** AFIS100Years100Thrills: #62
*** #22 Hero, Spartacus
** AFIS100Years100Cheers: #44
** AFIS100Years100Movies10THAnniversaryEdition: #81
*** #5, Epic
* AllStarCast: Creator/KirkDouglas, Creator/LaurenceOlivier,Jean Simmons, Creator/CharlesLaughton, Peter Ustinov and Creator/TonyCurtis.
** The opening narration references Christianity and that it attributed to Rome's fall. That was forced upon by UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode to make the movie look conservative. They weren't fooling anybody. (Note that the argument that Christianity caused the fall of Rome has traditionally been used as an argument ''against'' Christianity. Indeed, Christian leaders of TheLowMiddleAges spent some time convincing people that the collapse of the Western Roman Empire had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Rome had abandoned its traditional pagan gods.)
** Older prints of the film removed all closeups of a dying, crucified Spartacus at the film's end. The Criterion DVD includes this alternate ending as a special feature, with speculation over whether this was done for censorship or artistic reasons.
* CommonKnowledge: George Kennedy is often claimed to be one of the gladiators during the "I am Spartacus!" scene, but it's actually stuntman Bob Morgan.
* CreatorBacklash: Creator/StanleyKubrick practically disowned the movie due to his lack of creative control, though he considered it a valuable learning experience about the Hollywood studio system:
--> "My experience proved that if it is not explicitly stipulated in the contract that your decisions will be respected, [[ExecutiveMeddling there's a very good chance they won't be]]."
** Over half-an-hour of footage was removed from the original cut, notably the "snails and oysters" exchange between Crassus and Antoninus, and some of the more graphic battle scenes. Some of this was restored in the early '90s. It's also alleged that the Battle of Metapontnum was filmed but cut from the final version, and that Julius Caesar's subplot (defecting from Gracchus to Crassus) was far more prominent in Kubrick's original cut.
** European prints of the film contained a scene in which a nude Jean Simmons bathes in a pond. Stills and lobby cards exist, but the scene has not appeared in any re-issue.
*** There is a similar sequence in existing copies the film, when Varinia announces to Spartacus that she is pregnant. Tree branches are used as SceneryCensor for the most part, so all you see in that scene is Simmons' rear.
* HostilityOnTheSet: In addition to Creator/KirkDouglas and Creator/StanelyKubrick butting heads onset, Creator/LaurenceOlivier and Creator/CharlesLaughton, much like their characters, were longtime rivals and barely on speaking terms.
* MissingEpisode: The film premiered at 202 minutes. However, the prints from the premiere were lost in the 1970s when Universal threw out all the film's tracks, outtakes, additional prints etc. The Criterion Collection has 4 minutes of lost scenes involving the Gracchus subplot:
** After the first senatorial meeting scene, Gracchus and Caesar walk around the market discussing the dirty tactic of fishing votes. (Shown in production-still form)
** Gracchus commits suicide by slitting his wrist in the bathtub. This occurred immediately after he closes the curtain near the end of the film. Only the audio track was found in the studio vault.
* RealitySubtext: The credited screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted from Hollywood for refusing to name names during the Red Scare. There's even a line where Crassus proclaims "Lists of the disloyal are being compiled," [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything making this explicit]].
** Not just the screenwriter. The writer of the original novel, HowardFast, was also on the blacklist. More than that, making a film about Spartacus was itself highly radical since he had long been a hero for leftists and Creator/KarlMarx himself considered Spartacus his all-time favorite hero. Secretly using an expensive EpicMovie to make what is essentially a leftist epic was pretty subversive for that era.
*** "Secretly" might be overselling it a bit. Considering the right-wing protests against the film upon its original release, its leftist orientation was about the worst kept secret in screen history. Hedda Hopper commented, "The story was sold to Universal from a book written by a commie and the screen script was written by a commie, so don't go to see it." UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy famously crossed an American Legion picket line to see the film.
** Woody Strode's black Gladiator sparing the life of Spartacus and then hurling his spear at Crassus was seen by later critics as a reflection of the Civil Rights Movement which was ongoing at the time.
** EnforcedMethodActing: Creator/CharlesLaughton and Sir Creator/LaurenceOlivier were longtime rivals who really hated each other, which added to their onscreen rivalry as Gracchus and Crassus.
* TroubledProduction: Things started smoothly enough. Creator/KirkDouglas purchased the rights to Howard Fast's novel for just $100, and cast most of the key roles without difficulty. But problems began when shooting started.
** The original director, Anthony Mann, shot some early scenes with Peter Ustinov but dropped out after a few days. Douglas offered Creator/DavidLean, Creator/JosephLMankiewicz and others the chance to direct; he even considered letting Olivier take over direction. All declined. Then Douglas remembered Creator/StanleyKubrick, whom he'd worked with on ''Film/PathsOfGlory'', and offered him the job. Ominously, Kubrick had just dropped out of ''Film/OneEyedJacks'', another film with a temperamental producer-star (Creator/MarlonBrando).
