellious slave Spartacus (played by Douglas) leads a freedom revolt against the decadent Roman Empire. Kubrick would later disown the film because it was not a personal project--he was merely a director-for-hire--but Spartacus remains one of the best of Hollywood's grand historical epics. With an intelligent screenplay by then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (from a novel by Howard Fast), its message of moral integrity and courageous conviction is still quite powerful, and the all-star cast (including Charles Laughton in full toga) is full of entertaining surprises. Fully restored in 1991 to include scenes deleted from the original 1960 release, the full-length Spartacus is a grand-scale cinematic marvel, offering some of the most awesome battles ever filmed and a central performance by Douglas that's as sensitively emotional as it is intensely heroic. Jean Simmons plays the slave woman who becomes Spartacus's wife, and Peter Ustinov steals the show with his frequently hilarious, Oscar-winning performance as a slave trader who shamelessly curries favor with his Roman superiors. The restored version also includes a formerly deleted bathhouse scene in which Laurence Olivier plays a bisexual Roman senator (with restored dialogue dubbed by Anthony Hopkins) who gets hot and bothered over a slave servant played by Tony Curtis. These and other restored scenes expand the film to just over three hours in length. Despite some forgivable lulls, this is a rousing and substantial drama that grabs and holds your attention. Breaking tradition with sophisticated themes and a downbeat (yet eminently noble) conclusion, Spartacus is a thinking person's epic, rising above mere spectacle with a story as impressive as its widescreen action and Oscar-winning sets. --Jeff Shannon

Genre: Action, Drama
Director(s): Robert Dornhelm
Production: Universal Pictures
  Won 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
NR (Not Rated)

[watching two Roman nobles being forced by a slave on horseback to fight to the death] Ah-ha ha! Come on, fat boy! Yeah!

[as Spartacus enters the arena] Spartacus! Hey, Spartacus!

Noble Romans, fight each other like animals. [gestures to the slaves on the balcony] Your new masters, betting to see who'll die first. [the slaves laugh] Drop your weapons. [the slaves start booing]

No! No! No! No!

I want to see their blood, right here where Draba died! [jumps down and draws his sword] When I fight matched pairs, they fight to the death!

I made myself a promise, Crixus. I swore that if I ever get out of this place, I'd die before I saw two men fight to the death again. Draba made that promise too. He kept it, so will I. [turns to the nobles] Go on. Get up! [Spartacus turns to the slaves as the nobles scurry out of the arena] What are we, Crixus? What are we becoming, Romans? What's happening to us? Have we learned nothing? We hunt wine when we should be looking for bread.

When you got wine, you don't need bread!

You can't just be a gang of drunken raiders.

What else can we be?

Gladiators, an army of gladiators. There's never been an army like that. One gladiator is worth any two Roman soldiers that ever lived.

We beat the Romans guards here, but a Roman army is different. They fight different than we do, too.

We can beat anything they send against us if we really want to.

It takes a big army.

We'll have a big army. Once we're on the march, we'll free every slave in every town and village. Can anybody get a bigger army than that?

That's right. Once we cross the Alps, we're safe.

Nobody can cross the Alps. Every pass is defended by its own legion.

Share your thoughts on Spartacus's quotes with the community:

  • Laurie LaComb
    Laurie LaComb
    Where does the wind come from?
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    Roger Armstrong
    Where did Antonias poem come from?
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