Trivia / Spartacus

  • AFIS 100 Years Series:
  • Creator Backlash: Stanley Kubrick 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, there's a very good chance they won't be."
  • Deleted Scenes: 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.
  • Reality Subtext: 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," making this explicit.
    • Not just the screenwriter. The writer of the original novel 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 Karl Marx himself considered Spartacus his all-time favorite hero. Secretly using an expensive Epic Movie to make what is essentially a leftist epic was pretty subversive for that era.
    • 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.
    • Enforced Method Acting: Charles Laughton and Sir Laurence Olivier hated one another, which added to their onscreen rivalry as Gracchus and Crassus.
  • Troubled Production: Fighting between Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick, tensions among the cast, a script being repeatedly revised, the production running extremely over-budget (especially for the final battle, a last-second decision that cost over a million dollars), run-ins with studio censors and Moral Guardians alike... this one touches pretty much everything. It was a huge box-office hit though.
  • Wag the Director: Kirk Douglas, as producer of the film, fired the original director, Anthony Mann (who later made El Cid and The Fall of the Roman Empire) and brought in relative newcomer Stanley Kubrick. 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.