** Though Douglas and Kubrick had collaborated amicably on Paths, Spartacus proved another story. Kubrick's notoriously prickly, perfectionist personality led to endless rows with Douglas, arguing over script content, editing, the staging of scenes and even Kubrick's wardrobe. When Douglas asked Kubrick his opinion of the "I Am Spartacus" scene, Kubrick (in front of cast and crew) called it "a stupid idea." Douglas promptly chewed the director out. When Kubrick removed close-ups of Spartacus's crucifixion during the finale, Douglas (by his own account) grew so angry he attacked Kubrick with a folding chair. Kubrick generally disagreed with the optimistic heroic portrayal of a slave uprising and wanted to include more divisions and complications in the Revolt which he felt would make it ambiguous, whereas Douglas and Trumbo felt that doing so, would make SlaveLiberation look like a bad thing at least in the context of the film they were making.
** Douglas and Kubrick weren't the only ones feuding on set. Creator/LaurenceOlivier and Creator/CharlesLaughton, longtime rivals, were barely on speaking terms; Olivier actually refused to film a key scene between them unless Laughton left the set. Laughton's prima donna behavior aggravated everyone, storming off the set and threatening to sue Douglas for trimming his part. Olivier was distracted by his dissolving marriage with Creator/VivienLeigh and exasperated Douglas by insisting that he play Spartacus. And both Laughton and Peter Ustinov disliked Dalton Trumbo's script, rewriting scenes on set or else ad-libbing dialogue. Only Jean Simmons avoided the squabbling, partly because she missed six weeks of shooting after an emergency surgery. In addition, Douglas caught the flu and Creator/TonyCurtis injured his Achilles tendon playing tennis.
** After filming ran way too long and extremely over budget, Kubrick delivered a disastrous rough cut - a formless mess with little coherent story. Hoping to salvage the picture, Kubrick insisted on filming Spartacus's final battle with Crassus (at this point, the movie only showed its aftermath). Universal reluctantly relocated to Spain (having previously shot in Hollywood and Death Valley) for an expensive battle employing thousands of Spanish soldiers as extras. Along with other last-minute reshoots, this swelled the budget to a then-staggering $11,000,000.
** During post-production, Douglas received detailed memos from Universal Studios and Production Code offices demanding heavy cuts. Having received the instruction "Any implication that Crassus is a sex pervert is unacceptable," the producers excised the notorious "snails and oysters" scene between Olivier and Curtis. More seriously, Universal trimmed several action scenes, along with political content that was deemed subversive. Apparently the studio feared that if Spartacus had a chance of winning, viewers would perceive the film as Communist! Nearly 30 minutes were cut, most of which was restored to the 1991 re-release.
** Douglas hired blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to write the script, under his alias Sam Jackson. At some point during production, journalist Hedda Hopper discovered the identity of "Jackson" and demanded Douglas fire the screenwriter. In this case, Douglas stood his ground; he not only retained Trumbo but credited him in the finished film, hence breaking the Hollywood blacklist. Douglas's decision was vindicated as Spartacus became a smash hit.
** While having his name listed as the Director of a famous hit movie certainly helped his career, Kubrick professed dislike for the film itself. And after suffering through the multiple clashes with both actors and studio on this film, Kubrick insisted on full creative control, in writing, for his subsequent films.
* WagTheDirector: Creator/KirkDouglas, as producer of the film, fired the original director, Creator/AnthonyMann (who later made ''Film/ElCid'' and ''The Fall Of The Roman Empire'') and brought in relative newcomer Creator/StanleyKubrick. Guess who wore the pants on set? Indeed, after making ''Spartacus'', Kubrick shifted to England and made all his remaining films there under highly controlled conditions feeling that he would never truly be free working within the Hollywood system.
** In addition to Douglas, Creator/LaurenceOlivier, Creator/CharlesLaughton and Peter Ustinov would often rewrite their own lines.
** The slaves' final battle was originally to be intercut with Varinia giving birth to her child, to give a contrast of destruction and creation. This idea was scrapped for running time purposes.
** Dalton Trumbo originally wanted Universal to get Creator/OrsonWelles to play the pirate, Tigranes Levantus.
** Creator/StanleyKubrick originally wanted Creator/AudreyHepburn to play Varinia. Creator/KirkDouglas had Creator/JeanneMoreau in mind, but she was in Paris and wouldn't leave to do the film. Creator/IngridBergman was also considered.
* WrittenByCastMember: Creator/CharlesLaughton hated the Dalton Trumbo-written dialogue he was initially given, so Peter Ustinov rewrote all of the scenes featuring Batiatus and Gracchus together, which placated Laughton enough to complete his portion of the film.